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

Prediction: SF 23, NO 27

Update: Bryant Johnson was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday but returned for limited work on Friday. He will be a gametime decision but this is an earlier game so you can know if he will play in time to make other moves. The match-up is obviously very nice but Johnson is not a lock to play because of his right hamstring. If he cannot play, Josh Morgan would get the start and playing in this offense against that defense would almost ensure that Morgan would become a coveted free agent next week. Johnson would be a sweet start this week if healthy but he is not. If he does not play at all, Morgan could be a decent play if you have no other options.

The 49ers have a winning record now and have scored over 30 points in each of the last two games. The Saints return home after two close losses on the road and are already in a urgency mode that isn't being helped by injuries to the best receivers. But the Saints at home and the 49ers on the road - it is still the Big Easy.

The Saints won 31-10 when the 49ers visited during week eight of last season.

San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARZ 13-23 +2.5 41.5
2 @SEA 33-30 +8 38.5
3 DET 31-13 -4 46
4 @NO - +6 48.5
5 NE - - -
6 PHI - - -
7 @NYG - - -
8 SEA - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 @ARZ - - -
11 STL - - -
12 @DAL - - -
13 @BUF - - -
14 NYJ - - -
15 @MIA - - -
16 @STL - - -
17 WAS - - -
SFO at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB J. T. O'Sullivan     260,1
RB Frank Gore 80,1 40  
TE Vernon Davis   20  
WR Isaac Bruce   80,1  
WR Bryant Johnson   40  
WR Josh Morgan   50  
WR Arnaz Battle   20  
PK Joe Nedney 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The 49ers are feeling rather smug now that they have a passing game for the first time since 1990-something but the reality is that they have only faced the Cards (a loss) and then the imploding Seahawks and the even worse Lions. The schedule has already gone through the lightest part and now gets tougher. Fortunately the passing game should still work this week thanks to the Saints secondary but the games from here on out will be brutal other than a couple of STL gimmee's.

Quarterback: After Alex Smith had lowered the bar to ground level these past couple of seasons, it is truly exciting to see the 49ers with a passing game that topped 300 yards in week two and had two scores last Sunday against the Lions. J. T. O'Sullivan even has tossed in over 30 rushing yards these past two games. While it is easy to get too far ahead of what beating the Seahawks and Lions really mean, the reality is that Mike Martz has given the team an exponentially better passing game than in previous years and that has not come at the expense of Gore.

Alex Smith passed for 190 yards and one score against the visiting Saints last year.

Running Backs: While the opponents may not have all been top defenses so far, there is no argument that the offense has favored Frank Gore who has scored in each game so far and has averaged around 95 rushing yards per game. Gore has also been good for at least four catches for 32 yards each week as well. His dual role ensures he turns in decent numbers each week.

Gore only gained 41 yards on 12 carries against the Saints last year.

Wide Receivers: As a true sign of a Martz offense, there are productive receivers here and they an change from week to week. Isaac Bruce went from no catches to 153 yards in week two to just 19 yards last Sunday though he scored once. Bryant Johnson has peaked at 78 yards and a score but has been as bad as one catch for 25 yards. Arnaz Battle has a catch or two each week and even Josh Morgan is starting to have a reception in every game. There is nothing yet consistent enough to warrant being a fantasy starter but that may come as the offense settles down during the season.

Tight Ends: Yeah, Vernon Davis was going to have plays designed for him even though Martz had never used tight ends in his offense. After opening with three catches for 51 yards, Davis only has one catch in the last two games and Delanie Walker has the only touchdown caught by a tight end. Not happening here.

Davis had his career best game versus the Saints last year when he caught six passes for 71 yards and one score.

