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David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CHI
Monday
SD
GB
*updated
NO

Prediction: NE 17, DEN 16

Saturday Update: Wes Welker is questionable to play as he was last week. He's likely to play of course and Correll Buckhalter was officially ruled out this week.

Friday Update: Fred Taylor had ankle surgery that puts him out for what could be most of the season since he had a high ankle sprain and tore some ligaments. I am removing him and adding in Sammy Morris but as with all things Patriots, the workload will be shared and unreliable to forecast. Wes Welker has been limited in practice as is becoming his standard but he is still expected to play.

This could end up as the game of the week since the Patriots head into Denver to play one of the five remaining teams. This is more interesting too since the only loss by the Patriots came in their only road game so far and the Broncos have allowed only 26 points this year - that's less than seven per game. This will be a low scoring game and the winner is more likely the guy making the fewest mistakes. This is pupil (Josh McDaniels) versus teacher (Bill Belichick).

The Patriots won 41-7 when the Broncos were the visitor last year during week seven.

New England Patriots (3-1)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 BUF 25-24 -10.5 47
2 @NYJ 9-16 -6 46
3 ATL 26-10 -4 44.5
4 BAL 27-21 -2 44.5
5 @DEN - -3.5 41.5
6 TEN - - -
7 @TB - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 MIA - - -
10 @IND - - -
11 NYJ - - -
12 @NO - - -
13 @MIA - - -
14 CAR - - -
15 @BUF - - -
16 JAC - - -
17 @HOU - - -
NE vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     260,1
RB Fred Taylor 50 10
RB Sammy Morris 50    
TE Ben Watson   20,1  
WR Randy Moss   60  
WR Wes Welker   70  
WR Julian Edelman   40  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Beating the Ravens last week showed that the Patriots would remain a force in the AFC if only in home games. It has been much less a dominating year though with three of the four games decided by a touchdown or less and the Patriots still have yet to score more than 27 points in any game. This is a big game and a win here would go far to help the Pats reach the playoffs. The two games afterwards - TEN and @TB should both be cakewalks.

Quarterback: Tom Brady continues to disappoint those who spent an early pick in the hopes of replicating 2007 but he's not been bad. Just not great. Brady has four touchdowns on the season and has remained above 250 yards in almost every game. He only has two interceptions. He's a solid start for a fantasy team but he's not been any difference maker either.

Matt Cassel threw for 185 yards and three touchdowns against the Broncos last year.

Here is the fun part - no quarterback has passed for a score against the Broncos this year. None. Twice opponents have reached 250 yards but none have actually scored a touchdown. The Patriots bring in the most complicated offense yet for the Broncos though and there will be more than just the two receivers for the cornerbacks to cover.

Running Backs: The muddled mess remains a weekly enigma and while Fred Taylor has been sort of a primary back, he only has one notable game so far. Other than his 105 yards and a score against the visiting Falcons, there has been no Pats running back who has gained more than 46 yards in a game. Sammy Morris just scored only the second running back touchdown of the year for the Pats but he's been held to 21 yards or less each week.

Sammy Morris gained 138 yards and a score on 16 carries when the Broncos visited in 2008. BenJarvus Green-Ellis added 65 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries as well.

The Broncos rushing defense has been outstanding as well and has held all runners to 76 yards or less. The Cowboys last week only had 74 yards on 25 carries. There is a chance for a rushing score but as always, it is a coin flip between four different possibilities. I will consider the touchdown in the total score but will not award it to Laurence Maroney or Taylor since they both are bad risks this week.

Wide Receivers: Joey Galloway was a healthy scratch last week and it is obvious he is not a fit for the Patriots who have opted to use the rookie Julian Edelman instead. Wes Welker returned last week and had six catches for just 48 yards. But it was his first game back since the season opener when he had 10 receptions for 116 yards. Randy Moss scored for the first time this year when he had three catches for 50 yards against the Ravens but he is well off his pace of 2007. With Brady a mere mortal again, these wide receivers are becoming perilously close to being average.

