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

Prediction: SD 17, TB 23

Update: Malcolm Floyd had a collapsed lung and will not play this week. The Buccaneers now expect for Jeff Garcia to play even though he was limited in all practices this week. I am adding him back in but he may not last the entire game depending on his his calf fares. Not a safe start for a fantasy team.

The Chargers have won their last two games (barely and thanks to the AFC West) but head out on their final road game of the year where they have only been 2-5. The Buccaneers have lost their last two games and fallen to two games out of the NFC West. But they are the only team besides the Panthers that have not lost a home game this year.

San Diego Chargers (6-8)
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 32-37 -3.5 47
9 BYE - - -
10 KC 20-19 -15 48
11 @PIT 10-11 +4 43
12 IND 20-23 -3 49.5
13 ATL 16-22 -5 49
14 OAK 34-7 -10 43
15 @KC 22-21 -5 46.5
16 @TB - +3.5 42
17 DEN - - -
SD @ TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     250,2
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 50 30,1  
TE Antonio Gates   60  
WR Vincent Jackson   80,1  
WR Malcolm Floyd 20
WR Chris Chambers   30  
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Chargers wind down what could be the most disappointing season in team history. All the same offensive stars from a team that once led the league in scoring and yet for a variety of reasons - defensive injuries, aging of stars, bad mojo, Norv Turner, etc. - the 6-8 Chargers are really just 2-8 when you ignore sweeping the Chiefs and Raiders. So far the Chargers have lost every road game that wasn't in either Oakland or Kansas City.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers remains tied with Drew Brees for the NFL passing touchdown lead (28) though his yardage lags considerably with only 3515 yards so far. Rivers had gone through a three game slump before last week's season's best 346 yards in Kansas City (of course). This week will be a very tough matchup for Brees who only passed for 164 yards and no scores when in Pittsburgh against another great defense. Rivers has feasted on a slew of bad defenses and this week is a chance to at least wind down the season on a high note.

Running Backs: The disappointing season for LaDainian Tomlinson hasn't ended yet and what should have been an easy matchup in Kansas City last week only produced 15 carries for 39 yards and one touchdown. Granted, he added a six catches for 35 yards but the decline of Tomlinson is pronounced when a trip to Kansas City only comes up with 39 rushing yards. Last year in Kansas City, Tomlinson merely gained 177 rushing yards and scored twice. That is a sad yet telling drop in one year.

Tomlinson has been better with scoring since he has a touchdown in each of the last four games but on the road this year he's been even worse. Outside of facing the Saints and Raiders, he had five games that never topped 57 rushing yards. That's Tomlinson. LaDainian Tomlinson.

Wide Receivers: Vincent Jackson scored again last week giving him seven touchdowns on the season but he only had two games over 100 yards and both were at home. Jackson struggles to exceed 60 yards in road games. Chris Chambers finally showed up in the box score last week when he had two catches for 28 yards but he only had one catch in the two previous games and has never been a factor since an ankle injury around mid-season.

Malcolm Floyd was taking the slot but had a collapsed lung that required him to be hospitalized overnight last week. HC Norv Turner has not ruled him out this week though and Floyd had been posting around 70 yards each week while most defenses focused more on Jackson and Antonio Gates. I will project a very limited Floyd to play and update on Friday as warranted.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates hasn't scored since week ten and remarkably has no 100 yard games this season. His only scores on the road came in New Orleans and Oakland and otherwise he has been topping out around 50 yards when away from San Diego. Last week was one of his better games with seven catches for 78 yards but that came against the Chiefs. When he was in Pittsburgh, he was limited to only ten yards on two catches.

Match Against the Defense: The Chargers may have a small break thanks to LB Derrick Brooks questionable this week with sore ribs but Tomlinson has hardly been running well lately and the rest of the Bucs defense at home can handle the one-time uber-stud turned stiff. Look for moderate yardage at most and no scores. No visiting runner has scored in Tampa Bay this year and none have gained more there than Adrian Peterson's 85 rushing yards.

