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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: SEA 16, BUF 20

Here's one of those match-ups that seem odd. These two teams have met only once in the last seven years and that was four seasons ago. The Seahawks come off a 10-6 season and hope to squeeze at least one more divisional title in before the Cardinals, 49ers or Rams stop being league doormats. The Bills have the opposite problem with the Patriots in the same division but look to improving to a winning record this year after a 7-9 finish in 2007 that ended with three consecutive losses. This game could go either way since the Seahawks are no great road team and yet the Bills have their own challenges.

Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
Homefield: Qwest Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BUF - +1 39
2 SF - - -
3 STL - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 @NYG - - -
6 GB - - -
7 @TB - - -
8 @SF - - -
9 PHI - - -
10 @MIA - - -
11 ARZ - - -
12 WAS - - -
13 @DAL - - -
14 NE - - -
15 @STL - - -
16 NYJ - - -
17 @ARZ - - -
SEA at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Hasselbeck     230,1
RB Julius Jones 60 10  
RB Maurice Morris 40 30  
TE John Carlson   30  
WR Logan Payne   20  
WR Courtney Taylor   50  
WR Nate Burleson   60,1  
PK Olindo Mare 3 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: This is to be Mike Holmgren's swan song in Seattle. Playing in the always soft NFC West has assured the Seahawks of a trip to the playoffs but over the years the dynamics have changed. Shaun Alexander has gone from being the record holder for rushing touchdowns to being the free agent no one wants in only a few years. The offense has never featured a shakier looking rushing or passing game but the defense should be key to most the wins this year. After this week, two home games against the 49ers and Rams should produce wins before their week four bye. And then the season actually begins for the Seahawks.

Quarterback: Funny thing about the rushing game getting a lot worse. It tends to make for more passing. Matt Hasselbeck comes off career marks in attempts and completions (562-352), yardage (3966) and even passing scores (28). All without any apparent solid #1 threat. That is fortunate since that is exactly what he will be getting this year with Deion Branch on the mend and Bobby Engram out for a few weeks with a bad shoulder. The west coast offense likes to spread the ball around and that is exactly what Hasselbeck will need to do.

Running Backs: The "not Shaun" era has started in Seattle and maybe a year or two too late. Julius Jones comes over from the Cowboys in part because his career best game happened in Seattle a few years ago. Maurice Morris remains a big part of this committee and while Holmgren has never liked to use multiple players, that is exactly what he needs to do. What week one will show is that Jones and Morris will share duty and how much - if any - that T.J. Duckett may figure in.

Wide Receivers: This is where the mess begins. Deion Branch was not placed on the PUP list so he can come back at any time. He was rumored to potentially play this week but he comes off ACL surgery and even when he initially does play he won't likely be very effective. Bobby Engram was the savior last year but has a shoulder injury that should keep him out at least a few weeks and potentially a month or more. Nate Burleson has every opportunity to step up though he's been slow to do so. Now Courtney Taylor gets a shot at playing time while the depth chart mends. It is a mess and will be so until the players all return or just end up on IR.

Tight Ends: The good news is that the Seahawks drafted receiving tight end John Carlson who lands in a situation where he could become of the rare rookie tight end success stories. At the very least, he should post at least "fantasy back-up" sort of numbers and be a player to watch for next year.

Match Against the Defense: The Bills already had a decent defense before getting DE Marcus Stroud and LB Kawicka Mitchell in the offseason. This should be an even better defense now playing at home in a game they have had plenty of time to prepare for. The Seahawks were only 3-5 on the road last year and now have a committee backfield and a rather motley crew of wideouts for now. Expect Hasselbeck to make this into a game but he'll use everyone just a little to get there.

Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 7 20 5 29 6 5
Preventing Fantasy Points BUF 15 27 22 11 17 6
Rank Advantage (-31 to 31) SEA 8 7 17 -18 11 1

Buffalo Bills (0-0)
Homefield: Ralph Wilson Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SEA - -1 39
2 @JAX - - -
3 OAK - - -
4 @STL - - -
5 @ARZ - - -
6 BYE - - -
7 SD - - -
8 @MIA - - -
9 NYJ - - -
10 @NE - - -
11 CLE - - -
12 @KC - - -
13 SF - - -
14 MIA - - -
15 @NYJ - - -
16 @DEN - - -
17 NE - - -
BUF vs SEA Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Edwards     180,1
RB Marshawn Lynch 100,1 20  
TE Robert Royal   10,1  
WR Lee Evans   70  
WR Josh Reed   30  
WR James Hardy   40  
PK Rian Lindell 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Bills are turning to a power rushing scheme under first year offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and that favors both Marshawn Lynch and an improving Bills defense. Trent Edwards won the starting job from J.P. Losman and should be improving as he enters his second season. There is a reason for Bills fans to feel optimistic about 2008 with a defense that should be no less than solid and that could be spectacular. Lynch also enters his second season after already notching his first 1000 yard season. The Bills enjoy one of the lightest schedules in the league which should be a huge help in making this team look more polished in 2008.

Quarterback: The Bills were forced to use Trent Edwards early last year, then gave the job back to J.P. Losman when he was healthy again before opting to go back to Edwards for the final five weeks of the season. Edwards was predictably inconsistent but has flashes of good play that earned him the start this year. While the Bills have been nothing more than Lee Evans for receivers in recent seasons, they drafted James Hardy to provide a very tall, appealing target over the middle for Edwards. This should be an improved year for Edwards, but only incrementally since the rushing game should be center stage in most games.

Running Backs: Marshawn Lynch comes off a great rookie season where he rushed for 1115 yards and seven scores and added only 18 catches for 184 yards. This year Lynch gets one of the softest rushing schedules in the NFL and is slated to be more used as a receiver. He is the perfect player for the power rushing offense that will look even better than he really is because of his soft schedule.

Wide Receivers: Lee Evans has never had a complement in this offense that would give any reason for the defense to not blanket him with defenders. Now James Hardy comes on board and he should provide the perfect addition to this passing attack. Evans is fast and great in open field but is not as well suited for possession work over the middle. In steps Hardy who stands 6'5" and makes the perfect target over the middle. That may take more than just this season to come to fruition, but Hardy is a definite step in the right direction.

The Bills ranked 32nd in touchdown passes (6) to wide receivers last year. There is no where to go but up.

Tight Ends: The only part worse than the Bills ranking just 25th in tight end yardage last year is that they used six different tight ends to get there. Robert Royal is the primary but that didn't count for more than three scores and 248 yards last year.

Match Against the Defense: Seattle has been below average at stopping the run and this game should largely be defensive and rushing oriented so sheer volume should get a decent showing from Lynch. They allowed nine different runners to score in road games as well so figure Lynch to be the safest fantasy start on this team.

Look for mediocre passing numbers from Edwards while the Bills mostly try to hang onto a win. He has a decent chance at one passing score but anything more would be a surprise. That could favor any receiver to be sure but I'll give it to Royal purely on a hunch.

Gaining Fantasy Points BUF 32 23 29 21 28 17
Preventing Fantasy Points SEA 6 22 14 13 8 4
Rank Advantage (-31 to 31) BUF -26 -1 -15 -8 -20 -13

The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late


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