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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 4, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
MIA at NE WAS at NYG DAL at PHI   updated

Prediction: TB 6, NO 23

This team pits two inter-divisional foes that need to keep answering the same questions - "Are the Saints really that good?" and "Are the Bucs really that bad?" And for the fifth time, "yes" and "yes".

The Buccaneers swept the Saints last season, winning 10-3 as the "visitor" and then 27-13 when they hosted the Saints.

Update: Devery Henderson is added back into the projections after practicing this week. He is listed as questionable with a shoulder sprain but is expected to play.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3)
1 0-27 BAL 10 --- @CAR
2 3-14 @ATL 11 --- WAS
3 24-26 CAR 12 --- @DAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- @PIT
5 --- @NO 14 --- ATL
6 --- CIN 15 --- @CHI
7 --- PHI 16 --- @CLE
8 --- @NYG 17 --- SEA
9 --- NO - MON THU
TBB at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Bruce Gradkowski 0 0 150
RB Cadillac Williams 50 20 0
RB Michael Pittman 0 20 0
TE Alex Smith 0 30 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 30 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 40 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 10 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: As if the season wasn't swirling close to the drain already, the Buccaneers lose a close one to the Panthers and also lose their starting quarterback to a ruptured spleen. Now the rookie Gradkowski takes the start with the knowledge that he really cannot do much worse than Simms did. Then again, that only led to a 0-3 record so far.

Quarterback: Chris Simms is out this week if not for the season and the rookie Bruce Gradkowski gets the start after an impressive training camp where he beat out the veteran Tim Rattay for the spot. While Leinart is hard enough to project this week in his first start as well, at least he has two Pro Bowl quality wideouts and was the second quarterback drafted. Gradkowski, rather conversely, was snapped up by the Buccaneers a mere 191 picks later with the 25th pick in the sixth round. Right between Reggie McNeal and D.J. Shockley. The Bucs season now hangs on the 12th quarterback drafted last April.

Chris Simms never threw for more than 143 yards against the Saints last year but had three scores in total against them.

Running Backs: Carnell Williams, AKA the 2005 Offensive Rookie of the Year, has a total of 42 runs for 107 carries this season for a whooping 2.5 yards per carry. He did finally score in the last game but the plans to include him in the passing scheme have yet to materialize. With a rookie quarterback, defenses will only focus even more on Carnell.

Carnell Williams ran for 96 and 81 yards against the Saints last year but never scored.

Wide Receivers: Other than Joey Galloway's 161 yard effort in Atlanta in week two, the wideout's here have done little and should do even less with a rookie quarterback at the helm. Michael Clayton is 6'3" and makes a nice big target but he's done little this year so far. Galloway is a speedster and could break deep but that will be unreliable and hard to forecast. There will be a big need for the wideouts to step up but how well that happens remains to be seen.

Galloway had games of 75 yards and one score and then 38 yards and two scores against the Saints in 2005.

Tight Ends: After turning in almost nothing in the first two games, Alex Smith had four catches for 72 yards in week three. As a second-year tight end, he could end up being a big, close target for Gradkowski but that can only happen once the running game is shelved for the week.

Match Against the Defense: Other than DeShaun Foster breaking one long touchdown in week four, no runner has rushed for a score against this Saints defense and most remain under 50 yards of production. That matches up well with what Williams has been doing this year.

Gradkowski faces a secondary that can give up a score or even two but his first start is better left away from any fantasy roster. Stay away from all Buccaneer players if you can - the risk is high and the reward is minimal so far.

New Orleans Saints (3-1)
1 19-14 @CLE 10 --- @PIT
2 34-27 @GB 11 --- CIN
3 23-3 ATL 12 --- @ATL
4 18-21 @CAR 13 --- SF
5 --- TB 14 --- @DAL
6 --- PHI 15 --- WAS
7 Open Bye 16 --- @NYG
8 --- BAL 17 --- CAR
9 --- @TB - - MON
NOR vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 190,1
RB Reggie Bush 50 60,1 0
RB Deuce McAllister 70,1 10 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Joe Horn 0 40 0
WR Marques Colston 0 50 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 20 0
WR Lance Moore 0 20 0
PK John Carney 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The loss to the Panthers wasn't unexpected but the Saints showed great poise and some quick strike ability. They actually led 10-7 in the fourth quarter before the Panthers reeled off two quick scores and yet the Saints still drew to within two points with 30 seconds left to play. The turn-around by HC Sean Payton has been rather quick and very impressive.

Quarterback: Drew Brees has been either mediocre or terrific with no games in between so far this season. He has two efforts (CLE, ATL) where he ended under 200 yards and two games (GB, CAR) where he threw for 350 yards. Most of that goes to the surprising rookie - not Reggie Bush but Marques Colston.

Running Backs: There is no confusion which runner gets the ball when the goal line is near - Deuce McAllister has three touchdowns on the year and he shares a near even split with Reggie Bush depending on game situation. Bush is still waiting for his first NFL touchdown and while he has lost major ground to Laurence Maroney in rookie honors, Bush has made his presence felt on the Saints primarily as a pass receiver. The tandem attack hasn't posted gaudy numbers yet, but it is effective enough to see the team to a 3-1 record that was close to being 4-0.

Wide Receivers: The veteran Joe Horn has become just an aging possession receiver now that never cores and usually has around 50 or so yards per game. The rookie Marques Colston has been the huge surprise with a touchdown in three of the four games this season and a team season best 132 yards last week thanks to that 86-yard scoring catch. Devery Henderson did not play last week due to a shoulder injury and was replaced by the rookie Lance Moore (1-10) making this unit contain both the oldest and youngest wideouts in the NFL.

I am assuming that Moore again replaces Henderson.

Tight Ends: Little action here though Ernie Conwell had five catches for 37 yards after not having any action for the first three games.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers rush defense has been a step down from previous seasons and while they have only allowed one rushing touchdown, they were shredded for 134 yards by Dunn in their only road game this season. Look for a solid game by McAllister and Bush with the rookie having a shot at his first NFL score if McAllister doesn't take it away. With the Bucs likely to struggle on offense with a rookie quarterback, the Saints rushing game should have plenty of carries to distribute.

Brees goes against a secondary that is still good though it allows one score in every game this year. With the running game likely to succeed this week, it should be another sub-200 yard game here from Brees and the one score could go anywhere. CB Brian Kelly is due to be back and that means Horn gets a tougher match-up than previous flankers have. I like Bush to score here via the pass. He's due and the Bucs are struggling.