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

Prediction: NE 27, NYG 10

Here's the one. The final step to a 16-0 perfect season and a chance to get the Patriots into the record books for something new. Just to make this even more surreal, the Giants have nothing to win this week having secured the #5 seed and they are likely to rest players. And once the win looks certain - will the Pats rest theirs? The Giants already are without Jeremy Shockey so this game is just a mess and yet could go down in history. HC Tom Coughlin has said all the right things about "wanting to win" and yet also that he realized he doesn't need to get anyone injured trying to beat a team that no one has.

My personal take which no NFL coach has ever cared about - the Giants should apply themselves 100% to winning this game. They could go down in history as the team that stopped the Patriots. Otherwise, all they do is tank this week and then lose either next week or in Green Bay. No one remembers that. Every one would remember them beating the Pats. Hang your hat on something bigger than a wild card game and gain some league-wide respect.

But they won't.

New England Patriots (15-0)
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 -7.5 54
5 CLE 34-17 -15.5 48
6 @DAL 48-27 -5 52.5
7 @MIA 49-28 -17 51
8 WAS 52-7 -16 48
9 @IND 24-20 -5.5 56.5
10 BYE - - -
11 @BUF 56-10 -15.5 46.5
12 PHI 31-28 -22.5 50.5
13 @BAL 27-24 -20.5 51.5
14 PIT 34-13 -10.5 51
15 NYJ 20-10 -24.5 50.5
16 MIA 28-7 -22.5 43.5
17 @NYG   -14.5 44.5
NEP at NYG Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     270,3
RB Laurence Maroney 70    
WR Randy Moss   100,2  
WR Donte Stallworth   30  
WR Jabar Gaffney   50,1  
WR Wes Welker   60  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: We all knew it would get to this point and the NFL channel had the tremendous luck to land this one as their lone Saturday offering. This is what all those weekly poundings that opponents received were all about. The Pats have not been nearly as good in these cold weather games but still plenty good enough. There's a number of individual records still out there in reach and winning this week is bigger than the Superbowl. They will be only the second team ever to navigate a season without a loss and the only one that did it in a 16 game season. They have a week off to rest - everyone plays until the outcome is far beyond any doubt.

Quarterback: Tom Brady already safely leads the league with 4450 passing yards and 48 TDs and could stop now and remain in first place. But he is only one touchdown short of Peyton Manning's single season record of 49 and two scores short of all-time greatest season. That seems a slam-dunk this week and a chance to bury it a little farther if he manages three scores. Then again, too high and he may not break it again next year.

Running Backs: Laurence Maroney comes off a career best game of 156 yard rushing yards on just 14 carries against the Dolphins and he scored once. In these bad weather games the last two weeks, Maroney has finally showed up as the top runner the Pats needed when the going gets rough, cold, wet and windy. He has topped 100 yards and scored in both games. He had two consecutive runs cover 50 yards or more last week. He could be rested if the game gets out of reach but then again, he only needed 14 carries last week.

Wide Receivers: Wes Welker is #2 in the NFL with 101 catches on the year and he is only two receptions behind T.J. Houshmandzadeh who will already know what he needs to be the leader again. Welker has been fairly quiet in the bad weather games with only eight catches for 79 yards and no scores over these last two weeks.

Randy Moss is another with a chance at greatness since he has 21 touchdowns on the season - just one short of Jerry Rice's record and two short of owning it by himself. He has 1393 yards this year which is second only to Reggie Wayne with 1423 yards. So a big game here could secure the yardage record this year with Moss since Wayne is unlikely to play much this week in the meaningless game against the Titans.

Tight Ends: Benjamin Watson and Kyle Brady were both inactive for Sunday's win over Miami. Watson has now missed two straight games with the injury, while Brady missed his first game of the year. I am not projecting for either since it would be reasonable to give them a light game if they can even play. Plus the Pats won't need them anyway.

