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

Prediction: MIA 24, DEN 20

Update: In a wonderful comparison between teams, the Dolphins entire injury report lists only one player - RB Casey Cramer who missed every practice and is out. No one else is evidently injured or in question for the Dolphins. But the Broncos have listed every running back on their roster as questionable this week. I am not changing the projections because Michael Pittman had full practices all week and his ribs apparently held up well enough to not need any rest. Ryan Torain is listed because of the elbow that has kept him out all season until now but he too practiced every day and will play. The question is how much sharing there will be. Pittman is a safe and productive veteran so look for him to take the majority of the work. That may change if Torain plays and explodes but no one has seen Torain in the regular season so this is the week to best watch Torain and not play him. Even though you really, really want to use him.

Brandon Marshall was limited this week as well but will play.

No doubt that the Dolphins are a surprise team this year but they hit the road where they are only 1-2 and go to Denver where the Broncos are 3-1 and rested after their bye week. That the Broncos have only been given a three point spread for homefield speaks volumes to the ascent of the Dolphins and the inconsistency of the Broncos.

Miami Dolphins (3-4)
Homefield: Dolphins Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 NYJ 14-20 +3 36
2 @ARZ 10-31 +7 38.5
3 @NE 38-13 +13 34.5
4 BYE - - -
5 SD 17-10 +6.5 45.5
6 @HOU 28-29 +3 45
7 BAL 13-27 -3 36.5
8 BUF 25-16 +1.5 42.5
9 @DEN - +3 49
10 SEA - - -
11 OAK - - -
12 NE - - -
13 @STL - - -
14 @BUF - - -
15 SF - - -
16 @KC - - -
17 @NYJ - - -
MIA @ DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Pennington     260,1
RB Ronnie Brown 70,1 20  
RB Ricky Williams 40,1 10  
TE Anthony Fasano   30  
WR Davone Bess   20  
WR Greg Camarillo   70  
WR Ted Ginn Jr.   80,1  
PK Dan Carpenter 1FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: Big win over the Bills last week and the Dolphins have morphed from a running team using the old single wing into a passing team that no longer affords defenses the luxury of loading up against the run. This trip is the only road game in the middle of a six week stretch of home games and then the Fins finish with four of five weeks on the road. But the season is already a success so everything from here on out is merely gravy. The team has already exceeded expectations and is having fun in what essentially is a free year.

Quarterback: Wait a minute. Chad Pennington was supposed to be that veteran game manager there to install a new offense. But these last three weeks has has remained above 280 yards. He has scored in each of the last four games. He only has three interceptions on the year and no lost fumbles. The passing game is starting to bloom and Pennington is involving everyone in it.

Running Backs: The rushing game has stalled in recent weeks against solid defenses and Ronnie Brown has offered minimal production for two weeks. Ricky Williams has fared little better only because of one touchdown run last week but that four week stretch where Brown was scoring and running as the quarterback has been figured out and shelved for now. The passing game has really flourished in part because of defenses focusing on the run game but this offense operates more to form when Brown at least produces average or better numbers.

Wide Receivers: Ted Ginn Jr. comes off a career best game when he had seven receptions for 175 yards against the visiting Bills. That represents a leap since Ginn only had 177 yards over the previous six weeks combined. and yet he still managed to not score. It was a break out game to be sure but since he never had more than 55 yards in any game, he just had one freak afternoon.

Greg Camarillo chugs along with his five catches for about 50 yards every week but he only has one score on the season and that came in a home game same as Ginn's breakout. Even though Pennington has passed for great yardage for three weeks, he is spreading the ball around so much that Ginn is the only player with a big game at all.

Tight Ends: Both Anthony Fasano and David Martin figure in almost equally every week but that rarely gives either enough action to warrant fantasy consideration. Fasano scored last week but that was his first since week three. I will project for Fasano as the tight end but Martin always figures in a bit.

Match Against the Defense: This should be a decent showing for Ronnie Brown against a rushing defense that has struggled home and away. They have allowed eleven scores for running backs this year and the Fins passing attack is going well enough that they will not just load up on Brown. Expect moderate to good yardage and at least one score by a running back.

