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

Prediction: NO 20, SF 16

Here's a messy game between two 2-4 teams that are already playing for pride. The Saints lost their first four games and now have won two in a row. The 49ers won their first two games and now have lost four in a row. The Saints are not nearly as good as they were last year but the 49ers are every bit as bad as 2006 - maybe even a bit worse.

The Saints beat the visiting 49ers 34-10 during week 13 last year.

Update: Frank Gore was held out of practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday - he is still bothered by the ankle sprain last week that should have knocked him out of the game but he insisted on having it wrapped and played with the pain anyway. He could end up as a gametime decision but Gore will will himself to play if at all possible. I am keeping him in the projections but lowering them since Gore will still have a gimpy ankle to some degree. Darrell Jackson is doubtful this week with a quadricep injury that has not allowed him to practice. I am lowering his projections and he may not play.

New Orleans Saints (2-4)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @IND 10-41 +6 51.5
2 @TB 14-31 -3.5 41.5
3 TEN 14-31 -4 45
4 BYE - - -
5 CAR 13-16 -4 43
6 @SEA 28-17 +6 43
7 ATL 22-16 -9 43
8 @SF   -2.5 40
9 JAC 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 STL 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @HOU 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 @CAR 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 TB 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 @ATL 10-Dec MON 8:30 PM
15 ARI 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 PHI 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 @CHI 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
NOR at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     230,2
RB Reggie Bush 50 50  
TE Eric Johnson   30,1  
WR Marques Colston   40,1  
WR Devery Henderson   30  
WR Lance Moore   30  
WR David Patten   50  
PK Olindo Mare 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Saints have strung together two straight wins now and the offense has started to come back to life while the defense has quietly held the last three opponents to 17 points or less. Brees is throwing better and Reggie Bush has accepted that he must be the man this year and not just an adjunct to McAllister. As poorly as the Saints year began, they are still only two games out of lead in the NFC South. It won't be easy to even end up .500 this year but at least they are headed in the right direction finally.

Quarterback: After a horrible opening month of football for Drew Brees, he comes off his second straight game with two scores and around 230 passing yards. He only had one interception over those two weeks after throwing nine in the first four weeks. Brees hasn't even been sacked since week three so the offense is coming together again including the offensive line.

Brees only threw for 186 yards and one score against the 49ers last year. 136 of those yards went to Reggie Bush during the blowout win.

Running Backs: Reggie Bush still hasn't turned into a very productive running back but he is sticking with 17 or more carries each week with McAllister gone for the year. He scored on a pass play against the Falcons and showed surprising drive to get into the endzone. Pierre Thomas only had two carries in that game but gained 28 yards and scored once. For a team looking to replace McAllister and with no other suitable options, Thomas is definitely worth a watch if not adding to your roster in case he does develop well. Expecting Bush to carry the ball 17 or more times each week is begging for another injury to the running backs.

Bush ran for just 37 yards on ten carries but scored three times and gained 136 yards on 9 catches against the 49ers last season. McAllister ran for 136 yards on 26 carries in that game.

Wide Receivers: While Brees is connecting with his receivers better these last couple of weeks, he hasn't been favoring one over another. Marques Colston has only caught eight passes for 78 yards over the last three games though he scored once against the Seahawks. David Patten turned in 113 yards on eight catches in Seattle but only provided two receptions for 29 yards last week against the Falcons. Lance Moore remains often used and rarely productive while Devery Henderson scored last week on his only catch and had no receptions in Seattle. To the benefit of the passing game, Brees is spreading the ball around and making it tougher for the secondary to know who to cover. Unfortunately, that makes this entire crew too inconsistent to be a fantasy starter.

Tight Ends: Eric Johnson has been a contributor as well with at least a couple of catches each week and as high as five receptions in most games but his yardage is typically low and he has only one score on the season.