Match Against the Defense: This all depends on how motivated the Giants are and if they rest players which they will to some degree. This is all high speculation given that the Giants do not care and want to remain healthy for the playoffs that start for them next week. My projections consider that the Pats want to win, have a couple of records worth setting and the Giants just want this over.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 1 12 1 13 2 3
Preventing Fantasy Points NYG 17 12 16 22 10 22


New York Giants (10-5)
Homefield: Giants Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @DAL 35-45 +5.5 44
2 GB 13-35 -2.5 38.5
3 @WAS 24-17 +3.5 40.5
4 PHI 16-3 +2.5 47
5 NYJ 35-24 -3 41
6 @ATL 31-10 -3 43.5
7 SF 33-15 -9.5 40
8 @MIA 13-10 -9.5 48
9 BYE - - -
10 DAL 20-31 +1.5 49
11 @DET 16-10 -2.5 49.5
12 MIN 17-41 -7 41
13 @CHI 21-16 -1.5 43
14 @PHI 16-13 +3 42.5
15 WAS 16-22 -4.5 40
16 @BUF 38-21 -3 34.5
17 NE   +14.5 44
NYG vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning     160,1
RB Brandon Jacobs 60 10  
RB Reuben Droughns 40 20  
TE Kevin Boss   10  
WR Plaxico Burress   40  
WR Amani Toomer   50  
WR Steve Smith   20,1  
PK Lawrence Tynes 1 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Giants secured their wildcard ticket last week and there is nothing left to play for in this game. The rushing game with Brandon Jacobs has been great in the last two games but the problem here is that Manning continues to struggle and now Jeremy Shockey is gone - both as a receiver and a blocker. The Giants likely do not have the firepower no to challenge the Patriots so it hurts less when they lose a game they clearly were not trying to win. This game is hard to call only in the sense of how easy the Giants make it on the Patriots. Could end up pretty easy but HC Tom Coughlin is on a hot seat of sorts and just letting the Patriots walk all over them followed by a loss next week could be a major problem for him.

Quarterback: The Giants made the playoffs and even won big last week but neither has a lot to do with Eli Manning. He has not passed for more than one score since week seven and not topped 219 passing yards in a month. Worse yet his completions have been on the wane and his errors on the rise. Manning is unfortunately following the trends of the past by starting the season well and then struggling in the later half of the season. No doubt he will not play a full game this week either.

Running Backs: Brandon Jacobs has been on a roll with his best two games of the year happening just in the last two weeks. He rushed for 130 yards against the Redskins and then gained 145 yards and two scores in Buffalo. He also turned his ankle but that is not considered to be a problem for this week. But keeping him healthy is likely a big consideration this week which should see Reuben Droughns get more playing time. Jacobs is now the primary weapon for the Giants and keeping him healthy is paramount to the Giants having a chance in later games.

Wide Receivers: Plaxico Burress is winding down the regular season with either a big game of 90+ yards and a score (twice) or barely 40 yards (seven times). His ankle seems to get worse in cold weather and he seems likely to get some rest this week if only to avoid him overworking his ankle. WIth Shockey gone, Burress now stands alone as the primary focus of the secondary. Amani Toomer comes off a 99 yard effort in Buffalo as a season high, but that followed a game without any catches. He's unreliable at best and invisible at worst. Sinorice Moss was held out last week because of a bad back so it is likely he will not play again this week.

Tight Ends: Now that Shockey is gone, the rookie Kevin Boss takes over as starter with some help by Michael Matthews but neither even had a pass thrown to them last week.

Match Against the Defense: As will be happening in most games this week, the roles of the players and their time on the field will be up to coaches and game situations. The Giants likely could not challenge the Patriots if they were at full strength and need to get players healthy as possible for the first playoff game. But they cannot outright get blown out because that would make Coughlin and the Giants look bad. So I expect half game efforts here before giving up and heading to the sidelines.

Gaining Fantasy Points NYG 16 7 18 12 19 9
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 11 10 4 14 2 1

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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