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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night
On Bye

Prediction: NEP 31, DAL 24

Needless to say, this is the most anticipated game of the weekend between two of the three remaining unbeaten teams. The Cowboys came shockingly close to marring this match-up by squeaking past the Bills in shocking fashion but within that game are the seeds of Dallas' defeat. The Patriots do not mail in games or get caught under prepared. The Cowboys have enough chinks in the armor that a late game comeback will finally not be enough. The loser of this match-up still gets a small gift - they no longer have to carry the burden of "when will they lose?" and can lose the media circus just as fast as the Romo bandwagon was clearing by halftime of the Monday night game.

Update: Laurence Maroney has been "limited" in practice this week as he was the last two weeks when he did not play. There are reports that he looked pretty good in practice but with the Patriots misinformation and lack of verifiability is the rule. There is a chance that Maroney could play this week and holding him out against the Browns to play in Dallas would make sense but as always, play Maroney at your own risk. This is a later game on Sunday so if you have to submit lineups before the first kickoff of the day you will not know if he is playing or not. A groin injury can certainly linger though and the safest bet here is to not start him. I will not add him back into the projections until he does actually play and prove he is healthy. Until then, it is just optimistic speculation to expect him to do much for a team that specialized in keeping everyone in the dark.

The same is true for Donte Stallworth who was limited this week though I expect he will play. For what it is worth, Brady is "limited" in every practice every week and he has not missed a game since 2001.

New England Patriots (5-0)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NYJ 38-14 -6.5 40.5
2 SD 38-14 -3 47
3 BUF 38-7 -16.5 41
4 @CIN 34-13    
5 CLE 34-17 -15.5 48
6 @DAL   -4 52
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
NEP at DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     310,3
RB Sammy Morris 60 10  
TE Ben Watson   20  
WR Randy Moss   110,2  
WR Donte Stallworth   60  
WR Wes Welker   80,1  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 4 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Patriots biggest detraction this year is that they are just boring to watch. Brady is always going to get his three touchdown passes and the Pats are going to win by roughly three touchdowns. The best this game can offer is that a big lead by New England is not safe at least in theory since the Cowboys this year pour it on in the fourth quarter. Laurence Maroney has been amply replaced by Sammy Morris and even when the Pats do not use Randy Moss much, the results are still almost exactly the same. Get past the Cowboys this week and the week nine game in Indianapolis could be the most hyped of the year, at least until those two teams meet in the AFC Championship game.

Quarterback: Tom Brady has thrown for three scores in every game this year except for once when he had four touchdowns. With 16 scores in five games, he is on a pace for 51 touchdowns and 4400 passing yards. That simply cannot happen but only because the Patriots are going to wrap up the AFC East by mid-season and eventually have nothing to play for but to keep the stars healthy for the playoffs. That's going to sting in week 16 when fantasy championships are going on. Going to hurt really badly.

Running Backs: Laurence Maroney has now missed two games with an unspecified groin injury and no doubt the information on him will look exactly the same as it has the last two weeks. There is a good chance that the Patriots wanted Maroney to completely heal up for this week knowing they could beat the Browns last Sunday. There is no chance you can know that for sure when you start Maroney this week.

Sammy Morris has been more than adequate with Maroney out and has recorded 100+ rushing yards both weeks. Morris also has three rushing scores to none for Maroney. The best fantasy outcome here is that Maroney is out so that Morris owners get all the action, otherwise they just cancel each other out.

I am assuming that Maroney misses another week and will update if it appears he will play. As always, start at your own risk.

Wide Receivers: After four straight games over 100 yards and scoring at least once and usually twice, Randy Moss finally had a down week against the Browns. No reason to expect that to happen again this week - Moss has always played well in Dallas with far lesser teams. Donte Stallworth is healthy, for now, and comes off his best game of the year of four catches for 65 yards and his first score of the year. Wes Welker started the year out red hot but has cooled in the last two weeks but he's always there when Brady needs him. In five blowouts so far, Brady hasn't really needed any individual player. Going against the Cowboys secondary should force Brady to return to spreading the wealth.

Tight Ends: Just when it appeared that Benjamin Watson was falling out of the game plan, he caught six passes for 107 yards and two scores last week against the Browns. That was probably by design because exactly which guy gets the most coverage in this offense this week?

Match Against the Defense: The Dallas rushing defense has been very good this year and only allowed one rushing score and most runners ring in with less than 60 rushing yards and only Benson in Chicago has rushed in a score against them. Expect just moderate rushing yardage in this game.

