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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: NE 24, BUF 13

The first "replay" game of the year! These teams opened their 2006 season meeting in New England where the Patriots won 19-17 in a game that was much closer than anyone expected. The Bills come off the ignominy of being the team that lost to the Lions but back at home they're 1-1. Unfortunately, the Pats are already 2-0 on the road and looking better each week.

New England Patriots (4-1)
1 19-17 BUF 10 --- NYJ
2 24-17 @NYJ 11 --- @GB
3 7-17 DEN 12 --- CHI
4 38-13 @CIN 13 --- DET
5 20-10 MIA 14 --- @MIA
6 Open Bye 15 --- HOU
7 --- @BUF 16 --- @JAX
8 --- @MIN 17 --- @TEN
9 --- IND - - MON
NEP at BUF Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 200,2
RB Corey Dillon 70,1 0 0
RB Lawrence Maroney 80 20 0
TE Ben Watson 0 40,1 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 20 0
WR Doug Gabriel 0 50,1 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 30 0
WR Chad Jackson 0 20 0
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Patriots are playing much better now than they did in that initial match-up thanks to an improved set of receivers and a defense that has improved as the season progresses. With just a bye waiting on the other side, this game can stamp the start of the season as another success.

Quarterback: The improved rushing game this year has meant that Tom Brady isn't posting obscene yardage games this year but he's still managed to throw scores in every game this year including two each in the last couple of games. Brady threw for only 163 yards and two scores against the Bills in week one.

Running Backs: Corey Dillon gained 73 rushing yards in the first meeting and hasn't done much more in the successive weeks. He has two scores on the season and both came in road games. Laurence Maroney ran for 86 yards in the earlier game with the Bills and like Dillon, has scored only in road games this year. Much of that came from the quality of opponents but he's been consistently a bigger factor in away games than at home. Maroney leads the team with three rushing touchdowns and has the lone 100 yard rushing effort of the year in week four in Cincinnati.

Wide Receivers: The wideouts have always been almost impossible to decipher from week to week for the Patriots and 2006 is no different. Doug Gabriel has been the best bet so far with two games of 57 and 65 yards with a score in each but even he comes off a one catch game in the previous game. Troy Brown scored once in the first meeting with Buffalo but no wideout had more than 33 yards.

Tight Ends: While Ben Watson was supposed to be a bigger factor this year, that hasn't really happened yet. He has yet to score a touchdown and usually turns in around 40 yards each week. Watson had three catches for 50 yards in the previous meeting with the Bills.

Match Against the Defense: The main aspect of the Bills defense that has changed since week one is that they are likely even worse against the run. I like both Maroney and Dillon to turn in some decent numbers here with Dillon taking the touchdown. The Pats are going to want to run and should be able to have nice success as they did previously. That leads to a lower overall game score.

Brady already had a pretty low effort against the Bills earlier this year but he should turn in marginally better numbers this time around from being more familiar with the wideouts that he has to use. Look for two scores again with widely dispersed yardage as always.

Buffalo Bills (2-4)
1 17-19 @NE 10 --- @IND
2 16-6 @MIA 11 --- @HOU
3 20-28 NYJ 12 --- JAX
4 17-12 MIN 13 --- SD
5 7-40 @CHI 14 --- @NYJ
6 17-20 @DET 15 --- MIA
7 --- NE 16 --- TEN
8 Open Bye 17 --- @BAL
9 --- GB - - -
BUF vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB J.P. Losman 0 0 170,1
RB Willis McGahee 80 10 0
TE Robert Royal 0 10 0
WR Peerless Price 0 40 0
WR Lee Evans 0 60,1 0
WR Josh Reed 0 40 0
PK Rian Lindell 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bills were tripped up last week in Detroit when they gave a previously win-less team their first victory and they remain an enigma of sorts, playing well against the Fins and Vikes but struggling in all other games. Losman is now just a gunslinger looking for Evans mostly while Willis McGahee has become a barely average back at best. The offense is going through growing pains but is not showing many signs of improving yet.

Quarterback: While J.P. Losman has thrown scores in every game since that opener against the Patriots, he's only once had more than one touchdown which came last week against the Lions who always give up at least a couple of scores. Losman has one big game to his credit back in Miami in week two but otherwise he's struggled to exceed 200 passing yards in games thanks mainly to only relying on Lee Evans and rarely involving the tight ends or running backs in the passing scheme.

Losman only had 164 yards and no scores in the first game against the Pats back in week one.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee gained 70 yards on 20 carries in week one against the Patriots but he hasn't gotten much better since. He had one nice game against the Jets but otherwise has been around that 70 yard mark in most games with rarely more than one inconsequential catch per game. He has only one touchdown on the season but has been better in the two home games this year where he had 150 yards against the Jets and then 78 yards and the lone touchdown against the visiting Vikings. He gets a slight benefit from being at home this week but other than the Jets game he just has been mediocre this year.

Wide Receivers: Lee Evans only had 25 yards in the first meeting and did not score but he's been the only wideout here with any consistency or real production this season. Evans had turned in at least 80 yards in each of the last four games and scored once but the others have been rarely good for more than 40 yards in any game. Roscoe Parrish had one long score in week three when he gained 104 yards on four catches but outside of that one game, this unit is devoid of fantasy value outside of Evans.

Parrish hurt his hamstring last week and did not play in the second half. I am considering him out pending an update.

Tight Ends: One catch per week. Whoopee.

Match Against the Defense: The Bills played a fairly even game in New England to start the year but they had the advantage of rolling out a new offense that the Pats had never seen and even then, it didn't matter in the long run. Expect a moderate game from McGahee here with no chance of a score.

Losman needs desperately to find someone outside of Evans worthy of passing to but it hasn't happened yet. Look for a near repeat of week one except Losman should throw for one score.