Match Against the Defense: The story behind the rankings for the 49ers offense is that they are getting progressively worse each week. After starting well, they have now given up two games over 100 rushing yards and most teams manage at least 80 yards with their running back and find success passing to them. Look for Bush to have a moderate rushing yardage here and likely not score though he will be a factor as a receiver.

Brees faces a secondary that can give up a couple of scores per game though most settle for just one. Expect decent yardage though likely not a big game that has touchdowns going to Johnson and Colston most likely. CB Nate Clements on the other side should keep the flankers from doing much though the Saints could go to four wide and then any of the wideouts could score.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 24 16 17 17 32 28
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 12 17 8 22 28 31


San Francisco 49ers (2-4)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARI 20-17 -3.5 45
2 @STL 17-16 +3 44
3 @PIT 16-37 +9 35.5
4 SEA 3-23 +1.5 40.5
5 BAL 7-9 +3.5 34.5
6 BYE - - -
7 @NYG 6-33 +9.5 40
8 NO   +2.5 40
9 @ATL 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 @SEA 12-Nov MON 8:30 PM
11 STL 18-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
12 @ARI 25-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
13 @CAR 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 MIN 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 CIN 15-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
16 TB 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 @CLE 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
SFO vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith     180,1
RB Frank Gore 70 10  
TE Vernon Davis   40  
WR Darrell Jackson   20  
WR Arnaz Battle   60,1  
WR Ashley Lelie   40  
PK Joe Nedney 3 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The 49ers offense has been getting worse almost every week and even Frank Gore has been publicly calling out the new offensive coordinator Jim Hostler. The offense has posted only two touchdowns during the four game losing streak and Frank Gore is facing ten man fronts because the 49ers' passing attack ranks as one of the worse in the league. This week Alex Smith is slated to return but that won't upgrade the rushing or blocking... or passing for that matter.

Quarterback: Perhaps the quarterbacking for the 49ers is more programmed failure than dependent on individual talent. Consider the first three games had Alex Smith throw for 126, 126 and 209 yards. Then Trent Dilfer took the start and in three games he threw for 128, 126 and 209 yards. That's amazing consistency. It must be time for a 127 yard passing effort this week no matter who plays. But Smith is expected to return because he only had one touchdown against the three that Dilfer threw. At least it will take Smith some time to match the two fumbles, five interceptions and 14 sacks by Dilfer in the last three games. Maybe.

Smith threw for 171 yards and one score against the Saints last year and had three interceptions.

Running Backs: Frank Gore suffered a sprained ankle last week and is considered "day-to-day" though he returned to play on Sunday and ended with his best game of the year - 14 carries for 88 yards. Like Brown in Miami, Gore is the only working link in this offense though less productive than Brown was. Gore is frustrated at the play calling of first-year OC Jim Hostler and openly speculated that the offense worked when it had a veteran Norv Turner but that the team does not trust Hostler. So you have an unhappy and unproductive Gore who has a gimpy ankle this week. I will project for him to start and not be limited but will update as needed.

Gore only gained 40 yards on 13 carries against the Saints last year.

Wide Receivers: Arnaz Battle has scored in each of the last two games but still cannot get past 60 yards in any game and more typically hangs around 30 yards most weeks. Darrell Jackson also scored last week but he had back-to-back games of two catches for six yards the last two games. The return of Smith is unlikely to ignite anything here other than the hopes and dreams of 49ers fans.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis finally returned after a three game layoff and turned in four catches for 22 yards last week against the Giants. His supposed breakout season so far has posted just 12 catches for 105 yards over four games played.

Match Against the Defense: Gore could be gimpy this week and he goes against a team with a decent rush defense. Look for moderate rushing yardage, no scores and more grumbling about " the way we were".

Smith returns at a good time to face a soft secondary but nothing in his three games this year says he will do much with the opportunity. Even last year in a game with Turner as the OC he only had 170 yards and one score. That seems about right and let's be serious - any touchdown is an accomplishment for this offense over the last month. Two scores would be huge - but unlikely.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 31 26 28 30 31 30
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 27 9 31 9 25 10

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
On Bye

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