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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: TB 20, HOU 16

Update: Jeff Garcia has been able to practice on a limited basis this week and may end up starting in this game. His playing status will be determined on Friday or later but I am adding him back into the projections. If you intend on using him, make sure he is active for the game because it is not yet certain. There is a chance of course that he does not finish the game even if he starts since a bad back can be easily reaggravated.

Matt Schaub has not practiced and will not play though the team is holding out hope that he may be available in week 15. Ahman Green has also returned for limited practice and could be involved this week thought it would only be in support of Ron Dayne. I am not adding him into the projections because he is not worthy of a start in any league.

The Buccaneers maybe a lock to win the NFC South but they are only 3-3 on the road while the Texans are 3-2 at home. Neither team may have its starting quarterback and this should be a very good game that could go either way depending on the offense of the Texans and the defense of the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-4)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SEA 6-20 +6 41
2 NO 31-14 +3.5 41.5
3 STL 24-3 -4 38.5
4 @CAR 20-7 +3 39
5 @IND 14-33 +9 45
6 TEN 13-10 -2.5 37
7 @DET 16-23 +1.5 43
8 JAC 23-24 +4 32.5
9 ARI 17-10 -3.5 37
10 BYE - - -
11 @ATL 31-7 -3 35
12 WAS 19-13 -3.5 37.5
13 @NO 27-23 +3 42
14 @HOU   +1 40.5
15 ATL 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @SF 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 CAR 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
TBB at HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Luke McCown 20 200,1
QB Jeff Garcia     210,1
RB Earnest Graham 100,1 30  
TE Alex Smith   20  
WR Joey Galloway   90,1  
WR Ike Hilliard   20  
WR Maurice Stovall   20  
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers pulled off a stunning upset of the Saints last week and that was with Luke McCown as starter. With a three game lead over the Panthers and Saints, the Buccaneers are a lock to win the NFC South and yet thanks to Dallas and Green Bay, the meaningless question is if they will be the #3 or #4 seed in the playoffs. This week will be the toughest remaining match-up on the road in Houston but there's nothing wrong with the Tampa Bay defense that gets to face Sage Rosenfels.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia sat out last week with what is described as a back contusion and rumored to be a hairline fracture. Until he practices and is cleared to play, Luke McCown will continue to be the starter and his game last week yielded some optimism when he passed for 313 yards and two touchdowns including two runs for a total of 34 yards. But that was against the Saints and this week will be a much bigger challenge.

Running Backs: Earnest Graham is pouring it on during this lighter stretch of the schedule and has scored in each of the last four games and topped 100 rushing yards in three of them. He even had seven catches for 37 yards in New Orleans and has been a very nice free agent pick-up in fantasy leagues since mid-season. He's become this year's version of the 2007 LaDell Betts.

Wide Receivers: The reality with the Buccaneers is that they have a goldmine in aging Joey Galloway who comes off his season best performance of 159 yards on seven receptions. But - he is the only Buccaneer wide receiver that really matters, particularly since mid-season. Ike Hilliard rarely has more than 50 yards in a game and has scored only once this year while Michael Clayton or Maurice Stovall top out at around one catch per game. There's really no reason to cover anyone besides Galloway in this offense but he still performs. He already scored six times this year while all other wideouts have a total of only two touchdowns. What's just as encouraging is that his high yardage game came with McCown as starter.

Tight Ends: Alex Smith has plodded along with minimal fantasy value but the star of last week was Jerramy Stevens who only caught two passes for eight yards but caught the winning touchdown against the Saints. It was his first game action since week eight.

Match Against the Defense: The Texans have been very soft against the run, particularly in the second half of the season and have allowed nine rushing touchdowns in the last seven games along with five runners topping 100 rushing yards. Expect a good game here by Graham that could end up big.

McCown faces a secondary that has almost always allowed at least one score and two or more in over half the games this year. McCown was very effective last week against the ultra-weak Saints secondary but this Sunday will be tougher. Look for just one receiving score that definitely favors Galloway since the #1 wideout for the opponent has usually scored. This game will be more about running than passing.

Gaining Fantasy Points TB 16 8 20 17 18 22
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 16 26 14 24 30 21


Houston Texans (5-7)
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 KC 20-3 +3 38
2 @CAR 34-21 +6.5 39
3 IND 24-30 + 6 47.5
4 @ATL 16-26 -2.5 39.5
5 MIA 22-19 -5.5 43
6 @JAC 17-37 +7 37
7 TEN 36-38 -2 37.5
8 @SD 10-35 +11 45
9 @OAK 24-17 +3 41.5
10 BYE - - -
11 NO 23-10 +1 47
12 @CLE 17-27 +3.5 51
13 @TEN 20-28 +3.5 43
14 TB   -1 40.5
15 DEN 13-Dec THU 8:15 PM
16 @IND 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 JAC 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
HOU vs TBB Rush Catch Pass
QB Sage Rosenfels     190,1
RB Ron Dayne 70 10  
TE Owen Daniels   50  
WR Andre Johnson   70,1  
WR Andre Davis   40  
WR Kevin Walter   30  
PK Kris Brown 3 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Texans come off a two game road trip with two losses and worse than that, they also lost Matt Schaub to a dislocated shoulder and OG Fred Weary to a broken tibia in his leg and OG Chris White with an MCL injury. Sage Rosenfels was adequate in relief, but depending on Schaub's shoulder, the Texans may be stuck with him for these last four games that all face decent secondaries. The Texans could always pull an upset, but if they lose their final four games it will be no surprise.

Quarterback: An MRI on Matt Schaub's shoulder confirmed the separation and he will miss this week and very possibly the rest of the games. That leaves Sage Rosenfels as the starter and against the Titans he only managed to complete 17 of 30 for 185 yards and one score. The saving grace appears to be that Rosenfels knows how to use Andre Johnson who had 116 yards and the touchdown catch. Facing four tough opponents will mean Rosenfels will have to throw, but how well remains to be seen.

Running Backs: Ahman Green still hasn't played and if he cannot practice again this week, HC Gary Kubiak says he will go on injured reserve. He's been a colossal waste as a free agent pick-up and that money could have been far better spent. Ron Dayne rolled his ankle against the Titans and while he may miss some practices to rest it, early speculation is that he will still play this week and be good to go by Sunday. I will assume Dayne can play without limitation and update as needed. He ran well in Tennessee gaining 86 yards on 18 carries and scoring once. The loss of the two offensive guards will not be a help to the running game though.

Wide Receivers: After a lackluster week 12, Andre Johnson went right back to having a big game with nine catches for 116 yards and a score in Tennessee. Oddly enough, the only time he has not been over 110 yards and scored was against the Browns when Kevin Walter had a good game. Other than that week, Walter has fairly quiet since the return of Johnson. The same for Andre Davis who either catches a long pass or has little yardage.

Tight Ends: Owen Daniels remains reliable for around 30 yards or so each week but only has one score on the year and had three catches for 42 yards with Rosenfels last Sunday.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers have been very good against the run but while few runners have much yardage, several have scored once against them. Dayne may not be 100% though and he just lost a couple of linemen which which will not help. Don't expect anything more from him this week outside of just average yardage.

Rosenfels faces a secondary that is very good and that has held most recent opponents to less than 200 passing yards. Look for a near repeat of last week with moderate yardage and one score as most likely. Another problem is that the Bucs have not allowed a wideout to turn in more than 95 yards in any game this season. Look for another step down from Johnson but a chance he could score once.

Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 12 23 11 9 6 13
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 3 20 4 2 5 3

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
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