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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Bye Week
* updated

Prediction: SD 24, NO 21

Update: Chris Chambers has not had a full practice any day this week and is at best a gametime decision. I am removing him from the projections and crediting Malcolm Floyd with the increase. Deuce McAllister has been reported to have violated the league's steroid policy with some "water pills" but it is known today to cause an immediate suspension. Track this closely but it appears he will play this week anyway.

Blimey! It's played on a pitch and watched by people quaffing ale and eating bangers. The NFL's quest for world domination lands in London, England this week where the 3-4 Chargers face the 3-4 Saints in a game that looked to be explosive a few months back. One important thing to remember - this is a hard to play game on the other side of the Atlantic that is eight hours ahead for the Chargers. And getting reliable weather reports for 9 P.M. in London and what they mean to the field all interjects unknowns into this game. The forecast is currently for weather around 45 degrees and a 30% chance of rain.

Take as a sample last year when the Giants and Dolphins played. Eli Manning passed 8 of 22 for 59 yards and no scores but Jacobs ran for 131 yards on 23 carries in the steady rain. Cleo Lemon passed 17 of 30 for 149 yards and one score. Burress had 14 yards on two catches and Shockey led the Giants with 26 yards on three catches. This could be a much different game than you would normally expect because of the time change and weather. It is a coin flip and neither team is home.

San Diego Chargers (3-4)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 24-26 -9 42
2 @DEN 38-39 -1.5 45.5
3 NYJ 48-29 -9 44
4 @OAK 28-18 -7 46
5 @MIA 10-17 -6.5 45.5
6 NE 30-10 -6 44.5
7 @BUF 14-23 -1 46.5
8 @NO - -3.5 47
9 BYE - - -
10 KC - - -
11 @PIT - - -
12 IND - - -
13 ATL - - -
14 OAK - - -
15 @KC - - -
16 @TB - - -
17 DEN - - -
SD @ London with NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     230,2
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 70,1 20  
TE Antonio Gates   50  
WR Vincent Jackson   80,1  
WR Malcolm Floyd   50,1  
WR Chris Chambers 40,1
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Chargers season has been getting worse with losing two of the last three games and having a challenge scoring away from home. With only a bye week waiting, the Chargers need a win here to have any hope of catching the 4-3 Broncos anytime soon.This week could be a challenge since Tomlinson has been less effective this year and the passing game could feel the effects from traveling and time change and new field and so on that impacts timing.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers leads the NFL with 16 passing touchdowns but his three worst games all came in his last three road trips. He only managed a total of four touchdowns from those three games and yet has scored exactly three times in all other games this year. His yardage was worst as well with never more than 208 yards. That string should continue.

Running Backs: Simple question. Is it over? The undisputed stud running back of the last three years has only topped 100 rushing yards once and scored in only two games. His last two road trips produced no scores and only 57 and 67 total yards. In the last three weeks, Ladainian Tomlinson has rushed 46 times for 150 yards and no scores. That's a 3.3 yard rushing average. His toe is still an issue and he has not appeared to be getting better. His role as a receiver has taken a hit as well with most weeks serving up only around three catches for 20 yards. This is not the LT we used to know and we have to wonder if that guy is gone for good.

Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle may return this week but in his place Malcolm Floyd has not skipped a beat with games of 75 and 65 yards and a score in each. Vincent Jackson had scored in each of the last two games as well but has been locked around 55 yards in almost all road games this year. Craig Davis is still bothered by his sore groin but has been a relative nonfactor this season anyway.

I will project for Chambers to return this week and for Floyd to help cover for Craig Davis still. But the passing numbers here are likely to be lower than usual given the London venue.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates has gone from being the ultimate tight end to being just another pretty good one. He only has four scores on the season and has not topped five catches or 61 yards in a game. Three of his scores came in home games as well.

Match Against the Defense: Tomlinson has not been running well and the Saints rushing defense has been above average this year. No runner has topped 100 yards against them and only three have scored - though all in away games. The old LT would tear up this game but 2008 has a different player all together. Look for moderate to good yardage from a volume of carries and the chance for one rushing score.