Match Against the Defense: The road version of the 49ers is never as good but at least the Saints still have a bad defense all around. Expect a nice game here by Gore who should have one score and decent yardage as a receiver as well. O'Sullivan should make a decent fantasy start again this week going against a secondary that has always given up at least one score. Look for nice yardage here distributed among the wideouts and with Johnson in the best place to score. The Saints have yet to allow less than 20 points per opponent and the 49ers are starting gel as a passing team.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 12 16 15 15 5 9
Preventing Fantasy Points    NO 24 16 28 22 28 26

New Orleans Saints (1-2)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 TB 24-20 -3.5


2 @WAS 24-29 +1 42.5
3 @DEN 32-34 +5.5 51.5
4 SF - -6 48.5
5 MIN - - -
6 OAK - - -
7 @CAR - - -
8 SD - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 @ATL - - -
11 @KC - - -
12 GB - - -
13 @TB - - -
14 ATL - - -
15 @CHI - - -
16 @DET - - -
17 CAR - - -
NOR vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     280,2
RB Reggie Bush 70 60,1  
RB Pierre Thomas 20,1 10  
TE Billy Miller   20  
WR Robert Meachem   80,1  
WR Devery Henderson   50  
WR Lance Moore   50  
PK Martin Gramatica 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The road has not been kind to the Saints who fall to 1-2 for the want of seven points that could have made them 3-0. After losing Marques Colston, now the Saints will miss Jeremy Shockey for a few weeks but that could serve to make this offense even harder to prepare against. Brees has spread the ball around well and a nice three game stretch of home games should help get the wounded players back on the roster for the late season run.

Quarterback: Drew Brees remains the top ranked quarterback in the league with 980 passing yards but his five passing scores lag other top passers. In his favor, Brees has not had a slow start as he did in 2007 and comes off a 421 yard effort in Denver. Brees has compensated for losing Marques Colston but now must do without Jeremy Shockey as well for a month or more. Just to make matters worse, David Patten strained his groin and may not be available this week. The Saints are always going to be passing team and Brees needs other players to step up like Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson.

Brees passed for 336 yards and four scores against the 49ers last year.

Running Backs: The Saints have taken to dressing out Deuce McAllister for games and yet not using him. According to HC Sean Payton, they had no intention on using him over Pierre Thomas last week. For now, Thomas will remain the short yardage player and he has scored three times over the last two road games.

Reggie Bush has been enjoying his best year so far and has been a force both as a runner and a receiver. His 26 receptions this season is almost twice as many as any other running back and he has two scores as a receiver in addition to the one he ran in last week.

Bush gained 64 yards on ten carries and added seven receptions for 49 yards versus the 49ers last season.

Wide Receivers: The Saints have been hit with a rash of injuries. After losing Marques Colston, David Patten strained his groin last week and Terrance Copper is hobbled by a hamstring injury. That still leaves Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem and each had a good showing in Denver last week. Meachem led the crew with two catches for 86 yards while Moore turned in 78 yards on seven receptions. The Saints are going to throw the ball and there is undoubtedly some potential fantasy points on your waiver wire related to these replacement players.

Colston caught eight passes for 85 yards and three scores in San Francisco last year while Patten turned in five receptions for 109 yards and Terrance Copper scored once.

Tight Ends: The loss of Jeremy Shockey will force the Saints to rely on Billy Miller but he won't play the same role that Shockey did. In Denver last Sunday, Miller caught two passes for 41 yards which was a monster game for him. He's not worth picking up on waivers.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers pass defense has appeared good with no opponent throwing for more than 200 yards or one score but much of that is because they have allowed over 100 rushing yards in each game this year and in their only road game of the year they allowed the Seahawks to gain 154 rushing yards on 31 carries. The Saints would never use that heavy of a rushing attack but it should be good enough for decent rushing yards for Bush who will also have his obligatory yards as a receiver. Look for Thomas to bull in a score this week again.

Brees will have at least a good game here and a shot at a great one if he can connect successfully with his injury depleted receivers. Look for at least two passing scores this week that will favor the wideouts or Bush equally.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 4 3 12 10 22 16
Preventing Fantasy Points    SF 5 22 6 9 29 25
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