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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 25, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
BAL at NO SF at CHI NYJ at CLE NE at MIN  
HOU at TEN TB at NYG PIT at OAK   updated

Prediction: STL 20, SD 34

The Rams come off their bye week now tied with the Seahawks in the NFC West and hit the road where their only loss has been a shocker in San Francisco. The Chargers come off a painful loss in Kansas City that sinks them two games behind the Broncos in the AFC West and what's worse, the defense has taken some major hits thanks to injuries and a suspension. But where so ever goeth Tomlinson and Gates, so goeth a chance to win the game. The Chargers have only played in two home games this season and most recently beat PIT there. The defensive player losses for San Diego are no help to be sure, but back at home just means Rivers and company may need to score more points.

St. Louis Rams (4-2)
1 18-10 DEN 10 --- @SEA
2 13-20 @SF 11 --- @CAR
3 16-14 @ARZ 12 --- SF
4 41-34 DET 13 --- ARZ
5 23-20 @GB 14 --- CHI
6 28-30 SEA 15 --- @OAK
7 Open Bye 16 --- WAS
8 --- @SD 17 --- @MIN
9 --- KC - - MON
STL at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 250,2
RB Steven Jackson 60 50 0
TE J. Klopfenstein 0 40,1 0
WR Torry Holt 0 80,1 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 40 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 20 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Rams on the road have won their last two games but the Packers and the Cardinals are hardly the same as the Chargers. The new Linehan offense is starting to take shape though and has averaged about 30 points per game for the last three weeks. They'll need that sort of output to stay up with the Chargers this week.

Quarterback: After starting with two mediocre games, Marc Bulger is right back to the same level he had with Mike Martz. His has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his last four games and scored eight times over the last three games. Bulger is not getting sacked as often as he did in previous years and that should keep him healthy. What remains to be seen is if Bulger can continue to post his gaudy numbers by zeroing in on Torry Holt so heavily or if he will improve on spreading the ball around more.

The Rams have used the tight end position much more than under Martz, but that still doesn't account for more than around 30 yards per game and Isaac Bruce has actually been used less as the season progresses. Either Bulger spreads the ball around or his numbers take a serious dive when an opposing defense actually manages to cover Tory Holt. Most of Bulger's numbers recently have come from far lesser secondaries than what he'll find in San Diego this week.

Running Backs: Unlike Holt and Bulger, Steven Jackson actually turned in his best games in the first two weeks of the season when he had his only efforts over 100 rushing yards in a game. What has propped up his fantasy worth has been his role as a receiver where he has averaged about four catches for 37 yards each week. Jackson has scored once in two of the last three games and both touchdowns came in home games.

Wide Receivers: This has certainly been Torry Holt's best year so far. He has scored in each of the last five games including a three touchdown performance against Seattle in week six. He has topped 100 yards in three of the last four games as well. Perhaps even more impressive is that he has only once had less than 13 targets and five catches in a game - and yet he still scored.

Isaac Bruce was a solid complement to Holt for the first four weeks but only had seven catches for 68 yards over the last two games and only has one score on the year. The Rams are not using many multiple receiver sets so Holt and Bruce share far more offensive plays than any other wideouts who have yet to turn in more than three catches in a week and usually just one or two. This passing attack so far is all about Bruce and Holt and lately - it's just been Holt.

Tight Ends: Joe Klopfenstein's rookie year has been fairly quite, but for an offense that rarely ever used a tight end prior to this year, he's been a fairly consistent element in the pass attack with usually two catches per game that are deeper than most tight end receptions. While he only has 118 receiving yards on the season, he's averaging a hefty 16.8 yards per catch.

Match Against the Defense: The Chargers go into this game without DE Igor Shansky (knee), OLB Shaun Phillips (calf) or OLB Shawn Merriman (suspended). That's a whole lot of run-stopping and pass rushing to miss. But Steven Jackson hasn't been running for many yards lately and on the road this game should end up with the Rams trying to keep pace via the pass more. That still favors Jackson who can catch the ball as well but he won't likely score.

