The Huddle on Facebook Facebook   The Huddle on Twitter Twitter   The Huddle Mobile Mobile Welcome, GuestJOINHELP


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

Prediction: DEN 24, HOU 20

The Broncos come off their biggest win of the year but are only 2-4 on the road. The Texans pulled out a win over the visiting Buccaneers on Sunday and are 4-2 at home and plan to use the powerful duo of Echemandu and Walker for running backs. This is the Thursday night game between Shanahan and his old student Gary Kubiak so there will still be at least some inside knowledge for the Texans to use. But Denver has been on again, off again all season and it all depends on which team shows up this week.

Denver Broncos (6-7)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BUF 15-14 -3.5 37
2 OAK 23-20 -10 37.5
3 JAC 14-23 -3 35.5
4 @IND 20-38 +10 46.5
5 SD 3-41 +1 43
6 BYE - - -
7 PIT 31-28 +3.5 38.5
8 GB 13-19 -3 44
9 @DET 7-44 +3 45.5
10 @KC 27-11 +3 37.5
11 TEN 34-20 -2.5 38
12 @CHI 34-37 +2.5 41
13 @OAK 20-34 -3 41.5
14 KC 41-7 -6.5 37.5
15 @HOU   +1.5 47
16 @SD 24-Dec MON 8:00 PM
17 MIN 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
DEN at HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     220,1
RB Travis Henry 60,2 10  
RB Selvin Young 90 30  
TE Tony Scheffler   50,1  
WR Glenn Martinez   40  
WR Brandon Stokley   30  
WR Brandon Marshall   60  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Broncos have not been officially ruled out of the post season yet but at 6-7, their only hope is to win this week and then somehow take down the Chargers in San Diego in week 16 and hold off the Vikes rushing game in week 17. That's a tall order and even then it relies on the Chargers losing two of their last three games. But this is a short week and that simplifies game plans which should benefit the more talented Broncos. Sure Kubiak was in Denver for many years, but the offense he ran has vastly changed since 2005.

Quarterback: Jay Cutler comes off his first career four touchdown game when he passed for 244 yards against the Chiefs But the problem here is that Cutler remains talented and yet still inconsistent. He struggled on the road in Oakland in week 13 and has been much more effective in Denver than on the road. Over seven home games, Cutler threw 12 touchdowns and in six road games, he only had five scores. However, both of his 300+ yard games did come away from Denver (BUF and CHI).

Running Backs: Travis Henry has hardly been impressive in his two games back with only 25 carries for 73 yards but he did score three times as the goal line option for the Broncos. Selvin Young has been the far more productive runner and comes off his career best of 156 yards on 17 carries last Sunday. Henry still is not 100% healed from his knee and Young has been highly effective in every opportunity given to him. The Broncos will continue with the split backfield if only because it has worked so well. Young has been a shifty runner but only has one score on the year.

Wide Receivers: Javon Walker's return has not been successful and after only recording one catch in Oakland, the Broncos elected to make him inactive last week. Until he is clearly healthy again, Glenn Martinez is the better option for this offense. Brandon Stokley scored once last week but went into the game with a bad knee and only had the one catch and was held out much of the second half. Stokley is expected to play on Thursday but doesn't have much time to get healthier.

Fortunately for the Broncos, all that doesn't matter as much since Brandon Marshall has been so productive lately. He comes off a career best ten catches for 115 yards and two scores against the Chiefs and has been the clear top wideout since midseason. He has scored four times over the last four games and been consistently turning in around 80 yards or more in most games. Marshall appeared to injure his shoulder late in the game last Sunday but nothing has been said about it for this week. I am assuming he is fine but check the injury report late Wednesday to confirm that.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler has been quiet these last two weeks but is still a favorite of Cutler's and could be called on more this week with Stokley ailing and Walker potentially out again. He has a season high of five catches for 82 yards just three weeks ago on the road in Chicago.

