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

Prediction: DAL 27, STL 13

Update: Just to make life a little harder, Tony Romo has worked out with the first team offense some this week and has not been officially ruled out. There have been multiple statements coming out of Dallas that he is or is not playing this week. His broken right pinkie is an issue and is painful. Unless there is a concrete direction given - and there will not be - I will assume that Brad Johnson plays this week. I would not recommend starting either quarterbacks this week though since there is a chance that both could be used in the game. It's potentially a team killer - find a non-Dallas quarterback and be safe.

I am adding in Roy Williams but giving him minimal yardage. The Cowboys should not have to rely on the pass to win this game and Williams has just started to get familiar with the offense. Perhaps next week but there is no reason to expect much this weekend from Williams.

Another game with a tale of entirely two different teams. The Cowboys fell victim to the Cardinals during the week-o-upsets while the Rams actually beat the Redskins in Washington. No, not the apocalypse, just the NFL. This week the Cowboys get to find out what life without Tony Romo or Adam "Don't call me anything anymore" Jones will be like.

The Cowboys crushed the Rams last year, winning 35-7 during week four in Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys (4-2)
Homefield: Texas Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 28-10 -5.5 49
2 PHI 41-37 -7 47
3 @GB 27-16 -3 51
4 WAS 24-26 -11.5 46
5 CIN 31-22 -17.5 44
6 @ARZ 24-30 -5 50
7 @STL - -7 44
8 TB - - -
9 @NYG - - -
10 BYE - - -
11 @WAS - - -
12 SF - - -
13 SEA - - -
14 @PIT - - -
15 NYG - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @PHI - - -
DAL at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson     230,1
RB Tashard Choice 30 10  
RB Marion Barber 110,2 20  
TE Jason Witten   60  
WR Terrell Owens   60,1  
WR Patrick Crayton   30  
WR Roy Williams   40  
PK Nick Folk 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: Ah, the Cowboys now get to add a bit of intrigue into their season now that they will live without Tony Romo for three weeks. Losing to the Cardinals was no help but at least all the other NFC East leaders also fell last week. What the loss of Romo will do remains to be seen, but as has been pointed out, at least Brad Johnson has actually won a playoff game. Playing the Rams should be as good as the Cowboys could hope for in trying out their new Romo-less offense but even the Rams are suddenly looking better.

The Cowboys also just traded to get Roy Williams from the Lions. That won't have much impact on this week but Williams will become a factor very soon.

Quarterback: The 40-year old Brad Johnson may not be very mobile and his arm may not be as strong but at least he doesn't need to learn the ropes in the NFL after playing for 17 years. He's hardly had any playing time in the last two years as Romo's back-up and his last start was with the Vikings in 2006. He certainly knows the offense and could surprise. Unlike the Patriots with Matt Cassell, the Cowboys went with an aging yet well-heeled quarterback. And Johnson inherits an offense with Owens and Witten. And Williams too.

Romo passes for 339 yards and three scores in St. Louis last year.

Running Backs: Felix Jones is expected to miss at least two weeks with a strained hamstring and he will be replaced by Tashard Choice but he may not have quite as big a role. Jones offers a nice complement to Barber while Choice is much more like Barber and will only be relief. That should result in Barber taking an even bigger load in the next few weeks with what should be a lesser passing game with Johnson at the helm. The bigger concern here would be Barber taking on too big of a role but he has carried as many as 28 times in a game without any problems.

The Cowboys used three different runners to produce 149 rushing yards and one touchdown last season.

Wide Receivers: At least this unit has been left alone from the injury bug so far but Terrell Owens has already been smaller factor over the last month and now has to play catch with Brad Johnson. Owens had only had four or less catches in three of the last four games. Worse yet is that his worst two games of the season came in the last two road games. Both Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin have been scoring for the last couple of weeks but all that is in question now with Romo on the sideline. The addition of Roy Williams makes this unit very intriguing in the long run but won't impact this week. It may affect Owens but it may also help to free him more.

