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

Prediction: TBB 24, SFO 13

Update: Both Frank Gore and Arnaz Battle have been limited in practice but both are expected to play against the Bucs this week. This is no different than what Gore has been doing in recent weeks. HC Jon Gruden has reiterated that he does not intend on resting any players and that they still want to end up with the #3 seed.

The Buccaneers have wrapped up the NFC South and the only thing left is to pretend there is a difference between the #3 and #4 seed in the NFC. The Bucs are only 3-4 on the road but the 49ers are just 2-5 at home and are coming off a win over the Bengals to help depress the value of that draft pick the Patriots are holding. Hard to imagine that the 49ers can start a winning streak with only one win in the last 12 games but the Bucs won't be overly motivated to win this game. But never underestimate the delight a player like Garcia would have in beating his old team in his old stadium.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5)
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 14-28 +1 40.5
15 ATL 37-3 -10 39
16 @SF   -7 37.5
17 CAR 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
TBB at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia     220,2
RB Earnest Graham 90,1 40  
TE Alex Smith   20,1  
WR Joey Galloway   80,1  
WR Ike Hilliard   40  
WR Maurice Stovall   20  
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: Last week proved to be a cakewalk over the Falcons and the final two games shouldn't be much harder in San Francisco and then at home against the Panthers. The only problem now is if the Buccaneers consider resting players during the last two weeks but that could result in having to play in Dallas instead of Green Bay. But even that situation is not clear, so the Bucs will look to win but not over exert themselves trying.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia returned to the lineup Sunday after missing two games with a lower back contusion but he only passed for 109 yards and one score because the Falcons had already lost before the first kickoff. Garcia's back should not be an issue but there is no reason to expect he will play any more than he has in recent weeks where he typically passes for one score and around 180 yards and lets the rushing game and defense take care of the details.

Running Backs: Earnest Graham scored a touchdown in his sixth straight game and set a club record. He already has 10 touchdowns which is the third-most in team history despite not becoming a starter until week five. He's always good for at least 70 rushing yards per week and is also a nice factor as a receiver as well. He has averaged six catches for 40 yards over the last three games and has turned in over 100 total yards in five of the last six games.

Last week in the blowout, Michael Bennett rushed for 63 yards one nine carries and even Michael Pittman had 50 yards on 13 runs. That sort of sharing could continue as a means to keep Graham fresh for the playoffs.

Wide Receivers: While Joey Galloway had only one catch in the laugher last week, he has been a big factor in most of the games this year and has six scores and three 100 yard games to his credit. Unless the 49er defense really shows up big this week, Galloway will tend more towards his normal level of production around 80 yards. No other wideout here has been reliable for more than 30 yards in a game and there is no fantasy value outside of Galloway.

Tight Ends: Minimal fantasy value here though the tight ends have accounted for six scores this year but those have been among three different players and the starter Alex Smith rarely has more than two in consequential catches in a game.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers defense has been below average in every game this year and are really worse than that considering most teams do not put forth a big effort knowing that they can win the game anyway. Add in the 49ers having problems with field position and you can expect Graham to score at least once this week and have no less than good yardage. He could have a really big game but more than likely the team will opt to use Bennett or Pittman more in the later stages of this contest.

Garcia will manage this game but should throw for at least one score- he always does and the 49ers have been allowing as much in most games. That has to favor a wideout or a tight end but only Galloway can be considered as a reliable risk. Garcia may want to have a little more fun since it is against his old team though.

Gaining Fantasy Points TB 19 6 20 18 15 11
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 19 19 25 17 26 32


San Francisco 49ers (4-10)
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 10-31 +2.5 40
9 @ATL 16-20 +3 37
10 @SEA 0-24 +10 39.5
11 STL 9-13 +2.5 41
12 @ARI 37-31 +10 38
13 @CAR 14-31 +3 35.5
14 MIN 7-27 +7.5 39
15 CIN 20-13 +8.5 43
16 TB   +7 37.5
17 @CLE 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
SFO vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Shaun Hill     200,1
RB Frank Gore 60 50,1  
TE Vernon Davis   30  
WR Darrell Jackson   40  
WR Arnaz Battle   60  
WR Jason Hill   10  
PK Joe Nedney 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The win over the Bengals was huge since it proved that the 49ers could beat a team that was out of their own division and it will do much to have the team end 2007 with more than just one win over the last 14 games. Shaun Hill was surprisingly effective and a passing game opened up the rushing lanes for Frank Gore to finally rekindle 2006 just in time to benefit the few fantasy owners that reached their playoffs usually despite what Gore had done this year. But it was just one win at home against a terrible defense and a team that was clearly playing flat this week. If nothing else, it helps the sting from trading away their #1 pick in the 2008 NFL draft.

Quarterback: After waiting around for six years, Shaun Hill finally got a chance to start and pulled off an upset over the Bengals. He was definitely effective completing 22 of 27 passes for 181 yards and one score against the Vikings and then turning in 21 of 28 for 197 yards and one score last Saturday. But more than anything, that was against the visiting Bengals and was one of the lowest performances they have allowed this season. But by comparison to Alex Smith and Trent Dilfer, it looked like the next coming of Joe Montana. To his credit, Hill was able to do the one thing that no other 49er quarterback had done - hook up well with free agent acquisition Darrell Jackson.

Running Backs: Thanks in part to the effective passing game and the fact that the Bengals were in town, Frank Gore turned in his season best game on Saturday when he gained 138 yards on 29 carries and looked very much like the Gore of 2006 (including not scoring a touchdown). He had only topped 100 yards in one other game this year and has scored in just three games. And he has otherwise been consistent around 60 rushing yards per week. The big difference in the win over the Bengals was that he was given 29 opportunities to run the ball. He rarely had more than 16 runs in any game this year.

Wide Receivers: The passing game took a new look last week when Hill connected with the two players that the 49ers have been waiting on all season. Besides tight end Vernon Davis, Darrell Jackson caught eight passes for 86 yards - that's more than twice as many yards and catches as he had in the nine previous games. He still has only one touchdown this year.

Arnaz Battle only managed two catches for 23 yards and ended his three game scoring streak. Battle had been solid around 50 yards in most games this year but the effective rushing game and Jackson finally showing up made Battle an option that the 49ers did not need to use last week.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis comes off a five catch, 46 yard effort against the Bengals with a touchdown catch - only his second of the year. The last two weeks with Hill playing has resulted in almost identical five catch for 45 yard efforts.

Match Against the Defense: Gore faces a rushing defense that is above average and the ranking below reflects how most opponents of the Bucs use running backs as receivers since none have scored a rushing touchdown since week nine and yet the Bucs routinely give up 30+ receiving yards to opposing primary backs. Look for a decent showing here by Gore in total yardage but likely no score.

Hill has been impressive - no doubt - but then again MIN and CIN have terrible secondaries and the Bucs are rated #1 against quarterbacks and #2 against both tight ends and wide receivers. Don't expect more than one passing score here and that could very well end up with Gore anyway. Ronde Barber should be able to handle Jackson this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 30 27 31 16 32 32
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 1 17 2 2 4 7

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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