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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket

Sunday night

Prediction: NE 27, NYJ 17

Here's one of those fun match-ups from last year. The Patriots won 24-17 on the road in week 2 against the Jets last year but then lost 14-17 at home in week 10 when ex-Patriot coach Eric Mangini paid his ex-boss a visit he won't soon forget. And certainly not this week for sure.

Update: Thomas Jones remained limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday and HC Eric Mangini is following the lead of his old boss Bill Belichick by saying very little about the injury or his expectation this week. I am downgrading Jones from the risk factor alone, plus facing a good defense as well.

New England Patriots (12-4)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NYJ   -6.5 40.5
2 SD 16-Sep SUN 8:15 PM
3 BUF 23-Sep SUN 1:00 PM
4 @CIN 1-Oct MON 8:30 PM
5 CLE 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 @DAL 14-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
7 @MIA 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 WAS 28-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
9 @IND 4-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
10 BYE - - -
11 @BUF 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 PHI 25-Nov SUN 8:15 PM
13 @BAL 3-Dec MON 8:30 PM
14 PIT 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 NYJ 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 MIA 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 @NYG 29-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
NE at NYJ Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     270,2
RB Laurence Maroney 100,1 10  
RB Sammy Morris      
TE Ben Watson   30  
WR Randy Moss   60,1  
WR Donte Stallworth   60  
WR Wes Welker   70,1  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP 9 Pts
Pregame Notes: The Patriots were unable to do their annual "leave the Colts crying in the playoffs" and finally Bill "Hoodie" Belichick came to the conclusion that maybe having more than marginal wideouts could make a difference. At least perhaps they would not drop passes in the FREAKING ENDZONE IN THE PLAYOFFS... ahem... so anyway, Tom Brady gets the corporate VISA in the offseason and now the Patriots have so many wideouts that they just released Reche Caldwell, their #1 guy from last year. The loss of Dillon casts at least some shadow of concern on the rushing game but we finally get to see what Tom Brady is all about with "name" wideouts at his disposal for the first time.

Quarterback: Playing with nothing more than Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney, Tom Brady still managed to throw for 3533 yards last season and 24 touchdowns. In 2005, he led the NFL in passing yardage with Deion Branch and David "where'd you go?" Givens. Now he has Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, Kelley Washington to add to Gaffney and tight end Ben Watson, Oh yes, this is worth watching.

Brady threw for 220 and 255 yards against the Jets last year with a score in each game.

Running Backs: With Corey Dillon gone, it appears that Laurence Maroney is now all alone in the backfield - or is he? Maroney ran for 745 yards on 204 carries last year but he suffered through three different injuries and missed two games while playing less than 100% in most of the others. When Maroney looked good, he looked awesome and this offense should present no shortage of opportunities. But the question will be - can he remain healthy and will you ever know when submitting your weekly lineup?

Maroney missed much of training camp recovering from shoulder surgery but is expected - for now - to be healthy.

The Patriots also brought in Sammy Morris which at first glance looks just like needed depth but Morris ripped off 123 yards on 25 carries in one of his rare starts last year - and it was against the Patriots. Belichick loves to get the players that have been a problem in the past (see Wes Welker, Miami Slot guy). At this point Morris is likely to just be relief and a replacement if Maroney is injured but it bears watching for all Maroney owners. Also if Morris remains on your waiver wire.

Maroney ran for 65 yards and a score on 16 carries in the week 2 meeting against the Jets (Dillon had 80 yards in that game as well). In week 12, Maroney only managed 37 yards on 12 carries but Dillon had 98 yards on 11 runs.

Wide Receivers: The stage is certainly set. Randy Moss has healed up from his hamstring injury of the summer and is expected to play this week. Donte Stallworth has not reached his hamstring strain this year yet and Wes Welker in the slot was deadly for Joey Harrington - what about with Brady? It is a diverse offensive scheme that rarely uses any individual much but with so much to choose from, it demands attention early on this season. Look for Moss as an endzone target and Welker moving the chains. New England wideouts have only had marginal value in the past because of sharing the load but this year that could change, And it Maroney gets hurt, it will become very interesting.

Reche Caldwell had 90 yards and a score in week 10 against the visiting Jets but no other wideout had more than 51 yards in either game.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson remains a Brady favorite but how much that continues with so many other targets now remains to be seen. It has to decrease his workload at least a little from his 60 catches for 657 yards last year and could really dig into it if the wideouts deliver big.