Match Against the Defense: The Texans have been weak against the run which plays right into the strength of the Broncos. A short week and a simplified game plan also favors the run so expect Henry and Young to combine for a nice showing this week with at least one rushing score and likely two. The run keeps the Houston offense off the field as well, so Shanahan will cram the rush down the throats of the Texans who have been marginally able to limit any opponent from running.

Cutler faces a secondary that is about average but Walker and Stokley are ailing and even Marshall could be a question mark this week. Almost all opponents pass for at least one score and I like the connection with Scheffler this week against a team that has not fared well against the few decent tight ends that they have faced this year. Gates had 92 yards and two scores for example.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 13 13 14 11 14 17
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 13 27 12 23 26 18


Houston Texans (6-7)
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 28-14 -1 40.5
15 DEN   -1.5 47
16 @IND 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 JAC 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
HOU vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Sage Rosenfels     250,2
RB Ron Dayne 50    
RB Darius Walker 60 40  
TE Owen Daniels   60,1  
WR Andre Johnson   80,1  
WR Andre Davis   40  
WR Kevin Walter   20  
PK Kris Brown 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Texans pulled out a win last week in the battle between second string quarterbacks but the schedule is not getting any kinder and Rosenfels remains the starter. After this week, a road trip to Indy is followed by a home stand against the Jaguars. The Texans have a shot in this week's game but are almost certain of a losing season for 2007. The rushing game has fallen to pieces with little relief in site and has to be a major consideration for either a free agent move or a first round pick next spring.

Quarterback: Sage Rosenfels has proven to be a very qualified second string quarterback who has thrown for at least one score in every start this year and comes off a three touchdown effort against the Buccaneers. He remains the starter again this week and will be challenged by the best secondary he has faced to date. Rosenfels has settled around 190 passing yards over his last four starts.

Running Backs: Ahman Green is out of the picture and Ron Dayne is still nursing a sore ankle that limited him to only seven carries for 17 yards last week. The Notre Dame rookie Darius Walker was called in and ran for 46 yards on 16 carries in his first NFL action. With a short week to heal, expect Dayne to share with Walker again this week with a chance that Walker could again get the majority of carries. Dayne is not a lock to play this week despite the nice opportunity that the Broncos usually afford opposing runners.

Wide Receivers: While Rosenfels hasn't been a boon for all receivers here, at least Andre Johnson continues to shine with nine catches and a score in each of the last two weeks and only one of his six games this year not producing a touchdown. Johnson remains the main threat here no matter which quarterback starts. Kevin Walter has scored in two of the last three games but his yardage has taken a major tumble since Johnson returned. He has not been above 65 yards in a game since week eight. Andre Davis continues to play the slot but has been limited to one catch in both the most recent games and has lost all fantasy value.

Tight Ends: While Owen Daniels yardage has taken a hit lately, he still is always good for at least 20 or 30 yards with the potential for much more. He has also scored twice in the last three weeks and has been a solid, if unspectacular, fantasy tight end all season.

Match Against the Defense: The matchup here is where the problem lies. Denver is very soft against the run but the Texans are fresh out of decent runners unless Darius Walker can show up big this week. But Dayne will be present as well so expect only moderate yardage from the split and likely no rushing score. The opportunity is there but the Texans do not have the personnel to take advantage of it.

The Broncos feature two top cornerbacks and unless they move them around, Champ Bailey will match on Kevin Walter and shut him down. Andre Johnson should draw Dre Bly for a better matchup but one that should result in slightly lower numbers for Johnson who will also be moved around to gain more favorable conditions. I like Rosenfels to throw for two scores here - one to Johnson as the heavily used primary and the other to Owen Daniels who has been scoring better lately and now goes against the worst ranked defense against tight ends.

Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 10 25 9 10 10 11
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 26 18 6 32 24 27

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Other Features

Fantasy Statistics
Training Room
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Tunnel Vision
a d v e r t i s e m e n t