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

Prediction: STL 14, WAS 34

Update: Dane Looker has been ruled out this week and was removed from the projections. Drew Bennett remains out with is foot injury and was held out of practice.

The Rams have slowly wafted down the standings until now they are the next best thing to a bye week. The Skins could find themselves in a trap game here but the Rams on the road? When they start losing by less than 17 maybe they can be considered a threat.

St. Louis Rams (0-4)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @PHI 3-38 +7 44
2 NYG 13-41 +8.5 41.5
3 @SEA 13-37 +10 44
4 BUF 14-31 +8 41.5
5 BYE - - -
6 @WAS - +13.5 44
7 DAL - - -
8 @NE - - -
9 ARZ - - -
10 @NYJ - - -
11 @SF - - -
12 CHI - - -
13 MIA - - -
14 @ARZ - - -
15 SEA - - -
16 SF - - -
17 @ATL - - -
STL at WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     200,1
RB Steven Jackson 50,1 50  
TE Joe Klopfenstein   20  
WR Torry Holt   70,1  
WR Donnie Avery   30  
WR Dane Looker 20
PK Josh Brown 2 XP    
Pregame Notes: The Rams used their bye week to dump HC Scott Linehan and upgrade Jim Haslett at least for now. That move is sort of curious since it seems like it rewards Haslett for running a defense that not only is ranked #32 in points allowed, it has never allowed less than 31 points in any game so far.The Rams also rank #32 in points scored with just 43 over four games and never more than 14 points in any game. On the plus side, Haslett takes over with literally no way to go but up. On the down side, there was a reason why the team was worst at scoring and preventing other teams from scoring.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger will resume his role as the starting quarterback and he's been struggling in the new offense. After three games played, Bulger still has not passed for more than 184 yards and has only two touchdowns on the season against three interceptions and 11 sacks. Trent Green started in the previous game and had a season high 236 yards against the Bills but Haslett's first move as the new head coach was to reinstall Bulger as the starter and gain back some of the trust and goodwill with the team that Linehan lost when he opted for Green.

Running Backs: The Rams have plenty of offensive problems and fantasy owners that drafted anyone from St. Louis are no doubt regretting that decision with one exception - Steven Jackson. He has only scored once this year but after starting out with 74 total yards in Philly during week one, he has improved each week and most recently against the Bills he ran for 110 yards and had five receptions for 78 yards. He's had at least five receptions each week and just gets better. The rest of the offense may have struggled horribly but Jackson has been a good fantasy start this year.

Wide Receivers: Haslett has also said that he wants to throw the ball more to Torry Holt which seems reasonable on a team without any other decent receivers. Holt hasn't scored since week two and has just once had more than 76 yards in any game though he has twice dipped below 40 yards. No other wide out for the Rams has logged more than 29 yards in a any game. So far Holt has topped out at only eight passes thrown to him despite playing on the lowest scoring team in the league with the biggest reason to throw to him every play.

Tight Ends: The expected increased use of Randy McMichael by tight end guru OC Al Saunders never materialized and now McMichael is out for at least six weeks with a broken tibia. Joe Klopfenstein will take over as starter but McMichael was only averaging 35 yards per game.

Match Against the Defense: While this could be a trap game, the Redskins only have the Browns up next so no reason to expect an upset. The Skins rushing defense has been very good this year and only allowed two rushing scores to running backs. Jackson will be the central focus of the offense and should manage to get decent yardage with receptions added in. He's also the most likely Ram to score.

Bulger is back and goes against a secondary that ranks about average unlike the Rams offense. The Rams have a coaching change and getting rid of Linehan can prove inspiring for at least one week but the Rams only have so much to work with and are on the road. I will project for one passing score for the Rams but even that may be optimistic. Almost all passing scores allowed by the Skins have gone to the #1 wideout for the opponent and that is clear enough on this team.

Gaining Fantasy Points STL 29 28 24 24 30 31
Preventing Fantasy Points    WAS 16 8 19 11 10 5

Washington Redskins (4-1)
Homefield: FedEx Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NYG 7-16 +3.5 41
2 NO 29-24 -1 42.5
3 ARZ 24-17 -3 42
4 @DAL 26-24 +11.5 46
5 @PHI 23-17 +5 43
6 STL - -13.5 44
7 CLE - - -
8 @DET - - -
9 PIT - - -
10 BYE - - -
11 DAL - - -
12 @SEA - - -
13 NYG - - -
14 @BAL - - -
15 @CIN - - -
16 PHI - - -
17 @SF - - -
WAS vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jason Campbell     180,1
RB Clinton Portis 120,2 20  
TE Chris Cooley   40  
WR Santana Moss   80,1  
WR Antwaan Randle El   20  
WR Devin Thomas   20  
PK Shaun Suisham 4 XP 2 FG  

Pregame Notes: After losing their first game, the Skins have been thoroughly impressive in winning four in a row including road trips to Philly and Dallas. Each win has been by one touchdown or less and both road games had the Skins hanging in tough and mounting a comeback to win. Playing the Rams this week is like a reward for such a productive run of victories. The next three games - STL, CLE and @DET - could all be trap games but in all likelihood, the Skins are going to host the Steelers in week nine with an 7-1 record.

Quarterback: Jason Campbell comes off his first game without a touchdown and he's been just the game manager this year - and a very good one. He only has six scores in five games played but he has not thrown a single interception or lost a fumble. Not one. He had been regularly hooking up with Santana Moss but that was taken away from him by the Eagles and yet Campbell just opted to go back to Chris Cooley like last year. There is limited fantasy value here but in NFL terms, Campbell has taken the next step.

Running Backs: The often undervalued Clinton Portis is having a solid season that is getting better every week. He ran for over 100 yards for the last two weeks and has four rushing scores on the season. He has never had fewer than 21 carries and his 543 yards is second only to Michael Turner. He's even averaging 4.5 yards per carry and is about to hit the easiest three game stretch of the season.

Ladell Betts has seen increased use of around 10 carries for the last two games but has not scored this year and has no reliable fantasy value.

Wide Receivers: The Santana Moss owners in your league finally stopped giggling. After four games of either 100 yards or a touchdown or both, the Eagles shut Moss down with no catches - he only had one pass. But no other wideout stepped up to fill the void since Antwaan Randle El led the wide receivers with only three catches for 34 yards (though he did throw a touchdown on a trick play). Devin Thomas is starting to show up a little with his two catches for 28 yards last week but the bottom line to this group is that either Moss has a good game or none of them do.

Tight Ends: Just when fantasy owners thought that Chris Cooley was losing fantasy value he turns in the best game of the year with eight receptions for 109 yards and one score against the Eagles. That was Cooley's first score of the year and countered his patten of playing well at home and disappearing on the road.

Match Against the Defense: Going against the Rams is a wonderful thing. They rank in the bottom three against QB, RB and WR and the honor is most deserving. The question is always how will the opponent score against them? The Rams have yet to allow fewer than 31 points per game. Expect a fine performance here by Portis with at least one score but there should be enough slop in this game that even Ladell Betts has some yardage if you were really stretching to fill a bye week. Consider that Tony Hunt, Ahmad Bradshaw and T.J. Duckett all scored against them.

It is unlikely that Campbell has a big game here because he will not need to. I would look for one passing score that has to favor Moss and that should make up for having no catches last week. But this will be primarily a running game and I like the chance for a defensive score.

Gaining Fantasy Points WAS 16 18 11 4 7 29
Preventing Fantasy Points    STL 30 31 32 13 30 28

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