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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
updated IND at HOU TEN at BUF CIN at DEN NYJ at MIA

Prediction: NE 13, JAX 20

The Patriots hit the road after dismantling the Texans last week but that came after getting shut out in Miami. But the Pats are 5-1 on the road this year and only need one more win - or a Jets loss - to secure the AFC East. The Jaguars are 8-6 and still in the hunt for a wild card spot. A loss here or against the Chiefs in week 17 could easily knock them from contention and at home the Jaguars are 6-1 this year.

New England Patriots (10-4)
1 19-17 BUF 10 14-17 NYJ
2 24-17 @NYJ 11 35-0 @GB
3 7-17 DEN 12 17-13 CHI
4 38-13 @CIN 13 28-21 DET
5 20-10 MIA 14 0-21 @MIA
6 Open Bye 15 40-7 HOU
7 28-6 @BUF 16 --- @JAX
8 31-7 @MIN 17 --- @TEN
9 20-27 IND - - MON
NEP at JAX Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 200,1
RB Corey Dillon 60 10 0
RB Kevin Faulk 10 30 0
TE Dave Thomas 0 10 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 40 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 40,1 0
WR Troy Brown 0 30 0
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Patriots had little trouble beating down the Texans last week but the previous game against the Dolphins showed that all is not well when facing a stout defense on the road.

Quarterback: Tom Brady comes off a win over the Texans where he only threw for 109 yards but scored twice and completed 16 of 23 - it was one of those "why pass" games. He only threw for 78 yards in Miami before being benched but had been quite good on the road this year. His two previous away games both had four scores and 250 or more yards but came in Green Bay where it was not a surprise and Minnesota where the defense is in decline. Brady has been all over the map with production this year and has two games with four scores but three games without any.

Running Backs: Laurence Maroney missed his second straight game with torn rib cartilage. The rookie has been questionable on the injury report with a back issue, but the rib injury could continue to keep him off the field. While Maroney has been gone, Corey Dillon has only gained around 70 yards per game and last week was the first time this season he went two consecutive games without a score. Dillon has never gained over 80 rushing yards in any game this year.

The surprise last week was the use of Kevin Faulk who ran for 22 yards on four carries with a touchdown and caught two passes for 46 yards and another score. Faulk had recently been used in the passing game more but had no significant action in any game this year. He does show up more when the Patriots are going against a tough defense as a third down player for receptions.

Wide Receivers: In the past the Patriots rarely relied on any one receiver for two straight weeks but at least players like David Givens and Deion Branch performed well enough to warrant fantasy consideration. This year - no such luck. The close to reliable is Reche Caldwell who only had seven catches for 37 yards over the last two games. Jabar Gaffney scored last week on his only catch in the game.

Tight Ends: Benjamin Watson missed his first game of the season with a left knee injury suffered in the previous week's loss in Miami. In his place, Dave Thomas had three catches for 24 yards and assumedly is not the same guy on the Wendy's commercials. (actually a rookie from Texas).

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots face a stout defense this week on their turf and previous games against Denver and Chicago were hard fought battles. And now the Patriots are more injured than in those weeks. Expect just moderate numbers from Dillon who is no longer a full-time runner but is without Maroney. There's a chance that Dillon could score once but the Pats would have to be on the one-yard line for it to happen.

Brady will have to win this game but he faces a motivated defense that has only allowed three passing scores by opponents during the entire year. Look for one score here and only moderate yardage.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 11 4 19 5 22 14
Preventing Fantasy Points JAX 4 3 4 7 3 20


Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6)
1 24-17 DAL 10 10-13 HOU
2 9-0 PIT 11 26-10 NYG
3 14-21 @IND 12 24-27 @BUF
4 30-36 @WAS 13 24-10 @MIA
5 41-0 NYJ 14 44-17 IND
6 Open Bye 15 17-24 @TEN
7 7-27 @HOU 16 --- NE
8 13-6 @PHI 17 --- @KC
9 37-7 TEN - - MON
JAX vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB David Garrard 30,1 0 190
RB Maurice Drew 80,1 40 0
TE George Wrighster 0 20 0
TE Marcedes Lewis 0 10 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 60 0
WR Ernest Wilford 0 10 0
WR Matt Jones 0 40 0
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars suffered a loss to the Titans last week despite ruling them offensively. Then again, giving away three touchdowns to the defense tends to make the game a bit more difficult. Compounding their trouble was a natural let down after a big win over the Colts in week 14. While the Jaguars have lost six games this year, they have won their last six home games while never allowing more than 17 points to their opponent - including the Colts two weeks ago.

Quarterback: David Garrard comes off a painful loss thanks to scoring more points for the Titans defense than the Jaguars offense but he remains more of a game manager most weeks thanks to heading up one of the best rushing attacks in the league. Garrard hasn't thrown a touchdown at home in the last three games because he has never needed to.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor aggravated his hamstring injury on his second carry and sat out the Titans game. The assumption is that he will miss this week since he showed that playing before he is ready only makes his hamstring worse.

Maurice Drew-Jones continued to make his case for Rookie of the Year when he ran for 98 yards on 15 carries with one touchdown and 47 yards on three receptions last week. Jones-Drew has scored in each of the last six games. He left the Titans game late because of a knee sprain but was x-rayed and given an MRI which were negative. Latest report is that he will play this week and that the injury is not as bad as feared.

Projections are for Jones-Drew to play without limitation and for Taylor to miss this week. Updates as warranted.

Wide Receivers: The success of the rushing game has been a big help for the wideouts. Matt Jones has scored in three of the last four games and even Reggie Williams is getting better stats lately, gaining 88 yards just last week. But this unit is only to support the running game and if Taylor and Jones are not in the game, the dynamics change significantly. Ernest Wilford is back to minimal production each week.

Tight Ends: Both George Wrighster and Marcedes Lewis have figured in recent weeks with Wrighster typically turning in around 30 yards per game while Lewis has around 20.

Match Against the Defense: Much of this depends on a healthy Jones-Drew. The Patriots had been outstanding against running backs this year but the injury to NT Vince Wolfork has opened up things in the last two weeks. Sammy Morris gained 123 yards on 23 carries and even Ron Dayne had 94 yards on 18 runs last week and both players scored once. Look for a good game from Jones-Drew here with one score and over 100 total yards if not in rushing alone - if he is healthy.

Garrard goes against a very good secondary as well and after last week, Garrard will be extra careful throwing the ball. Expect only moderate yardage here at best to set up the run and one score that is more likely on a run.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points JAX 19 2 25 19 5 21
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 2 6 12 1 6 17