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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
* updated

Prediction: ARI 16, NE 31

Update: The weather calls for snow during the game and a cross wind of 13 mph - not a strong wind but mixed with snow it will be noticeable.

Anquan Boldin was held out of all practices this week because of his shoulder and while he has not been ruled out and will travel with the team, he is NOT a safe play. The weather is already not going to be good and the Cardinals hardly familiar with the climate. HC Ken Whisenhunt continues to say that it will be a game time decision but that the team will hold him out if he is not ready since they are more interested in having him ready for the playoff game. The same goes for J.J. Arrington as well. I am removing Boldin from the projections, he's just too big risk to even play let alone have a decent game. The regrettable part of this is that Boldin has been so productive this year that he helped many teams make it to the championship game and yet now will be unlikely to play.

One other issue. Last week, the Cardinals had fallen behind and Matt Leinart took over with 2:20 left to play. There is a chance that the Cards fall behind again this week and Leinart digs a little into Warner's numbers.

The Cardinals clinch a playoff spot and now have lost two of their last three with a very tough gig this week. The Cardinals are 3-4 on the road while the Patriots are 4-3 at home and in a three-way tie for the AFC East that may elude them even winning out depending on tie breakers. While this would be a great win for the Cardinals, the Pats must have this game and the Cards rarely travel well. This will be a cold game with a chance of snow.

Arizona Cardinals (8-6)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SF 23-13 -2.5 41.5
2 MIA 31-10 -7 38.5
3 @WAS 17-24 +3 42
4 @NYJ 35-56 +3 45
5 BUF 41-17 -1 45
6 DAL 30-26 +5 50
7 BYE - - -
8 @CAR 23-27 +4.5 43.5
9 @STL 34-13 -3 49
10 SF 29-24 -9.5 47.5
11 @SEA 26-20 -3.5 47.5
12 NYG 29-37 +3 49
13 @PHI 20-48 +3 47
14 STL 34-10 -13.5 49
15 MIN 14-35 -3 48.5
16 @NE - +8 44
17 SEA - - -
ARI @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     230,1
RB Tim Hightower 30 10  
WR Anquan Boldin 70,1
WR Larry Fitzgerald   90,1  
WR Steve Breaston   70  
PK Neil Rackers 3 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Cardinals won the west but not much else says that they are going deeply into the playoffs with losses every time they step outside their division on the road. So far the Cardinals have swept the division with only a home game against the Seahawks. That means the Cards are only 3-6 outside the NFC Cakewalk West. The team appears to be struggling lately but that's more about playing outside their division.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner is going to the Pro Bowl and it is deserved unlike many of the others so elected. He has thrown for a score in every game this year and has seven games over 300 passing yards but he's slowed down recently with four of the last five weeks only producing a single touchdown and the passing yardage dipping back down into the mid-200's. On the plus side, Warner has been more productive in road games simply because the Cardinals usually fall behind. He throw for more than 300 yards in four of the last five trips away from Arizona and had multiple scores in all but one.

This week could be a problem since Warner has not played in many cold weather game between the St. Louis Edwards Jones Dome and Arizona.

Running Backs: Make no mistake - the Cardinals do not like to run. Tim Hightower has ten rushing scores but has not gained more than 35 rushing yards in the last six weeks. He occasionally serves as a passing outlet but that has topped out with only 34 yards as well. His role is to be there if they reach the one-yard line.

Wide Receivers: After a red hot start through week 12, Anquan Boldin has been rather quiet for three weeks without any scores or more than 63 receiving yards. He doesn't run the ball anymore and has dropped a few passes as well. Boldin makes for a tremendous possession receiver but has struggled in recent weeks.

Larry Fitzgerald has actually been more effective in road games and had four of his five 100+ yard games away from Arizona. He's remained steady around 70 yards each week and scored nine times this reason.

Steve Breaston was questionable last week with sore ribs but played and had 46 yards on four catches. These three receivers are the core to the offense and this week will be cold and potentially have freezing rain. It will not be the sort of weather conducive to a big passing game though the Patriots are soft in the secondary.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: This whole game comes down to weather. If the conditions are favorable to passing, then the Cardinals will make them work for the win. The Pats secondary can be exploited and the Cards have the personnel to do it but much of that depends on the weather and the wind in particular which is currently forecasted for up to 10 MPH - not ideal but not a huge deal.

