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

Prediction: NEP 24, NYJ 17

Update: The first non-Brady game for the Patriots may be without Ben Watson who was held out of practice for two days and only had limited participation on Friday. Jabar Gaffney is also listed as questionable with a sore knee and was limited all week in practice but is expected to play. And Moss took it easy early in the week to rest his back but he is expected to play without limitation and had a full practice on Friday. There does not appear to be any need to change the Patriots projections.

The Jets will go with Jay Feely since Mike Nugent remains out with his thigh injury. Laveranues Coles remains listed as questionable and has been limited in practice this week but is expected to play as he did last week.

What a spin on this game. This is the exact same venue as the season opener last year and the infamous "Spy-Gate" game where the Pats won 38-14 while taping sidelines. The Pats later won 20-10 as well later at home during a bad storm. This game? No Brady and look who is favored this time around...

New England Patriots (1-0)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 KC 17-10 -16.5 45
2 @NYJ - +1.5 39
3 MIA - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 @SF - - -
6 @SD - - -
7 DEN - - -
8 STL - - -
9 @IND - - -
10 BUF - - -
11 NYJ - - -
12 @MIA - - -
13 PIT - - -
14 @SEA - - -
15 @OAK - - -
16 ARZ - - -
17 @BUF - - -
NEP at NYJ Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassell     250,2
RB Laurence Maroney 60,1    
RB Sammy Morris 50 30  
TE Dave Thomas   20  
WR Randy Moss   80,1  
WR Jabar Gaffney   40  
WR Wes Welker   50,1  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: There was no single player - make that three players - that could be removed from the Patriots and have a bigger impact than Tom Brady. Not only from a production standpoint but from an emotional stance as well. Brady had become the embodiment of the Pats. He played the Jesus to Belichick's God. He was the like the dog to Belichick's corn. The "Stills-Nash-Young" to Belichick's Graham. The... well.. this is all so flustering...

And this is all so interesting. Now the Cover Boy stands on the sidelines and sends text messages to his super hot girlfriend instead of throwing 50 touchdowns in a season. Matt Cassell gets the reins at least for now and where the Patriots go - nobody knows. And what a place to start that new life.

Quarterback: When Matt Cassell stepped in last week, Tom Brady had thrown for 76 yards in the first two series and had just connected with Randy Moss on a 28 yard completion that Moss fumbled away. Over 3+ quarters of play, Cassell completed 13 of 18 for 152 yards and one touchdown. While not a big game, it was encouraging to see him complete 72% of his passes and to connect with Moss and Welker. What happens now for the fourth year quarterback is hard to say, but you can be sure we will all be watching. Brady was obviously very good but at least part of that was that he played in a very good system and that was recently stocked with Moss and Welker. This may not be as bad as feared.

Brady passed for 297 yards and three scores in New York last year but only had 140 yards and no scores in the bad weather game in week 15 at home.

Running Backs: Gotta love it. Laurence Maroney runs 10 times for 51 yards and Sammy Morris gets 10 carries for 53 yards and one touchdown. Lamont Jordan gets a few carries as does Heath Evans. The most significant stat here is that only Sammy Morris had any catches (5-34) and only he had the goal line carry. If you want to rely on that, best of luck. It will not last.

Maroney rushed for 72 yards on 20 carries against the Jets in the away game last season but later had 104 yards and a score on 26 carries in the home game.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss had six catches for 116 yards and a score last week and and three receptions for 64 yards and the touchdown came via Cassell. Wes Welker totaled six receptions for 51 yards and had three catches for 31 yards with Cassell at the helm. Those are not "Brady '07" numbers but maybe Brady '08 wasn't going to be any different. The bottom line here is that Cassell knows the system inside and out and should be able to maintain the ship while Brady mends this year. It is a system and he knows it well.

Moss caught nine passes for 183 yards and a score in the season opener against the Jets last year while Welker had six receptions for 61 yards and a score as well.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson was the standard mystery scratch for the Patriots last week. Dave Thomas (but not the Wendy's guy) filled in with two catches for 24 yards. I'll add Watson back in if he practices this week.