Rivers goes against a secondary that has been weaker as of late and ex-Charger Drew Brees passed for 296 yards and two scores in Tampa Bay just two weeks ago. That game allowed 78 yards to the Saints tight ends so don't shy away from Gates this week. Jackson is always the best bet for a passing score and the Bucs typically allow the opponent's #1 wideout to score once.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 5 13 13 8 17 17
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 5 14 7 3 15 13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NO 20-24 +3.5


2 ATL 24-9 -8 38.5
3 @CHI 27-24 +3 35.5
4 GB 30-21 -1.5 43
5 @DEN 13-16 +3 48
6 CAR 27-3 -1.5 36.5
7 SEA 20-10 -11 39
8 @DAL 9-13 +2 42
9 @KC 30-27 -8.5 37.5
10 BYE - - -
11 MIN 19-13 -4 39.5
12 @DET 38-20 -8.5 41
13 NO 23-20 -3.5 48
14 @CAR 23-38 +3 40
15 @ATL 10-13 +2.5 42
16 SD - -3.5 42
17 OAK - - -
TB vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese 250,1
QB Jeff Garcia     240,1
RB Warrick Dunn 70 20  
RB Carnell Williams 50,1 10  
TE Jerramy Stevens   30  
WR Michael Clayton   30  
WR Ike Hilliard   20  
WR Antonio Bryant   100,1  
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Losing the last two games means the Buccaneers are looking more for a wildcard than the division that the Panthers can clinch this week. But the Bucs have two home games against very soft teams left to play and every reason to believe that they can finish with an 11-5 record. Defensive injuries have lessened what has been a dominating defense but have only allowed 11 points per visitor on average. No visiting team has scored more than 21 points in Tampa Bay.

Quarterback: It is apparent that the coaching staff is not all that confident in Luke McCown who himself believed would be the starter last week but Brian Griese was given the nod and threw for a respectable 269 yards and one score in the loss in Atlanta. I will assume that Griese starts again this week until Jeff Garcia is cleared to play and gets some practice time. Updates on Friday as warranted.

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn's return to Tampa Bay has offered a veteran presence in the backfield but the results have been mediocre at best with only two touchdowns and only twice gaining more than 75 yards in a game. He has served as a receiver in most games and even had a season high 50 yards on seven catches in Atlanta as a way to greet his old team but Dunn has been stuck around 50 or 60 rushing yards in most games this year.

Carnell Williams gained a season high 59 yards on 14 carries in Atlanta but did not score for the first time in three weeks. He's splitting duty with Williams and neither offer much fantasy value.

Wide Receivers: For a player that had been a career-long head case and someone who was not even playing football in 2007, Antonio Bryant has showed back up with a vengeance and has 1044 receiving yards and will end with a career best season. He has also scored six times and that includes three times in the last two road games - CAR and ATL. He has not been above the occasional clunker of a game but since midseason has been one of the top fantasy scorers for wideouts.

Another sign of his value - no other wideout here has scored this season other than Ike Hilliard who gave that up around mid-season. This has evolved into Bryant's team and he offers the most fantasy value of any Tampa Bay player.

Tight Ends: Alex Smith and Jerramy Stevens have both scored a few times this year but neither have offered nearly the consistency or production to warrant a fantasy start. The emergence of Bryant has pretty much sucked up all those one touchdown games for himself and left the tight ends with almost nothing.

Match Against the Defense: The Chargers are tougher against the run than the pass but the Buccaneers at home will want to control the clock and keep Rivers off the field so they won't thrown more than they need to. The split between Dunn and Williams leaves them with marginal fantasy value though Williams should have a score here. Five runners in road games have managed as much.

Griese - or Garcia depending - goes against one of the worst secondaries in the league and that should let Griese enjoy a better game - which of course translate straight to Bryant - and it would be a surprise of Stevens or Smith doesn't have a good showing here against the worst team at stopping tight ends.

Gaining Fantasy Points TB 19 17 18 7 5 4
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 29 8 17 32 14 14

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