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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 1, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
GB at BUF NO at TB CLE at SD *updated NYJ, PHI

Prediction: NO 16, TB 20

This is a rematch of the week five game when the Saints won 24-21 in New Orleans. The Saints come off a humbling loss to the Ravens and the Bucs were also humbled in New York by the Giants last week. But the Bucs have won their last two home games and the Saints have only been on the road once in the last six weeks. This will be close but a bit much for the Saints to get back onto their feet. While New Orleans is not running well lately, the Bucs have their passing game on a milk carton so anything could happen here.

Update: I am not changing the projections but Bush remains questionable to play this week. He was held out some on Wednesday but practiced fully on Thursday and should play. Joe Horn has also been held out and is questionable with what is described as a slight groin strain but he is expected to play as well.

New Orleans Saints (5-2)
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 24-21 TB 14 --- @DAL
6 27-24 PHI 15 --- WAS
7 Open Bye 16 --- @NYG
8 22-35 BAL 17 --- CAR
9 --- @TB - - MON
NOR at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 210,1
RB Reggie Bush 20 40 0
RB Deuce McAllister 60 10 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 20 0
WR Joe Horn 0 70,1 0
WR Marques Colston 0 50 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 20 0
PK John Carney 3 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens certainly broke the glass slipper last week when they dismantled the Saints. That was the first time that the Saints had gone against a big defense this year and the results were a disaster. At home no less. Starting in week 10, the Saints are on the road every other week and those games against PIT, ATL, DAL and NYG are not going to be making the impressive rejuvenation of the franchise any easier. This week starts the much tougher half of the season and the Saints only won by a field goal at home in week five.

Quarterback: The Saints lost to the Ravens but having the entire second half become trash time for Drew Brees was a boon to fantasy owners. Brees comes off his best game of the year with 383 passing yards and three scores last week though he did throw up three interceptions and lose a fumble. Coupled with the three scores from the previous game against the Eagles has Brees tied for 7th best in the NFL with 11 passing scores. While Brees only threw for 171 yards and one score in the previous meeting with the Bucs, his last two road games were GB and CAR where he had over 350 passing yards in each. When the Saints fall behind - Brees can rack up the points. And when it is all trash time - even more points.

Running Backs: The rushing game was dormant during last week's spanking by the Ravens and Reggie Bush sprained his left ankle. Bush says that the ankle is okay and that he will play this week.

Deuce McAllister burned the Bucs for 123 yards and a score on just 15 carries back in week five but that was easily his best game of the year and was propped up by one long run. On the road the last two times, he has remained below 50 yards in each though he did record rushing scores against the Panthers and Packers. . Reggie Bush only had 23 yards on nine carries against the Bucs in week five but added 11 receptions for 63 yards. Bush hasn't run for more than 25 yards in any game for the last month. His pass catching is down as well, with most games clocking in with just four receptions and about 40 yards.

Wide Receivers: Marques Colston has to be the biggest surprise of the year given that he was not even drafted in many leagues. His quest to become the next Anquan Boldin with an amazing rookie season already has six touchdowns and two games over 130 receiving yards. Colston has already scored in five different games this year despite defenses now accounting for him but his height and sheer volume of passes has made the rookie a huge benefit for fantasy squads. That all said, now Colston heads to Tampa Bay to face the one team that shut him down this year. He only had three catches for 38 yards that week.

Joe Horn had been quiet for the entire season until two weeks ago when he suddenly rekindled the Horn of old. He has scored three times in those two games with a total of 236 receiving yards. Horn only had 48 yards on four catches in the previous meeting with the Bucs.

Tight Ends: Mark Campbell has replaced Ernie Conwell who is recovering from knee surgery for at least another week and Campbell comes off the best performance by a Saints tight end this season when he had four catches for 42 yards against the Ravens. Prior to that game, the tight ends would rarely have more than one inconsequential catch each week though Conwell had the lone passing score in the last meeting with the Bucs.

Match Against the Defense: The Saints have not been running well as of late and only have their previous match-up against the Bucs as a big effort on the year thanks to a 57-yard run by McAllister. Bush is nursing a sore ankle and Deuce comes off a horrible game against the Ravens. Look for much less rushing this week than there was in week five and no running scores.

Brees had only marginal success against the Bucs because the one strength of the defense is on the corners and the two Saints wideouts are all that really matters in this scheme. Credit Brees with a passing score in this one but he should end with only moderate yardage. Horn gets the most favorable match-up in this game with Ronde Barber on Colston again.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 10 12 10 13 5 16
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 23 24 5 16 15 17


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)
1 0-27 BAL 10 --- @CAR
2 3-14 @ATL 11 --- WAS
3 24-26 CAR 12 --- @DAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- @PIT
5 21-24 @NO 14 --- ATL
6 14-13 CIN 15 --- @CHI
7 23-21 PHI 16 --- @CLE
8 3-17 @NYG 17 --- SEA
9 --- NO - MON THU
TBB vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Bruce Gradkowski 0 0 180,1
RB Cadillac Williams 100,1 10 0
RB Michael Pittman 10 20 0
TE Alex Smith 0 20,1 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 90 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 20 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 10 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: That big win over the Eagles was soon forgotten when the Buccaneers went to windy New York and were blown away by the Giants. That's no major surprise though since this team has only played in three road games and twice ended up with just three points. They have lost all three including the week five match-up with these Saints. After this week the season looks pretty bleak since the easy part of the schedule will be past and the Bucs will have five road games over seven weeks.

Quarterback: Chris Simms got a second opinion regarding his recovery from a splenectomy and is now expected to be placed on injured reserve. That leaves Bruce Gradkowski to figure out how to replicate his 225 yards and two scores in New Orleans this season. It was his first start and he's been far less impressive with game film out on him now. In the last two weeks, he has only turned games of 104 (PHI) and 139 (NYG) yards without any touchdowns. To his credit he only has one interception on the season but he's struggling just like a sixth round rookie would be expected.

Running Backs: After three strong weeks, Carnell Williams comes off his worst game of the year when he only gained 20 yards on eight carries against the Giants. He had remained above 80 yards in each of the three previous games including a season high of 111 yards on 20 carries against the Saints in week five. With Gradkowski doing little with the passing game, Williams needs to come up big this week.

Wide Receivers: Joey Galloway had 110 yards and a score on only four catches in New Orleans this year but he's felt the pinch of Gradkowski's learning curve the last two weeks when he had no catches against the Eagles and only 32 yards on four receptions against the Giants. Galloway still gets most of the passes but the secondary is well aware of him and has taken him out of the equation recently. Neither Michael Clayton nor Ike Hilliard is stepping up or even getting more than a couple of passes per week. The lack of a passing threat means the rushing game has gone south and Galloway is disappearing.

Tight Ends: The one player that has benefited from Gradkowski has been Alex Smith who scored once and had five catches for 16 yards in New Orleans in week five and then again against the Bengals. But Smith has only had three catches for 18 yards over the last two weeks and like the rest of the receivers has become a non-factor recently.

Match Against the Defense: Carnell Williams had his best game of the year in New Orleans and back at home should be just as good. Expect a game here that should end around 100 rushing yards and one score. That's a little optimistic given the history of both teams but this is a nice set-up for the Bucs at home to put together a solid effort.

Gradkowski faces a secondary that already gave him two scores - and also every other quarterback for the last month. But Gradkowski is not throwing very well lately and will settle for the one score that should favor Alex Smith. Galloway should have a bounce back game here as well, with a favorable match-up that already gave him his best game of the year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 30 21 26 16 32 20
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 30 13 21 30 3 18