Match Against the Defense: This is not so much about the defense anymore but what will Cassell do? The Jets at home are a better defense and they have to smell blood in the water but this is a statement game by the Pats too. They need to show they are above Brady's injury as a team and the mere fact that the Jets are favored will be a motivating factor for this week. Remember - Cassell has been in his system for four years - Favre only has four weeks in his.

Expect a decent rushing effort here with at least rushing score that could go to any runner. I like Cassell to throw for 240 or so yards and to show the league that the Patriots are not going to fall off the map. I mostly like the motivating factor of Brady's injury this week. The Pats will suffer a letdown in the near future but for this one week - they should persevere.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 14 11 8 25 18 10
Preventing Fantasy Points NYJ 26 7 5 32 2 17

New York Jets (1-0)
Homefield: Giants Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @MIA 20-14 -3 36
2 NE - -1.5 39
3 @SD - - -
4 ARZ - - -
5 BYE - - -
6 CIN - - -
7 @OAK - - -
8 KC - - -
9 @BUF - - -
10 STL - - -
11 @NE - - -
12 @TEN - - -
13 DEN - - -
14 @SF - - -
15 BUF - - -
16 @SEA - - -
17 MIA - - -
NYJ vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre     230,2
RB Thomas Jones 80 20  
TE Chris Baker   20  
WR Laveranues Coles   60,1  
WR Jerricho Cotchery   80,1  
WR Chansi Stuckey   30  
PK Jay Feely 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Never in the history of the NFL has throwing for 194 yards against a team that went 1-15 the previous season been so hailed as the second coming of... well... Brett Favre. The Jets did beat the Dolphins last week but Chad Pennington - the ex-Jet quarterback - actually had more production than "Favre 2.0" but hey - no graphics on that one. The Jets squeaked out a win over the worst team from 2007 and now return home to find themselves favored over the Patriots. If Favre 2.0 ends up winning this game, there will be no end to the gushing of announcers and all transmissions from New York should be severed immediately.

Quarterback: As noted, Brett Favre completed 15 of 22 passes for 194 yards and two scores with one lost fumble and three sacks. His second score was a trademark jumpball pass that landed with Chansi Stuckey. To his credit, Favre has generated more enthusiasm in New York than any recent player, he just needs to generate more than the 17th ranking in pass yardage. Playing the Pats enters Favre into the real AFC East experience.

Pennington was able to pass for 167 yards and two scores when the Patriots visited last year.

Running Backs: Perhaps it was Favre but mostly it was the vastly improved and healthy offensive line, but Thomas Jones started his season with 101 yards on 22 carries and one score. Granted - it was against the Dolphins but it was a road game and far more productive a start than last year saw. Leon Washington continues to offer nothing more than mere relief and only had six carries last week.

Jones only ran for 42 yards on 14 carries when the Pats visited last season.

Wide Receivers: Laveranues Coles caught Favre 2.0's first pass on Sunday but then none for the rest of the game. Jerricho Cotchery made good on the chemistry he had been developing with Favre 2.0 and turned three catches into 80 yards that included a 56-yard touchdown that made the Jets fans all agree that Pennington could not have made that throw.

What was a little troubling was that Favre 2.0 threw ten passes to Coles and Cotchery with only four completions. He still has to get on the same page as his receivers.

Cotchery caught six passes for 57 yards in the season opener last year while Coles had 59 yards on seven receptions with two touchdowns.

Tight Ends: Though Favre 2.0 showed some chemistry with the Dustin Keller, the Jets did not use the rookie and instead rolled out Chris Baker (2-34) and ex-Packer Bubba Franks (2-19). No reliable fantasy value here.

Baker only had 29 yards on two catches against the visiting Pats last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Jets never had much success against the Patriots last year but the new improved offensive line will help and Favre may or may not end up a good thing in this game. Expect a better effort from Thomas Jones this time but likely for him to remain below 100 yards.

Favre faces a secondary that knows the offense better than he does. Expect some moderate to good numbers here along with the obligatory turnovers that could be game changing. While everyone expects the Pats to fall apart, Brady had nothing to do with the defense. Look for one passing score and possibly two with decent yardage.

Gaining Fantasy Points NYJ 11 16 7 16 29 11
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 11 9 18 19 8 23

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