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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 18, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
JAX at HOU SD at KC WAS at IND   *updated

Prediction: ARZ 27, OAK 10

After watching Monday night football last week, there is just a sense of sadness. The Cardinals are not that bad, just cursed. After watching the late game with Oakland in Denver, there is just a sense of futility about the Raiders. They really are that bad and probably cursed too. In the battle of bad vibes, can there really be a winner? Reason says that the Cardinals deserve something after last week but the Raiders are the final win-less team and that will eventually break. This is the best game to have it happen. For the first time in ten years, I am going to decide a game by a true coin flip... here goes... wow. Look at that. I've never seen a coin land on its edge before.

Arizona Cardinals (1-5)
1 34-27 SF 10 --- DAL
2 10-21 @SEA 11 --- DET
3 14-16 STL 12 --- @MIN
4 10-32 @ATL 13 --- @STL
5 20-23 KC 14 --- SEA
6 23-24 CHI 15 --- DEN
7 --- @OAK 16 --- @SF
8 --- @GB 17 --- @SD
9 Open Bye - - MON
ARZ at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Leinart 0 0 260,3
RB Edgerrin James 60 20 0
RB J.J. Arrington 10 20 0
TE Leonard Pope 0 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 110,2 0
WR Troy Walters 0 40 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 50,1 0
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: While everyone loves an underdog, it's hard to root for said dog when he keeps stopping short of the finish line to scratch his butt. The Cardinals have given up two straight home losses where they lead the game handily. The most recent was of historic proportions since it required giving up two late game defensive touchdowns and a punt returned for a score. That's like what every football fan has wished would happen for their team but it never, ever has. Until now. The Cardinals have to fight total meltdown now and the offensive coordinator has already been canned. If the Cards drop this one to the 0-5 Raiders, well, it's just better left unsaid.

Quarterback: Amid the horror and gnashing of teeth for the Cardinals is the fact that they made one hell of a great draft pick when they snared Matt Leinart. After two weeks of facing the top secondaries in the league, Leinart has thrown for around 240 yards and two scores against each. Considering this is a rookie who is without Larry Fitzgerald, Leinart has been phenomenal. I hate to be the one to say it, but if they just let him throw for the entire game, the Cards would be 3-2 right now. He's obviously taken in all leagues by now but in a dynasty format, his price still may never be any lower than it is right now.

The present is bleak but the future is bright with Leinart. Good sign #2 - Denny Green made the quarterbacks coach Mike Kruczek the new offensive coordinator.

Running Backs: Bringing in Edgerrin James was a great idea and leaving him to run behind that line was more than merely ill-conceived. The Cardinals lost, in part, to trying to make Edgerrin chew up the clock last week but his 36 carries resulted in only 55 yards - and that was with one 12 yard scamper. In the history of the NFL, no one has ever ran that many times for so few yards, hence the dismissal of OC Keith Rowan. So far the only notable games by James have been at home against the 49ers and Rams when he had his only two scores on the year.

Wide Receivers: With Larry Fitzgerald still on the mend, Anquan Boldin faced the ferocious Bears defense relatively by himself and he walked away with his best game of the year - 12 catches for 136 yards and one score. Bryant Johnson even had a touchdown. The Leinart effect has been rather profound so far even if it does not show up in the standings.

Tight Ends: In two games with Leinart, there has been only one catch for a tight end - not a good sign.

Match Against the Defense: How the Cardinals will respond to Monday's debacle could be either in a huge "I am really pissed now" effort or the wind could just leave their sails. I think third time is the charm because they are in Oakland where everyone else has won and Leinart is only three games into his rookie year and has looked nearly flawless. The change in coordinators is probably not a plus for James unless he gets more passes (and he should) but the Raiders defense is tough against the run generally and the Cardinals are not about to just run out the clock with the run this week. If there was ever a game where a team would want to roll up the score, this is it.

Leinart goes against a secondary that has statistically looked pretty good but only because they lost every game and the opponents never had to throw much. Both Frye and Smith had three scores against the Raiders and it appears the training wheels are going to be kicked from Leinart's bike now. Look for another nice game from Leinart in a place tailor made for big numbers.

Oakland Raiders (0-5)
1 0-27 SD 10 --- DEN
2 6-28 @BAL 11 --- @KC
3 Open Bye 12 --- @SD
4 21-24 CLE 13 --- HOU
5 20-34 @SF 14 --- @CIN
6 3-13 @DEN 15 --- STL
7 --- ARZ 16 --- KC
8 --- PIT 17 --- @NYJ
9 --- @SEA - MON SAT
OAK vs ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Andrew Walter 0 0 200,1
RB Lamont Jordan 60 0 0
TE Courtney Anderson 0 20 0
WR Randy Moss 0 80,1 0
WR Alvis Whitted 0 40 0
WR Ronald Curry 0 40 0
PK S. Janikowski 1 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Raiders now become the final team without a win this year and the visiting Cardinals this week probably offer the best chance for a while with games against PIT, SEA and DEN looming afterwards. The offense is slowly working better and the defense is generally improving but so far it has not come together well enough to get that win. The team continues to struggle against an implosion and without a win here, the outlook will be very bleak for the rest of the year since the next best chance at a win won't come until week 13 when the Texans come to town. At 0-11 by that point, hard to imagine the Raiders will be working well together when they haven't managed that in five games.

Quarterback: Andrew Walter looked better than expected against the Broncos when he had 189 yards and only one interception, but he's still not getting the help from the blocking that he needs nor have the receivers stopped dropping passes. On occasion his passes are so off target it's hard to determine who is to blame - him or a receiver running the wrong route. Aaron Brooks may be back this week but there's been no early indication he is over his shoulder problem. I will assume that Walter will start again unless Brooks is deemed ready to play.

Running Backs: Lamont Jordan only gained 60 yards on 23 carries last week in Denver but he had several decent runs that were sandwiched by plays where the defense reached him nearly as fast as the handoff. The plan to involve him more in the passing game still hasn't materialized much with only two catches for 16 yards last week. Justin Fargas seemed to give the offense some spark in week five when he ran for 63 yards on eight carries but as always, he was injured last Sunday with a subluxation in his shoulder during the first half. It is undeniable that Fargas has speed and that he can never remain healthy for more than a couple of games.

Jordan has only scored once this year during the home game against the Browns in week four.

Wide Receivers: The Raiders are trying to get Randy Moss more involved each week and he comes off a season high of 12 passes and five catches for 86 yards last week. That's twice as many passes as any other receiver and makes a lot of sense considering the Raiders trail in every game. Ronald Curry had a big 94 yard game against the 49ers and although that sent people scurrying to the waiver wire last week, Curry only had one pass and no catches on Sunday. Alvis Whitted remains the starter across from Moss though it has never meant more than 45 yards in any game.

The Raiders suspended Jerry Porter for four games conduct detrimental to the team (read "being a jerk") but he's never been active in any game this year anyway. The move likely negates the chance that Porter could be traded by the deadline this week and his actions are hardly improving his stock.

Tight Ends: Courtney Anderson had three catches for 56 yards last week but it's hardly the start of anything. Anderson rarely gets more than one catch per game and offers no reliability in fantasy terms.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals rush defense has been fairly poor this year with five scores allowed but only one runner has topped 100 yards and that was Norwood thanks to one long run. Jordan has been gaining better yardage as of late and should turn in some moderate numbers here but he's only scored once this year.

Walter goes against a secondary that has allowed about one score per game but that has faced some of the better quarterbacks when it happened. That is not the same as Walter who only has two scores on the year. Back at home the Raiders will likely score one touchdown and that should be Randy Moss because no other wideout really matters for the Raiders.