Brady faces a secondary that looks better than it is since facing Trent Edwards, Rex Grossman and a battered Marc Bulger has helped the stats. This is the same secondary that Eli Manning threw for 312 yards and four scores against and may not even be as healthy as that one. I like the Pats to know they have to keep scoring because of the Cowboy's tendency to catch fire late. And that will help all receivers here and Moss the most - Dallas simply cannot afford to focus too much on him. I also like the Pats to get one defensive score here.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 2 9 3 6 5 2
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 11 5 19 2 8 29


Dallas Cowboys (5-0)
Homefield: Texas Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 NYG 45-35 -5.5 44
2 @MIA 37-20 -3.5 40.5
3 @CHI 34-10 +3 41
4 STL 35-7 -13 47
5 @BUF 25-24 -10 42
6 NE   +4 52
7 MIN 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 BYE - - -
9 @PHI 4-Nov SUN 8:15 PM
10 @NYG 11-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
11 WAS 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 NYJ 22-Nov THU 4:15 PM
13 GB 29-Nov THU 8:15 PM
14 @DET 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 PHI 16-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
16 @CAR 22-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
17 @WAS 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
DAL vs NEP Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     300,3
RB Julius Jones 40    
RB Marion Barber 40 40  
TE Jason Witten   70,1  
WR Terrell Owens   80,1  
WR Patrick Crayton   90,1  
WR Sam Hurd   20  
PK Nick Folk 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: Nothing like taking an interesting trek to 5-0. The win in Buffalo was thrilling and improbable but it also happened against a team that on paper the Cowboys should have dispatched handily. After facing what turns out to be a lighter schedule, now the Cowboys get a true test if they are up to the task of competing in a Super Bowl. With a weak NFC class, the Cowboys already are running on the inside track to reach the playoffs but waiting until the second half to start scoring points may be wishful thinking this week against a very solid New England team. The Cowboys can afford this loss but a win would truly be huge for the franchise. Problem is that the same factors that allowed the Bills to nearly win on Monday won't be any easier this week.

Quarterback: Tony Romo has now thrown for over 300 yards in four of the first five games and has yet to have less than two touchdowns in any week. Last week proved troublesome when Romo could not read the coverages and threw a career high five interceptions which saw two returned for touchdowns. To his credit, Romo remained calm and finally led the Cowboys on a drive to score a touchdown and then threw the pass to set up the game winning field goal. There's no doubt that this game is on Romo to not only make the plays but to avoid the mistakes.

Running Backs: Marion Barber scored five times in the first three games but has been denied the last two weeks while Julius Jones has been getting more playing time. Jones scored once against the Rams and finally had more yardage than Barber (41 vs. 28 yards) last week but in a tough game that demanded passing, Barber had a season high six catches for 45 yards in Buffalo. That ability will be even more important this week.

Wide Receivers: Terrell Owens spent the first three weeks of the season being the star of the passing game but has only caught five passes for 58 yards over the last two weeks while Patrick Crayton has become the hot target. Crayton has scored in each of the last two weeks and been the lead wideout for the Cowboys while the defense chases Terrell Owens all over the field. Owens has dropped a few passes lately as well and must show up big this week for the Cowboys to have a chance.

Tight Ends: Other than the one game in Miami, Jason Witten has scored once in each game and now has three games over 90 yards on the season, He has bypassed Owens and Crayton as the most productive Cowboys receiver and comes off a season high nine catches for 103 yards in Buffalo.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots rushing defense has been outstanding this year allowing only one rushing score and no runner has topped 74 yards against them. Then again, no runner has had the chance for more than 20 carries because the Pats always get a big lead and force opponents to throw the ball. Expect only moderate rushing numbers here though Barber should have decent numbers as a receiver.

Romo has to avoid interceptions and his performance last week could affect how willing he is to make the tight throw against the Patriots. But the Pats good numbers against the pass have come against several less than stellar quarterbacks and three times they gave up two scores to opponents. Though it may require a pass heavy fourth quarter to get there, I like Romo to pass for 300 yards and three scores in this game. That should end up split between Witten (Gates and Winslow both scored on NE) and Owens and Crayton. The bottom line to this game is less about who can score on offense and more about who makes the mistakes along the way. That clearly favors the Pats.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 1 4 6 2 2 11
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 9 4 12 21 2 1

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night
On Bye

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