Bulger faces a defense that won't be able to rush as well but the secondary remains healthy. Both SF and KC threw for two touchdowns against them in the last two weeks so Bulger should continue with his multi-touchdown trend. No one has thrown for more than 232 yards against the Chargers and that happened just last week on the road. This week look for Bulger to have a tougher time using Holt since no opposing wideout has turned in more than 78 yards against the Chargers and only three have scored against them this year. The Chargers have linebacker problems suddenly and that should favor Jackson the most, with a chance that Klopfenstein could figure in more this week as well.

It's hard not to figure Holt to catch a TD, but he'll hard a much harder time this week than he did in previous games.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 7 16 4 18 2 13
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 6 9 3 27 1 1


San Diego Chargers (4-2)
1 27-0 @OAK 10 --- @CIN
2 40-7 TEN 11 --- @DEN
3 Open Bye 12 --- OAK
4 13-16 @BAL 13 --- @BUF
5 23-13 PIT 14 --- DEN
6 48-19 @SF 15 --- KC
7 27-30 @KC 16 --- @SEA
8 --- STL 17 --- ARZ
9 --- CLE - - MON
SDC vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 0 0 250,2
RB L. Tomlinson 120,2 40 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 50,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 50 0
WR Eric Parker 0 70,1 0
WR Vincent Jackson 0 30 0
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 4 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chargers are just two field goals away from being 6-0 and both losses came on the road against a better than average defense. The defense has been hard hit with injuries and the suspension of Merriman but the offense has really started to bloom under Philip Rivers. Back at home in a game they cannot afford to lose, the Chargers just get to crank up the offense this week to compensate for any defensive shortcomings.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers comes off his third consecutive game with two touchdown passes and completing 25 of 43 for 266 was a major success playing in Kansas City. Rivers has thrown a score to Antonio Gates in every game during this stretch when HC Marty Schottenheimer started letting Rivers loose. For a player only starting his seventh game, Rivers has been good and is still getting better.

Running Backs: The wonderful fact about owning LaDainian Tomlinson in a fantasy league is that even when he doesn't get a lot of rushing yardage, he just becomes a bigger factor in the passing game. He's been averaging seven catches per week for the last three games and even scored via a pass against the Chiefs. Of course, Tomlinson is even more versatile since he threw a touchdown pass as well against the Chiefs - his fifth passing touchdown of his career.

Tomlinson has only topped 100 rushing yards in the first game of the season but as Rivers continues to develop, he has already learned where the safest (if not most productive as well) pass should go - to Tomlinson.

Wide Receivers: With all the action that has gone to both Tomlinson and Gates, there's not a lot left over for the wideouts here but Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker have been managing moderate yardage each week. Neither has scored a touchdown this season but they both remain around 50 yards or more in most games. This offense is all about Gates and Tomlinson and why not? Both players enjoy major mismatches with the defense that neither McCardell nor Parker can get. The Chargers currently have the #1 running back and the #1 tight end. That has to come at the expense of something.

Tight Ends: After a slower start for the first three weeks, Rivers has brought Antonio Gates back to where he belongs - the most valuable tight end in the league. Since Rivers started throwing more three weeks ago, Gates has scored in every game and not been below 55 yards in a game.

Match Against the Defense: Tomlinson is already one of the best backs and he's only had two home games this year. Now he faces a defense that has had the good fortune to face some lackluster rushing games and even then, they've given up some big games. Noah Herron? 106 yards and a score. Edgerrin James had 94 yards and a score. Gore ran for 127 yards and a score. Sure - LT is a little better than those and should enjoy a very nice game here.

Rivers has been on fire lately and now goes against a secondary that has allowed every opponent to throw a touchdown pass this year - Hasselbeck had three against them. Look for two scores here from Rivers only because Tomlinson should handle most the load this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 8 1 22 1 3 12
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 13 21 31 1 22 7