Watson caught three passes for 39 yards in New York last season but only had 16 yards on two catches in week 10.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots still remember losing at home to the Jets last year and that will play into this game. Look for Maroney to have a nice game here against a defense that Brady can beat. The Jets Achilles heel was the run last year so expect Maroney to start the season out with a bang and about 100 yards.

Brady already threw for good yardage twice last year and that was without this cast of improved wideouts. The Patriots want to start the season out right, so expect very healthy passing yardage here with at least two scores. Those will favor the wideouts of course, and Moss seems just like a given to receive one of them.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 11 4 19 5 19 11
Preventing Fantasy Points NYJ 12 25 13 18 5 5
rankings reflect as of week 17, 2006


New York Jets (10-6)
Homefield: Giants Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 NE   +6.5 40.5
2 @BAL 16-Sep SUN 4:15 PM
3 MIA 23-Sep SUN 1:00 PM
4 @BUF 30-Sep SUN 1:00 PM
5 @NYG 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 PHI 14-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
7 @CIN 21-Oct SUN 4:05 PM
8 BUF 28-Oct SUN 4:05 PM
9 WAS 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 BYE - - -
11 PIT 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 @DAL 22-Nov THU 4:15 PM
13 @MIA 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 CLE 9-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
15 @NE 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @TEN 23-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
17 KC 30-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
NYJ vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Pennington     250,2
RB Thomas Jones 50 10  
RB Leon Washington 20 40  
TE Chris Baker   20  
WR Laveranues Coles   60,1  
WR Jerricho Cotchery   80,1  
WR Justin McCareins   30  
PK Mike Nugent 1 FG 2 XP 5 Pts

Pregame Notes: HC Eric Mangini's first year was a rousing success at 10-6 with a trip to the playoffs. The defense was solid, the running game somehow scored 15 rushing touchdowns and Chad Pennington remained healthy ALL YEAR. It simply could not have gone better for a first year coach and year two looks even better with Thomas Jones and a team no longer learning new schemes.

Quarterback: After seven years in the league, Chad Pennington finally put it all together and turned in a healthy, solid season. He threw for 3352 yards and 17 scores against only 16 interceptions. Did I mention he was healthy all year? It's just never happened before. Pennington made great use of both Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery and this year should be even better with a running game by Thomas Jones that should demand respect.

Pennington threw for 306 yards and two scores against the visiting Patriots last year but only managed 168 yards and one touchdown in week 10 as a visitor.

Running Backs: The Jets brought in Thomas Jones this year which fills a huge need - no running back here had more than 650 yards even though the unit scored 15 times on the ground last year. Jones was hampered by a calf injury in the preseason but is expected to play this week. What will be most interesting is how much Leon Washington is used as well. He proved to be a great open field runner and receiver out of the backfield and could make a perfect complement to Jones hard-nosed running. Mangini has already expressed a desire to use both players.

Wide Receivers: While only two here matter, they both had good fantasy value last year and actually became more 1A and 1B by the end of the year. Laveranues Coles ended with 91 catches for 1098 yards and six scores while Jerricho Cotchery turned in 82 receptions for 961 yards and another six touchdowns. Justin McCareins remains in the slot for marginal use, but secondaries cannot gang up against either wideout without the other one killing them. All brought to life by a healthy Chad Pennington.

Coles had 100 yards and one score against the visiting Pats last year but was held to just 29 yards on five catches on the road. Cotchery scored in both meetings, gaining 121 yards and later 70 yards on the road.

Tight Ends: Chris Baker remains the primary receiving tight end here but that only accounted for 31 catches and 400 yards last year. He good enough to fill a bye week but the offense won't make him a top ten tight end any times soon.

No Jets tight end had more than 10 yards in either meeting with the Pats last year.

Match Against the Defense: This is played in New York which is a good thing for the Jets but look for the healthy Patriots to know enough this go around to hold all players to moderate numbers. The Pats rushing defense is always solid and Jones is coming off a calf injury. Since I like the Pats to get a lead and then extend it as payback for the loss in Foxboro last year, that means the Jets will be forced to throw more often and earlier than last year. That still favors Coles and Cotchery the most but should extend to giving Leon Johnson some catches this week as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points NYJ 26 19 12 28 18 19
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 2 6 11 1 6 12

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