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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week

Prediction: DAL 17, DEN 16

Saturday Update: Barber has practiced the last two days in full and starts. Jones is already listed as out.

Friday Update: As expected, Felix Jones has missed both practices and is not expected to play. Marion Barber was limited on Wednesday but had a full day on Thursday and is expected to play. He is safe to start and will share with Tashard Choice.

The Cowboys finally got a win in their new stadium and hit the road as three point favorites over the 3-0 Broncos who so far no one believes is remotely that good. But a defense that has only allowed 16 points in three games cannot be smoke and mirrors and the Cowboys have a penchant for mistakes when they hurt the most. This should be a low scoring affair and as such very sensitive to which team makes the most errors.

Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Homefield: Texas Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @TB 34-21 -5 39
2 NYG 31-33 -3 43.5
3 CAR 21-7 -9 46
4 @DEN - -3 43
5 @KC - - -
6 BYE - - -
7 ATL - - -
8 SEA - - -
9 @PHI - - -
10 @GB - - -
11 WAS - - -
12 OAK - - -
13 @NYG - - -
14 SD - - -
15 @NO - - -
16 @WAS - - -
17 PHI - - -
DAL at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     220,1
RB Marion Barber III 70,1    
RB Tashard Choice 50 30  
TE Jason Witten   60,1  
TE Martellus Bennett   30  
WR Roy Williams   30  
WR Patrick Crayton   30  
WR Miles Austin   10  
PK Nick Folk 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Nice win over the Panthers helped salve the pain from the Giants loss but losing Felix Jones for a few weeks is not going to help. Jones is yet again proving to be a devastating runner who has no chance of playing for a month without getting injured. The defense stepped up last week but in a home game against a win-less team it should be expected. Back on the road this time will be a big challenge and the Cowboys are on a short week.

Quarterback: Tony Romo had no scores on Monday for the first time this year but then again he had no turnovers either. He has done little to quell the critics so far but the next two road games can help make his case. Playing in Denver will be very tough since the Broncos have yet to give up a passing touchdown and Romo has to avoid throwing risky passes near the top notch cornerbacks of the Broncos.

Consider Romo as just an average start this week with likely no more than one passing score that will be success enough against the Broncos secondary. Expect only moderate yardage.

Running Backs: Marion Barber was held out last week but was prepared to play. He'll likely be back this week since Fragile Felix Jones is once again injured and expected to miss at least two weeks with a sprained knee. He was replaced by Tashard Choice taking over on Monday not unlike he did late season of 2008. Choice gashed the Panthers defense for 82 runs on 18 carries with many coming right up the gut. He scored once and added 36 yards on four receptions.

This week I am projecting for a split between Barber and Choice but will update it depending on later week developments if needed.

The Broncos have been very good against the run but allowed Cedric Benson to score on 21 carries for 76 yards. And the Browns just do not count. Last week the Raiders had zero passing game and could only generate 20 runs for negligible yardage but the Cowboys bring a much better and more diverse offense to town. Expect a decent game here by both players but if Choice was to end up as the sole runner, he could have a nice game though there should only be one rushing touchdown regardless.

Wide Receivers: Roy Williams comes off a good effort of the year with four receptions for 75 yards on Monday and so far his best was in the only road game in Tampa Bay. Patrick Crayton opened the year on a big note but has been only a mediocre outlet since. Mile Austin has been even worse with just two receptions on the season.

The Broncos strength of the defense comes against wide receivers and with this crew proving to be average at best, no reason to start any this week. Romo will connect with them only enough to keep the defense honest but knows he is tempting fate each time he challenges the cornerbacks.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten had his best effort on the year when he caught nine passes for 77 yards. There is no secret - Witten is a key to the Dallas offense and even more so this week with the wideouts likely well covered. What should also happen this week is Martellus Bennett show up for the first time since he has only been good for one catch per week so far this year. Dallas needs him to show up this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 11 3 13 12 11 22
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 1 4 3 2 1 2

Denver Broncos (3-0)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CIN 12-7 +5 42.5
2 CLE 27-6 -3 38
3 @OAK 23-3 -1.5 35.5
4 DAL - +3 43
5 NE - - -
6 @SD - - -
7 BYE - - -
8 @BAL - - -
9 PIT - - -
10 @WAS - - -
11 SD - - -
12 NYG - - -
13 @KC - - -
14 @IND - - -
15 OAK - - -
16 @PHI - - -
17 KC - - -
DEN vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     220,1
RB Knowshon Moreno 90 20  
RB Correll Buckhalter 70    
TE Tony Scheffler   10  
WR Brandon Marshall   80,1  
WR Eddie Royal   30  
WR Jabar Gaffney   50  
PK Matt Prater 3 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Broncos rise to 3-0 thanks to a lucky catch by Brandon Stokley and a nice gift from the schedule makers. But the defense has been outstanding. Only allowing 16 points not only makes this defense #1 against scoring, the #2 team (NYJ) have 33 points allowed. And the #3 team (IND) gave up 45 so far. Nice schedule or not, that's a huge accomplishment not to be overlooked. This week started a pretty brutal stretch for the Broncos though. They will need that defense even more the rest of the season.

Quarterback: Three weeks into his new gig and Kyle Orton is producing numbers like he still in Chicago. He has thrown for exactly one score each week and around 220 yards. He has yet to have an interception or turnover and has not been sacked since week one. Of course playing the Browns and Raiders helped. Orton is being a game manager and allowing his defense to control the game. His role will be greatly expanding in coming games when the opponents will be forcing the Broncos to a pass heavy scheme.

The Cowboys secondary has been victimized by the likes of Eli Manning and Byron Leftwich and even Jake Delhomme had marginal success. Look for more of the same from Orton who is not going to win or lose the game for the Broncos.

Running Backs: Knowshon Moreno is getting better each week and despite being on the injury report with his groin injury, he had 21 runs for 90 yards and a score in Oakland on Sunday. He is running better and showing his speed again. Correll Buckhalter had 108 yards on just 14 carries last week and is yielding time to Moreno. The Broncos are still involving Peyton Hillis as a goal line back who cannot score and even Lamont Jordan has showed up for a half dozen carries in the last couple of games. This is turning into Moreno's team but he won't ever be alone and will continue to share the load. It will significantly decrease the value he could have as an exclusive runner.

The Cowboys have been very good against the run the last two weeks but they often are when playing at home. On the road they tend to be softer as the Buccaneers showed when they rushed for 160 yards against them. The split in carries is a killer from what could be but Moreno is still a decent start this week. There is a chance for a rushing touchdown but even if it happened it could end up with one of four players. Moreno is worth a start and Buckhalter is a decent bye week filler for Sunday if you have few options.

Wide Receivers: Brandon Marshall comes off his finest effort of the year when he turned in five receptions for 67 yards and a score in Oakland. Granted that is about half what he used to get in 2008 but at least he is improving each week. Eddie Royal has lost all sense of fantasy value as Kyle Orton apparently hates him. Royal has only six catches for 42 yards on the season. Cutler would have that by the end of the first quarter with Royal last year.

Brandon Stokley was active last week and had three plays but never had a pass thrown to him. He is nursing a bad thigh strain and will likely be a non-factor again this week. I'll project for Jabar Gaffney this week but Stokley could be back.

The touchdown pass could go anywhere but if it ends up with a wideout, it would almost guaranteed be with Marshall who is slowly exerting his dominance over the receivers. The Dallas secondary is nothing special but so far neither are these receivers.

Tight Ends: Minimal use of the position in this offense.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 26 7 16 20 6 6
Preventing Fantasy Points    DAL 20 16 27 24 11 15

The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week
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