I will assume weather as a minor issue and update depending on conditions. Were this in Arizona, all three wideouts would be great fantasy starts.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 2 23 1 32 12 10
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 27 13 30 24 6 24

New England Patriots (9-5)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 KC 17-10 -16.5 45
2 @NYJ 19-10 +1.5 39
3 MIA 13-38 -13 34.5
4 BYE - - -
5 @SF 30-21 -3 41.5
6 @SD 10-30 +6 44.5
7 DEN 41-7 -3 46.5
8 STL 23-16 -7 43.5
9 @IND 15-18 +5.5 45
10 BUF 20-10 -4 41
11 NYJ 31-34 -3.5 41.5
12 @MIA 48-28 +2 42
13 PIT 10-33 -1 40
14 @SEA 24-21 -5 43
15 @OAK 49-26 -7 40
16 ARZ - -8 44
17 @BUF - - -
NE vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel     250,2
RB Kevin Faulk 30,1 30  
RB Sammy Morris 50,1    
TE Ben Watson   10  
WR Randy Moss   70,1  
WR Jabar Gaffney   30  
WR Wes Welker   100,1  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Patriots are trying to keep up with the rest of the division and there is an excellent chance that they are able to win out. The visiting Cardinals should freeze up and then the finale against the Bills should be no major feat to win. One issue is that LT Matt Light is banged up but should be able to play this week. The Cardinals are not a huge pass rushing team anyway. With a weaker secondary, this could have been a fun matchup that could end up a shoot out but the Pats should manage to get this one without too much problem.

Quarterback: While perhaps the consistency is lacking, Matt Cassel has been able to follow a proud Patriots tradition by rolling up the score on lesser teams. He passed for a career best four touchdowns in Oakland but only managed one score in the two previous games combined. There is no real rhyme or reason for when he goes off unfortunately which fits perfectly in to the Patriot way. Weather this week may dictate the attack more but Cassel is facing a very weak secondary and may not be able to resist.

Running Backs: And the music starts, circling, circling, and SIT! The musical chairs of the Pats backfield continues with BenJarvus Green-Ellis falling back on the depth chart and Lamont Jordan moving up to make it a three-man rotation. Jordan scored a 49-yard touchdown in Oakland as perhaps a "eat this Al" kind of score but he remains a more distant third and used when games get out of hand..

Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk remain the primary runners in the sense that they are all sort of primary runners eventually. Morris and Faulk have started games and been more reliable if that ever actually exists in New England.

Wide Receivers: Last week was a chance for Randy Moss to also stick it to the Raiders and he left with 67 yards on five receptions and two touchdowns. That gives him nine scores on the season though they came in only five different games. The odd part is that whenever the Pats score more than 30 points in a game, Moss scores. He has yet to score in a game that ended with fewer than 30 points with the exception of week one when Tom Brady played. Otherwise, eight games under 30 points -zero scores for Moss and never more than 65 yards in those games. Wonder what Moss did? Just look at the game score.

Wes Welker is nearly the opposite and has been especially effective in the last six weeks with four games over 100 yards and a score last week for only the second time this year. Welker rarely gets into the endzone, but he's been deadly moving the chains.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value and no catches at all last week.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals have been much less formidable on the road at stopping the run and have allowed two rushing scores in both the last two road contests. Expect one rushing score here - it could be two - and it could be any of the running backs. I will award it to Morris with very little confidence. The worse the weather is, the more likely the rushing game is more highlighted.

Cassel goes against a secondary that gets riddled on the road. In the last six trips away from Arizona, the Cards have allowed a total of 17 passing scores - about three per game. The yardage has never been that healthy since most teams run a lot on them but the scores are there via the pass. I like this game to end up as 30+ points which means Moss scores and so should Welker this week. He gets matched up on CB Rod Hood who was burned for three scores last week and has been the weaker link.

This all comes down to weather.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 10 8 6 28 2 26
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 32 20 31 14 10 21

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