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

Prediction: SD 23, DEN 20

Update: LaDainian Tomlinson did not practice this week until Friday but had a full day and his toe is not expected to keep him out this week. His x-rays were negative and he is insistent that it is not a factor even though he is listed as questionable for the game. Antonio Gates was limited in practice until Friday to rest his hip but is expected to play. He is not 100% but wasn't last week when he was the leading receiver for the Chargers. While Tomlinson is a concern, he should be safe to play and I am not going to lower his projections.

The Chargers demolished the Broncos last year, winning 41-3 in Denver and later 23-3 at home. But this matchup has the Broncos at home feeling mighty good about pimp slapping the Raiders last week. The Chargers hit the road still wondering who Dante Rosario is and why no one covered him. The Chargers need this game much more than the Broncos but that doesn't mean it comes easy.

San Diego Chargers (0-1)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 24-26 -9 42
2 @DEN - -1.5 45.5
3 NYJ - - -
4 @OAK - - -
5 @MIA - - -
6 NE - - -
7 @BUF - - -
8 @NO - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 KC - - -
11 @PIT - - -
12 IND - - -
13 ATL - - -
14 OAK - - -
15 @KC - - -
16 @TB - - -
17 DEN - - -
SDC vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     230,1
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 80,1 50  
TE Antonio Gates   70,1  
WR Vincent Jackson   40  
WR Chris Chambers   50  
PK Nate Kaeding 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The loss to the Panthers wasn't an offensive problem - all the notable fantasy stars delivered the goods. But the defense that is now without Shawne Merriman couldn't slow down the run couldn't keep the Panthers from their winning pass as time expired. They recorded no turnovers and only one sack. At home. Against the Panthers who had no Steve Smith. They still came tantalizingly close to winning but the Chargers now enter this week with at least a bit of desperation in them. The Broncos look much improved this year and should prove to be the key to winning the AFC West.

Quarterback: Philip RIvers played well enough to win last week with 217 passing yards and three touchdowns. He had no turnovers and was sacked only once. He even spread his touchdowns out over three receivers. Rivers passed for 270 yards and two scores in Denver last year and later had 189 yards and one score at home.

Running Backs: The week was already scary enough with Tom Brady going down so when LaDainian Tomlinson said he had a toe injury after the game, it sent a shot of fear throughout fantasy football (for his owners that is). But Tomlinson was never listed on any injury report and is expected to practice and play this week. Barring any further information, I will assume that Tomlinson is at full speed this week.

Tomlinson rushed for 67 yards on 21 carries and added 73 yards on just three catches in Denver last year but Michael Turner added 147 yards and a score on just ten rushes in that game. Tomlinson later ran for 107 yards and one score in the home meeting.

Wide Receivers: The Chargers got a touchdown out of both Chris Chambers (1-44) and Vincent Jackson (3-47) last week but threw no passes to any other wideout. Craig Davis was a gametime inactive and is not making progress like the team had hoped.

Chambers had 71 yards and one score in the home meeting with the Broncos. In the Denver game, Vincent Jackson scored once and had three catches for 84 yards.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates played well last week despite his tender toe and had a team high four catches for 61 yards and one score. He also suffered a hip bruise in the game but is expected to play this week without any problems.

Gates caught seven passes for 113 yards and one score in Denver last year.

Match Against the Defense: Last year the Chargers slaughtered the Broncos but coming into this game, the Chargers defense looks surprisingly suspect and the offense is still a step down from last year. This week is critical for the team lest it fall to 0-2 and drop a game behind the Broncos. Tomlinson has always done well against the Broncos even if it required him to be a receiver. Look for his standard good effort but nothing as astronomic as happened last year.

