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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 27, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
ATL at PHI DET at DAL NE at TEN STL at MIN Sunday Nite
BUF at BAL OAK at NYJ updated GB at CHI

Prediction: NE 17, TEN 20

The Patriots have clinched the AFC East and the die is cast - they will host a first round game and then be on the road for as long as they last. The Patriots have nothing to win in this game. The Titans amazingly started out 0-5 on the season and are now 8-7 with a shot at a wildcard if they win here and the Bengals and Denver lose while the Chiefs win. Unlikely but then again if any team could pull off a surprising last minute win - it would have to be the Titans.

New England Patriots (11-4)
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 24-21 @JAX
8 31-7 @MIN 17 --- @TEN
9 20-27 IND - - MON
NEP at TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 200,1
RB Corey Dillon 50 0 0
RB Lawrence Maroney 50,1 10 0
TE Dave Thomas 0 30 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 20 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 50 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 50,1 0
WR Troy Brown 0 30 0
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Patriots have made amends for that skunk in Miami with the big win over the Texans and then taking down the Jaguars in Jacksonville last week. Laurence Maroney is back and all that is left is to get through this game and then let Brady get his mojo back for the playoffs.

Quarterback: No doubt that Tom Brady will start this week but there's a chance that he may hand off to Matt Cassell before it is over. Brady ends the season with lesser production that he started the season with - he's only thrown for three scores over the last four games. But Brady has won the division and this week all he is doing is giving opposing defensive coordinators more game film on himself.

Running Backs: Laurence Maroney returned last week and while he only had seven carries, he gained 48 yards and scored once. Maroney has been out since week 13 while Corey Dillon has been turning in around three yards per carry in most games this year. Maroney's return is well timed but in a meaningless game this week, he could be limited just to keep him healthy.

Wide Receivers: There are no changes to this crew that basically has no primary wideout nor even a reliable one from week to week. As always, they usually get the job done in total but individually there is no reliable fantasy value in any of them.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson has been out since week 14 and the rookie Dave Thomas has replaced him. Thomas turned in five catches for 83 yards and a score last week - more than he had done in the entire season combined to that point. Thomas was a favored receiver for his opponent's quarterback just last year - Vince Young at Texas.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots have nothing to win here and yet the Titans do (potentially anyway). The Titans defense been soft in almost every facet this year despite the Titans offense being just a smidgen better than recent opponents. The Patriots are always a challenge to forecast and with nothing on the line but to keep players healthy, this is all pure speculation at this point.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 12 4 21 4 22 13
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 24 28 29 24 25 6


Tennessee Titans (8-7)
1 16-23 NYJ 10 26-27 BAL
2 7-40 @SD 11 31-13 @PHI
3 10-13 @MIA 12 24-21 NYG
4 14-45 DAL 13 20-17 IND
5 13-14 @IND 14 26-20 @HOU
6 25-22 @WAS 15 24-17 JAX
7 Open Bye 16 30-29 @BUF
8 28-22 HOU 17 --- NE
9 7-37 @JAX - - -
TEN vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Vince Young 60,1 0 170
RB Travis Henry 100,1 10 0
TE Ben Hartsock 0 20 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 60 0
WR Bobby Wade 0 40 0
WR Brandon Jones 0 50 0
PK Rob Bironas 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: One of the best features of the 2006 NFL season has been the many pleasant surprises around the league as with the Saints. But perhaps no surprise is bigger that the Titans would start out at 0-5 and now still be in contention for a wildcard in week 17 of the regular season. The Titans are on a six game winning streak - longer than any other team in the league. Vince Young has been not only exciting and successful, but it's hard to look back every week and figure out exactly how he did it - but he did get it done however it had to come. This is a franchise with below average players in almost every skill position on offense and yet a six game winning streak and a level of excitement unseen in Tennessee in years says that the first round pick last April was indeed the right one.

Quarterback: Vince Young is winding down his rookie season that began in week four when he took the reins from Kerry Collins. Young has thrown for 12 scores this year and has rushed in six touchdowns (tops among NFL quarterbacks) . What he does from game to game varies greatly with performances as low as 63 passing yards and as high as 249. Young is second only to Michael Vick with 534 rushing yards but he only has 1972 passing yards. But he is also a "get it done" machine and by now it is not because teams are taking the Titans too lightly. Young is only a rookie that was supposed to be too raw to play early and yet he is 8-4 as a starter. Two of his losses (IND and BAL) came by one point so for the want of just two points in two games, the Titans would be 10-5 and have been 10-1 in the last 11 games. Amazing.

Running Backs: Travis Henry has scored only seven times this year but he has been solid as a starter and already has five games over 100 yards and already has 1109 rushing yards on the season. Not bad for a player that was expected to play behind Chris Brown and LenDale White this season.

Wide Receivers: Young has a habit of using a wideout heavily in one week and then not using him at all the next game. Drew Bennett had a nice 113 yard effort in week 14 and hasn't had a catch since. Brandon Jones comes off a 101 yard game with one score last week but had no catches in the previous week. This is what would happen if Tom Brady stopped throwing short passes and took off running half a dozen times a game (supposing he had the rushing ability of Young which maybe no one does outside of Vick).

Tight Ends: Young liked his tight ends earlier in the year but most of them are injured now and Young is getting it done with the wideouts lately.

Match Against the Defense: The Titans are just as tough to forecast and matchup against as the Patriots are. You know some good things are going to happen but each week it seems to vary exactly what will. Figure the passing game here to be lower against a very solid secondary but the Patriots have been dinged by the run in recent games thanks in part to Vince Wilfork being out. Look for nice games here by both Henry and Young, but the rest is about as predictable as a dice roll.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 10 24 29 17 27 4
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 2 8 11 1 5 13