Rivers faces a secondary that has never given up more than two scores in a game but can be beaten. As long as the weather holds, look for Rivers to throw for two scores here with decent yardage. That should favor Jackson almost as a guarantee and could end up with Chambers if he is healthy again. You have to know both teams want a long score for the fans and Jackson is the guy for the Chargers.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 7 18 12 8 12 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    NO 16 11 25 17 27 17

New Orleans Saints (3-4)
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 31-17 -6 48.5
5 MIN 27-30 -3 47
6 OAK 34-3 -7.5 47.5
7 @CAR 7-30 +3 44
8 SD - +3.5 47
9 BYE - - -
10 @ATL - - -
11 @KC - - -
12 GB - - -
13 @TB - - -
14 ATL - - -
15 @CHI - - -
16 @DET - - -
17 CAR - - -
NO @ London vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     250,2
RB Aaron Stecker 40 20  
RB Deuce McAllister 50,1 10  
TE Jeremy Shockey   30,1  
WR Robert Meachem   30  
WR Marques Colston   40  
WR Devery Henderson   50,1  
WR Lance Moore   70  
PK Taylor Mehlhaff 3 XP    

Pregame Notes: The Saints sacrificed one of their home games for this and that is unfortunate is a season where they need all the breaks they can get. Losing Reggie Bush even for a few weeks is going to hurt since he was the focal point of both the rushing and passing game. The Saints were demolished last week in Carolina but have been competitive every week. But trading in a home game for a trip to London without Reggie Bush will be a tall order to fill.

Quarterback: Drew Brees remains the leading passer in the NFL with 2224 yards but his string of 300+ yard games came crashing down last Sunday when he only had 231 yards and no scores. What will impact Brees this week is that he no longer has the premier pass catching back in the offense and he is on the road where three games have only produced a total of two touchdowns. The return of Marques Colston last week did not go well since he was rusty and had no catches. This should be a challenging week for Brees.

Notable fact - this is the first time that Brees faces off against his old team.

Running Backs: The Saints took a hit when Reggie Bush tore his meniscus in his knee at the end of the first half last week. He will miss at least a couple of games and the Saints also lost their center Jonathan Goodwin to a knee injury. Deuce McAllister will factor in more but he has only scored once this season and has none of the moves or receiving ability of Bush. Last year when this happened, Aaron Stecker stepped in and had a three game stretch with a total of 248 rushing yards, four touchdowns and 84 receiving yards.

But that was without McAllister there. HC Sean Payton has said that he will rely on Stecker and Pierre Thomas to step up and play alongside McAllister. I will assume that Stecker reprises what was a successful role in 2007 but change as warranted.

Wide Receivers: Marques Colston finally returned last week and it could not have gone worse. He was targeted on four passes, caught none and had one intercepted. He was later pulled from the game because he was too rusty and ineffective. For the first time, David Patten was a healthy inactive last week and that signals his fall on the depth chart behind Lance Moore and Robert Meachem. This unit needs to take a step up with Reggie Bush out for a few weeks. Colston in particular needs to get back on track.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey played for the first time since surgery to correct a sports hernia. He suffered a setback when he did the splits on the field last week and he ripped the Saints for not correctly diagnosing how bad his groin was. Shockey made the trip to London but is not yet certain to play. I will project for him to be limited and adjust on Friday as needed.

Match Against the Defense: This should have been a nice game for the Saints if they were healthy and at home. But they are neither and will make do without Reggie Bush. The Chargers have been average against the run but the Saints will be using McAllister and some mix of Stecker and/or Pierre Thomas. I will project moderate numbers but McAllister has a shot at a score if they end up near the goal line.

The Chargers always give up a passing score and decent yardage as well but this being a game at a weird time for the players with all the distractions and differences makes it hard to call as a big effort by Brees. I like the Saints to make this a decent game and hope the same scoring problems from last year do not occur again. I like Brees for decent yards here and a score for Shockey if he plays against the #32 defense against tight ends. Another score will be some long bomb to impress the stands and could end up anywhere. I will credit it to Henderson but Meachem or Moore could just as easily deliver.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 4 9 6 24 9
Preventing Fantasy Points    SD 28 16 17 32 21 15

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