Rivers faces a secondary that has added Dre Bly on the corner against Vincent Jackson. But he comes into the game with four solid options for receivers and always gets at least one passing score against the Broncos. Look for Gates to matter most this week in the passing game and for Tomlinson to turn in higher receiving yards this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 4 20 12 3 16 22
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 21 20 20 14 4 3

Denver Broncos (1-0)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 41-14 -3 41.5
2 SD - -1.5 45.5
3 NO - - -
4 @KC - - -
5 TB - - -
6 JAX - - -
7 @NE - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 MIA - - -
10 @CLE - - -
11 @ATL - - -
12 OAK - - -
13 @NYJ - - -
14 KC - - -
15 @CAR - - -
16 BUF - - -
17 @SD - - -
DEN vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     250,1
RB Andre Hall 40    
RB Selvin Young 30    
RB Michael Pittman 20,1    
RB Some Other Guy 20    
TE Tony Scheffler   40  
WR Eddie Royal   70  
WR Brandon Stokley   30  
WR Brandon Marshall   90,1  
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Nothing quite as pleasing to a Denver fan than starting the year out with an embarrassing smack down of the Raiders. From Eddie Royal having a rookie debut bonanza to Tony Scheffler only catching one pass that went for 72 yards - it all worked in Oakland. And that was without Brandon Marshall who is due back this week. The offense was in midseason form and the defense dominated everything the Raiders tried to do. This week is the key though - a win over the Chargers will be a major step towards the division title and a sign that last year is over.

Quarterback: Last week, Jay Cutler threw for 299 yards and two scores and already had uncanny chemistry with the rookie Eddie Royal. It's almost a shame to see Marshall return when it was so fun to watch Royal trash the Raiders secondary. But if Royal continues to shine... and Cutler resumes his similarly productive ways with Marshall.... this passing attack becomes one of the better ones in the league. But it takes a lot more than one game against the Raiders to make that leap.

Cutler passed for 232 yards against the visiting Chargers last year. He later only had 155 yards in San Diego.

Running Backs: The Broncos are now into such a committee approach in their backfield that Selvin Young (7-36, 1 TD) is the starter but does not get the most carries. That belonged to Andre Hall (10-61) last week. But just to tweak it even more, Michael Pittman had seven carries but only 13 yards - but two runs went for touchdowns. Shanahan laughs in your face for trying to guess each week. This may be the most convoluted season of them all. I will project for all three running backs but we should all know who does what changes rapidly and without notice.

Travis Henry only gained 65 yards on 16 carries against the visiting Broncos last year. In the road meeting, Young only gained 39 yards on ten carries.

Wide Receivers: The Broncos cannot be happier with their second round pick of Eddie Royal who dominated one of the NFL's better secondaries. Royal had nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. He even had two rushes for nine yards. The emergence of Royal and the return of Brandon Marshall clears up what has been a very muddled depth chart for the Broncos this year. Too bad they could not inspire the running backs in that way.

Marshall had seven catches for 72 yards against the Chargers last year. He later had 75 yards in the second meeting.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler has fallen on the depth chart but his one catch last week went for 72 yards while Nate Jackson only had four yards on his two catches. Scheffler is the only Denver tight end with fantasy value even if he doesn't show up until later in the game.

Scheffler had exactly two catches for 37 yards in both meetings with the Chargers last year.

Match Against the Defense: Unwinding the unbelievable game in Oakland, the Broncos face off with the Chargers who could have been caught napping a bit last week when they were favored by almost ten points over the Panthers. The loss of Merriman is not a positive but could be compensated. The running backs averaged 4.6 yards against the Raiders last week but they've always been a bottom feeder against the run. The Chargers gave up great rushing yardage last week to the Panthers but how that translates into this week is less certain. Bottom line - overall the Broncos will be more challenged to run this week. And projecting who does what is likely an exercise in futility.

Cutler is the key here and he does get both Royal and Marshall on the same field but he never scored against the Chargers in 2007 and had Marshall in those games. Expect a healthy passing yardage here by Cutler with one score that favors Marshall this time.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 3 5 2 12 3 20
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 16 10 10 31 32 25

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