Pennington faces a secondary that has been almost inexplicably bad this year and now has lost Champ Bailey for a month or more. That should give Ted Ginn Jr. more running room the week after he had a breakout game. Look for a healthy passing game here that should produce healthy yardage and at least one passing score that we'll give to Ginn.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 15 2 26 2 28 16
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 27 31 16 25 23 17

Denver Broncos (4-3)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 41-14 -3 41.5
2 SD 39-38 +1.5 45.5
3 NO 34-32 -5.5 51.5
4 @KC 19-33 -9.5 46.5
5 TB 16-13 -3 48
6 JAX 17-24 -3.5 48
7 @NE 7-41 +3 46.5
8 BYE - - -
9 MIA - -3 49
10 @CLE - - -
11 @ATL - - -
12 OAK - - -
13 @NYJ - - -
14 KC - - -
15 @CAR - - -
16 BUF - - -
17 @SD - - -
DEN vs. MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     250,2
RB Michael Pittman 50 20  
RB Ryan Torain 40    
TE Tony Scheffler   40,1  
WR Eddie Royal   60  
WR Brandon Stokley   20  
WR Brandon Marshall   90,1  
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The loss in New England was painful but Jay Cutler was playing injured and the Broncos have been wildly inconsistent this year. The next six games could all be won but until the defense figures out how to stop opponents, it could just be more of the every other week losing. Having Champ Bailey miss up to six weeks puts a big hole into a defense that already had several. The debut of Ryan Torain sparks at least some fantasy excitement in the way that you can be almost certain that will initially disappoint. Whatever you expect of the Broncos, figure on them doing the opposite.

Quarterback: Jay Cutler injured his finger on the first play of the Patriots game but continued to play despite throwing clearly less accurate passes. He ended with a season low 168 passing yards and just one touchdowns. The bye week came at an opportune time and Cutler has returned to practice this week without the swelling. After a red hot start to the season which coincided with facing four bad defenses, Cutler has struggled in the last three games that all happened against above-average opponents. This week starts another four game stretch against softer opponents.

Running Backs: In the ever dwindling backfield in Denver, Michael Pittman has become the primary back and even turned in two decent games as of late with a total of 40 carries and 197 yards being almost exactly split. But this week is the one where Ryan "everybody's sleeper" Torain should have a role even if it is only as relief for Pittman. I'll check the status as the week progresses and update if warranted but those of you hoping for Torain to step in and immediately crank out a monster game are going to be disappointed.

Pittman will be bringing sore ribs into this game and Selvin Young's groin has been slow to heal. The Broncos may actually need Torain to play a lot. Pittman is expected to be "questionable" this week so I will project for him to be very limited.

Wide Receivers: Like Cutler, Brandon Marshall had a tremendous start to the season and still has the NFL lead for receptions but he hasn't scored in the last three games and his yardage has been less - though still definitely fantasy relevant. Eddie Royal missed week six but had nine catches for 71 yards in New England. Along with Marshall, Royal gives Cutler very valuable targets that far outweigh anyone else that Cutler likes to use. This four game stretch coming up should see both Royal and Marshall return to scoring.

Brandon Stokley has the only wide out scores in the last two weeks but doesn't have the yardage or catches in most weeks to matter. He should play this week after sustaining a concussion before the bye week.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler has been out for a few weeks with a bad groin but the bye week should have helped. His yardage was never replaced by Daniel Graham but he had a touchdown in both the recent games that Scheffler has missed. I will assume that Scheffler will play and update as needed.

Match Against the Defense: The Dolphin's rushing defense has been sound this year and the Broncos are bringing in an untested rookie Torain and a busted up Pittman. Expect only moderate numbers at best and likely no scoring. Yes, I know you want to see Torain run for 120 yards and two scores because Shanahan said he is the next Terrell Davis. But it may take more than one week.

Cutler is the key here and his finger should be healed. He could post some very nice numbers here on a secondary that can be beaten but Cutler last not played that well for three weeks now. Expect at least one score for Marshall who should get back on track this week and another for a tight end. There have been no wideout to catch a touchdown since week four - that has to change.,

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 6 26 3 3 13 25
Preventing Fantasy Points    MIA 21 9 31 5 14 7

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