Moss converted five receptions into 69 yards and two scores against the Broncos last year. Welker added 63 yards and a touchdown on his six catches.

The Broncos have been very successful against wideouts and rank #2 in the league currently. But OchoCinco had 89 yards to open the year and even Braylon Edwards turned in 92 yards on six catches against them. This will not be a big game for either Welker or Moss but they should still provide fantasy relevant numbers this week. I'm not projecting any of them are scoring this week since they have only one touchdown scored by a wideout the entire season. How un-Patriot is that?

Tight Ends: Ben Watson continues to enjoy a small revival. He had two scores in the season opener and cooled down promptly but has still had at least 23 yards per week and turned in 51 yards on two receptions last Sunday. I am crediting Watson with the passing score but he's not much safer a bet than any other receiver.

Watson caught three passes for 40 yards against the Broncos last year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 13 13 18 7 2 25
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 1 6 2 2 1 4


Denver Broncos (4-0)
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  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 17-10 +3 43
5 NE - +3.5 41.5
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 NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     220,1
RB Knowshon Moreno 80 10  
TE Tony Scheffler   30  
WR Brandon Marshall   60,1  
WR Eddie Royal   30  
WR Jabar Gaffney   40  
PK Matt Prater 3 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: What does it say when the Broncos are 4-0 and yet are the underdogs for the third time this season? Their offense has been at least marginally effective but the defense has been nothing short of stellar in allowing only about seven points per game. You do not need much offense when your defense can do that. Heck, if you can get a score from your defense you may not need any offense at all. After opening with three wins over lesser opponents, the Broncos sent the Cowboys back to Dallas with their hats in their hand. Now comes the meat of the schedule and the true test of this apparent defense for the ages.

Quarterback: Kyle Orton comes off his best effort of the season when he passed for 243 yards and two scores but 51 yards came when Brandon Marshall turned a short pass into a pinball-esque dash to the goal line. More important than Orton's passing is that he has not lost a fumble or thrown an interception this year. Not one. He has thrown for at least one score in every game and remained above 240 yards in three of four efforts.

The Broncos only passed for 169 yards and a score against the Pats last year.

The Pats have allowed at least one passing score in three of four games this year so look for Orton to pull his standard game again this week.

Running Backs: The Broncos have been getting a nice effort from the combination of Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno but the duo will be split this week since Buckhalter suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cowboys and will miss at least one week if not two. That should advance Lamont Jordan into a heavier workload but give Moreno the biggest share that he deserves. Moreno is still searching for his first 100 yard rushing effort but has scored in both of the most recent games.

The Broncos only rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries in New England last season.

The Patriots have been good against running backs again this year and their ranking is skewed by two scores that runners made via a catch against them. Otherwise there has only been one touchdown run on the Pats and all but one runner has been held to less than 60 yards. Look for a decent game here by Moreno but not a big one and likely without a score.

Wide Receivers: Brandon Marshall continues to shine with scores thanks to a touchdown catch in each of the last two games. His yardage has improved thanks to long runs after the catch and he's been above average every week and deserves to be a fantasy starter. Playing well this week will go a long ways into making Marshall a confident choice for Orton. Meanwhile, all other wideouts here are relatively worthless and have no fantasy prospects. Eddie Royal has a total of just eight catches for 58 yards total over the last four games.

Marshall caught six passes for 77 yards against the Pats last year and Royal added 71 yards on nine receptions.

The Patriots have been very good against the pass and wideouts in particular since only one has scored and more end up with less than 50 yards. Marshall is the only player here who matters anyway and should be held in check for most of the game. Figure on getting moderate yardage but a chance for a score since that is where Orton always looks and Marshall is the only player who has shown a knack for scoring anyway.

Tight Ends: The Broncos use both Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler but neither player has more than 40 yards in a game and usually much less. Scheffler has one score so far.

Daniel Graham scored once on his two catches for 27 yards versus the Pats last year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 24 6 16 23 7 7
Preventing Fantasy Points    NE 11 16 6 13 8 12

The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CHI
Monday
SD
GB
NO
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