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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
GB at DET WAS at HOU STL at ARZ   updated

Prediction: PHI 27, SF 13

The Eagles were cruising to a 2-0 record last week before the Giants staged a thrilling comeback and stole the win in overtime. In a competitive division like the NFC East, the Eagles cannot afford to let a probable win here get away from them. The 49ers are 1-1 and already look vastly improved from 2005 with both rushing and passing much improved. The defense has been adequate so far but gets their biggest test this week.

The Eagles stomped the 49ers 42-3 in week two of last year.

Update: Brian Westbrook was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday with his knee continuing to be an issue with pain and swelling. But the same was true last week and he had one of the heaviest workloads of his career. He is still expected to play according to OC Marty Mornhinweg who says he is not concerned if Westbrook misses practice time. I am downgrading his projections a bit but realize that the could repeat last week or end up inactive if his knee acts up on Sunday. Problem is that this will be among the second set of games on Sunday and any change to his starting role may not be certain until well after the initial kick-offs of the day.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
1 24-10 @HOU 10 --- WAS
2 24-30 NYG 11 --- TEN
3 --- @SF 12 --- @IND
4 --- GB 13 --- CAR
5 --- DAL 14 --- @WAS
6 --- @NO 15 --- @NYG
7 --- @TB 16 --- @DAL
8 --- JAX 17 --- ATL
9 Open Bye - - MON
PHI at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 0 0 280,3
RB Brian Westbrook 50 40 0
RB Correll Buckhalter 30 10 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 50,1 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 80,1 0
WR Reggie Brown 0 50,1 0
WR Greg Lewis 0 20 0
PK David Akers 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: It was all smiles and slapped backs last week when the Eagles held a 17 point lead over the Giants in the fourth quarter but fell flat right when Eli Manning got hot and the team lost in overtime. That wake-up call about putting teams away will affect this match-up that cannot see the Eagles get complacent or sloppy just because they should win.

Quarterback: So far this season, Donovan McNabb is the #1 fantasy quarterback with games of 314 and 350 yards and five touchdowns. McNabb even added 31 rushing yards onto his total last week and now heads into San Francisco with an excellent chance to retain his top billing for the position.

McNabb threw for 342 yards and five scores against the 49ers in week two of 2005 and he didn't even play the full game.

Running Backs: Brian Westbrook missed two days of practice with knee inflammation last week, but he still had 26 touches against the Giants. That's the second most of his career and for a player with a knee issue, perhaps not the wisest of choices. Westbrook racked up 124 total yards and a score last week - almost exactly the same as week one against the Texans. Westbrook had swelling in his knee after the Giants game and could be held out of some practices again this week. Until he is either called out or doubtful for the game, I am projecting him to start again this week.

Westbrook ran for 89 yards against the 49ers last year and added 31 more yards on three catches with one touchdown.

Wide Receivers: Donte Stallworth continues his surprising explosion in Philadelphia and turned in 81 yards and a score last week on top of the 141 yards and a touchdown in week one and currently is the highest scoring wideout in most leagues right now. Not bad for a player most drafted to be a mediocre Saint receiver. Reggie Brown scored last week and while he has two scores on the year as well, he only has a total of three catches for 43 yards.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith led all NFL tight ends last Sunday when he turned in seven catches for 111 yards and he's actually had more passes thrown to him than any other Eagle player. Smith sprained his shoulder last week but is expected to play against the 49ers.

Smith caught nine passes for 119 yards and one score against the 49ers in 2005.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers defense is improved from last year but it's still not at the level of the Eagles who bring in a new challenge that features so many potential receivers that no one player can be loaded up against. Look for a standard game here from Westbrook who may end up with fewer touches due to his knee though he worked through it last Sunday.

McNabb faces a secondary that can be beaten and there's an excellent chance that both Stallworth and Brown extend their scoring streak to three games. Smith would be a likely scorer as well but how well his shoulder holds up remains to be seen.

San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
1 27-34 @ARZ 10 --- @DET
2 20-13 STL 11 --- SEA
3 --- PHI 12 --- @STL
4 --- @KC 13 --- @NO
5 --- OAK 14 --- GB
6 --- SD 15 --- @SEA
7 Open Bye 16 --- ARZ
8 --- @CHI 17 --- @DEN
9 --- MIN - - THU
SFO vs PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith 0 0 240,1
RB Frank Gore 50 50 0
TE Vernon Davis 0 30 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 100,1 0
WR Bryan Gilmore 0 20 0
WR Arnaz Battle 0 40 0
PK Joe Nedney 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The 49ers get their first win of the season by taking down the visiting Rams but facing the Eagles this week will be a far tougher challenge. The passing and rushing games are improved for the 49ers but both will be challenged by an even better Philly defense. After two divisional games, the 49ers schedule gets much tougher from here on out.

Quarterback: Alex Smith could not pass for more than 200 yards last year and so far in 2006, he has been unable to throw for less than 233 yards with one score in each game and still not a single interception or lost fumble. Granted - facing two NFC West rivals has not been the hardest possible way to open the season but Smith has undeniably taken a step up from last year. At this rate, that first round pick in 2005 might just pan out.

Running Backs: Perhaps the most delightful fantasy surprise of all is Frank Gore who currently tops the best fantasy RB in most leagues after the first two weeks and who has already scored three touchdowns and gained 214 rushing yards along with eight catches for 93 yards. Gore is running with authority and getting "into the groove" without the need to share with any other tailback anymore. In the event that he is slowed on the ground, Gore has become the new "Lamont Jordan" in the imported Norv Turner offense and can catch the ball as well.

Wide Receivers: Antonio Bryant has certainly made his presence felt, coming off his first two games for the 49ers with a total of 247 receiving yards and one touchdown. For playing on a team that will likely need to throw in most games, Bryant has already become a reliable target for Smith and should continue to offer a first option on pass plays. Arnaz Battle was quiet in the first game but turned in three catches for 78 yards against the Rams.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis opened his career with a score in week one but was not only held to no catches against the Rams, he only had one pass thrown to him in the game.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers catch a bit of a break since DE Jevon Kearse is out for the season now but that mostly helps Smith when he drops back for a pass. Gore faces a very tough rushing defense that has not allowed more than 51 yards to any runner and that includes Tiki Barber with an overtime game. Look for only moderate rushing numbers at best but for Gore to step up his receiving skills once again this week.

Smith goes against a defense that just allowed a monster game to Eli Manning but that was mostly in the fourth quarter and shouldn't be taken into account. David Carr only managed 208 yards and a score in week one which is a far more realistic comparison. Figure on Smith turning in over 200 yards again this week and he should throw for at least one score but anything more than that will be trash time because the Eagles took a big lead in the game. With CB Lito Shepherd out still, Antonio Bryant gets the same match-up that Toomer turned into a league leading game last week.