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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 27, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
MIA at HOU SF at KC NE at CIN   updated

Prediction: NE 14, CIN 24

The Patriots come off their first loss of the season with an apparent penchant for allowing 17 points in each game. They just need to score 18 and it's all good again. The Bengals come off a big win in Pittsburgh that stamps this another playoff year with little in the way. The Patriots may still be dangerous but the Bengals are just plain deadly.

New England Patriots (2-1)
1 19-17 BUF 10 --- NYJ
2 24-17 @NYJ 11 --- @GB
3 7-17 DEN 12 --- CHI
4 --- @CIN 13 --- DET
5 --- MIA 14 --- @MIA
6 Open Bye 15 --- HOU
7 --- @BUF 16 --- @JAX
8 --- @MIN 17 --- @TEN
9 --- IND - - MON
NEP at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 240,1
RB Corey Dillon 50 10 0
RB Lawrence Maroney 60,1 10 0
TE Ben Watson 0 30,1 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 20 0
WR Doug Gabriel 0 50 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 40 0
WR Troy Brown 0 40 0
PK Stephen Gostkowski 0 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: After logging two close wins to open the season, the Patriots discovered what happens when the running game turns from dominating to useless - they lose. While the duo of Laurence Maroney and Corey Dillon racked up over 150 yards against the Bills and Jets, that turned to just 34 yards last Sunday. Brady has been the magic man for the last several years but with the defections of all his old receivers, even he could not find a rabbit to pull out of the hat last week.

Quarterback: Tom Brady was finally pressed into throwing to regain the score and ended with a career high 55 passes with 31 completions for 320 yards but only one touchdown. It was roughly twice the production of either of the first games with the same scoring. Doug Gabriel is starting to make his way into the offense now but an ex-slot receiver from Oakland is hardly a replacement for the Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch.

Running Backs: Corey Dillon was pulled from the game last week with what is now described as a neck stringer though it started out as an arm injury and could be listed as a knee sprain on the injury report. It is the Patriots and nothing is what it seems. There is no doubt that Dillon will be listed as questionable this week and his playing status will become apparent sometime after kickoff. I will project for Dillon to play but please be aware that there is never any guarantee with the Patriots.

Laurence Maroney was bottled up by the Broncos with only 18 yards on 12 carries but he had 151 yards over the first two games with one touchdown.

Wide Receivers: The rookie Chad Jackson had a score in week two but had a hamstring issue and was made a gametime inactive last week. In his place Doug Gabriel played and turned in six catches for 65 yards and one touchdown to lead all wideouts. Both Troy Brown and Reche Caldwell are stuck around 40 yards per game like most Patriot wideouts have - other than Givens, Branch and Patten who were allowed to leave. I will leave Jackson out of the projections until he is listed at least as probable to play.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson remains a fixture in the passing game and comes off a six catch, 66 yard effort last week. Watson still has yet to record a touchdown this year.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals rush defense gave up 133 yards to Parker last week but that required 31 carries to reach. With Dillon and Maroney splitting time, both should continue their pattern of sub-100 yard games though one should score depending on which one is on the field during that series.

The Bengals pass defense has only allowed one score this year and collected seven turnovers in three games. With no opponent exceeding 244 yards yet, expect Brady to remain with good yardage but unless the game turns with a couple of quick scores by the Bengals, Brady won't want to get involved in a shootout with Carson Palmer. The lone passing score went to Gonzalez, so favor Watson a bit to catch one touchdown though with the Patriots, it could go anywhere.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)
1 23-10 @KC 10 --- SD
2 34-17 CLE 11 --- @NO
3 28-20 @PIT 12 --- @CLE
4 --- NE 13 --- BAL
5 Open Bye 14 --- OAK
6 --- @TB 15 --- @IND
7 --- CAR 16 --- @DEN
8 --- ATL 17 --- PIT
9 --- @BAL - MON THU
CIN vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 270,3
RB Rudi Johnson 80 20 0
TE Reggie Kelly 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 90,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 80,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 50,1 0
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bengals remain undefeated and the win in Pittsburgh removes probably their toughest venue of the season other than week 15 in Indianapolis. While Palmer started slowly this year, he saved his biggest game for the biggest game and stepped up when the running game was not enough to win the game. There is a chance that the Bengals could suffer a letdown after the big win, but back at home against the Pats? Reason enough to remain focused.

Quarterback: After Carson Palmer opened the season with no scores and only 127 yards, some wondered if he was still rusty. Then had he 352 yards and two scores against the Browns and all was well. Now he comes off the Steeler game with 193 yards and four touchdowns and he's well on his way again to lead the league in passing scores.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson opened the year with two big rushing efforts but only managed to gain 47 yards on 19 carries in Pittsburgh last week. With the Steelers set on turning the ball over and Palmer making them pay, Johnson did not need to do much to win the game. Running in Pittsburgh is rarely a treat and Johnson had his first game without a score but this offense just shifts to something else when the run doesn't work. So far - that doesn't happen often.

Wide Receivers: Poor Chad Johnson has not had a big start to his season with only 137 yards and one score over the first three games. But his presence slants the secondary so much that everyone else is getting rich. Last week T.J. Houshmandzadeh returned to the field and turned in nine catches for 94 yards and two scores. Chris Henry had five catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns as well. The Bengals are 3-0 but that is not much consolation to Chad Johnson owners out there. Probably not even to Chad though he cannot admit it.

Tight Ends: On the plus side, Johnson had one more catch last week than any Bengals tight end.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots defense seemed tough against the run against the Bills and Jets, but Tatum Bell rang up 123 yards last week. Look for a solid game here by Johnson but probably just under 100 rushing yards unless he breaks a long one.

Palmer goes against a secondary that gave up two scores to both Pennington and Plummer and both had over 250 passing yards using exclusively wideouts. This should be a game for Chad Johnson to get back on track. Expect three scores here by Palmer with nice yardage.