Owens only had three catches for 33 yards in St. Louis last year but Patrick Crayton had a season high seven catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten dominates all other NFL tight ends as the leader in catches (39) and yards (497). He's in the fast lane to being the #1 tight end again this year and should remain a preferred target for Johnson. If any player makes an attractive target, it is Witten.

Witten had six receptions for 71 yards and one score in St. Louis last year.

Match Against the Defense: Which Rams or Cowboys show up this week? The Rams have been horrible against the running backs and that bodes really well for Marion Barber who will need to take an even heavier load with Romo out. Everyone scores on the Rams with a running back and three different players have done it twice in the same game. I like that sort of impact by Barber this week assuming that Choice does not get too many carries.

Johnson faces a secondary that has been bad and would have been worse but most teams have just spent their time running the ball against them. I like Owens to score here because he can and his fragile ego could use it. This needs to be a statement game by Dallas since Romo is out and they just lost an upset last week.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 3 4 8 1 23 19
Preventing Fantasy Points    STL 23 31 29 17 30 24

St. Louis Rams (1-4)
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 19-17 +13.5 44
7 DAL - +7 44
8 @NE - - -
9 ARZ - - -
10 @NYJ - - -
11 @SF - - -
12 CHI - - -
13 MIA - - -
14 @ARZ - - -
15 SEA - - -
16 SF - - -
17 @ATL - - -
STL vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     180,1
RB Steven Jackson 60 50  
TE Joe Klopfenstein   10  
WR Torry Holt   40  
WR Donnie Avery   70,1  
PK Josh Brown 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: What a difference a week makes. Sure, the Rams still have never scored over 20 points in a game this year but the defense suddenly appeared and held the Rams to 17 points - two full touchdowns less than any other team had scored against them. This could reflect that the switch in head coaches was well received by the team but the bottom line it was a trap game and went their way by two points. The Rams have played five games and had scored only three offensive touchdowns.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger was back after being benched for one week and he responded with a season low 136 yards and no score against the Skins. He only has two passing touchdowns on the season and never more than 184 passing yards. The Rams won last week but it wasn't because of Bulger.

Bulger only managed 114 yards and no scores in Dallas last year.

Running Backs: The Rams have been punchless on offense but at least Steven Jackson has played well each week. He only has one game over 100 rushing yards but in total yards almost always gets the triple digits thanks to about five catches in most weeks. Jackson has only one touchdown on the year but that came in the last home game against a good Bills defense. He never shares and he always has at least decent yardage.

Jackson was injured when the Rams came to Dallas last year and Brian Leonard filled in with 16 carries for 58 yards.

Wide Receivers: It's a wonder why the Rams were not the team that traded for Roy Williams. Torry Holt has been a mere shadow of his one time stud stature and has only averaged 42 yards per game. Donnie Avery has been the more productive wideout recently and had a career best four catches for 73 yards last week. This remains a weak passing game that rarely scores.

Holt led all Rams receivers in Dallas last year when he had just five catches for 52 yards.

Tight Ends: With Randy McMichael gone, Joe Klopfenstein has remained safely at ten yards or less per game. No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys have been great against the run which really hurts the Rams. Only one runner has scored against them this year and most remain under 60 rushing yards. Jackson will tack on receptions to make him worthwhile but he should remain with moderate yardage totals.

Bulger goes against a secondary that has been only average and that has lost yet another cornerback with Adam Jones suspended but the passing attack here has been so lethargic that expecting anything more than a moderate game is wildly optimistic. I like one passing score just because the Cowboys are not going to skunk anyone right now. That most likely ends up with Avery since he will not be dancing with three defenders on every play like Holt.

Gaining Fantasy Points STL 32 30 24 27 24 21
Preventing Fantasy Points    DAL 20 4 24 8 29 14

The Huddle
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