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

Prediction: NE 27, NO 31

Update: Reggie Bush has been limited in practice but is likely to play on Monday night at least in a limited role. He's a risk to rely on this week since he won't be 100%. Sammy Morris has been limited in practice and may play but will be a game time decision. Julian Edelman was held out of practice on Friday and was limited on Thursday. He'll be sharing with Isaiah Stanbach in the best case and is not 100% healthy. No need to change his minimal projections.

Here's a Monday night game sure to attract some viewers. The Patriots lead the AFC East by two games with a 7-3 mark but are only 1-3 in road games this year. The Saints 10-0 record keeps them one game ahead of the Vikings for a homefield advantage in the playoffs but the Saints spent three weeks nearly losing until demolishing the Buccaneers last Sunday. This should be the toughest game left on the schedule for either team. Neither team has to have this win. Both will really, really want to get it anyway.

If the good Lord enjoys football at all, he will not let this turn into some 14-10 game but give us the fireworks that seemingly are ready to be lit.


New England Patriots (7-3)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  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 17-20 -3.5 41.5
6 TEN 59-0 -9.5 43
7 @TB 35-7 -15.5 44.5
8 BYE BYE - -
9 MIA 27-17 -10.5 47
10 @IND 34-35 +1 48
11 NYJ 31-14 -10.5 45
12 @NO - +3 56
13 @MIA - - -
14 CAR - - -
15 @BUF - - -
16 JAC - - -
17 @HOU - - -
NE at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     300,2
RB Laurence Maroney 50,1    
TE Ben Watson   30  
WR Randy Moss   110,1  
WR Wes Welker   100,1  
WR Julian Edelman   30  
PK Stephen Gostowski 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Pats rebounded very well after the heartbreaking loss in Indianapolis and crushing the Jets always makes the Pats feel better. The road trip to Miami on the other side of this week is actually a more important game but Brady, Moss and Belichick enjoy the lights of Monday night. The Pats organization took several media hits about Belichick not trusting the defense back in the Colts game. This week he has no choice.

Quarterback: Tom Brady has thrown for over 300 yards in each of the last five games and had most of his best efforts come in road games. He passed for 375 yards and three scores in Indianapolis and had 308 yards and three scores in Tampa Bay. Aside from his monster six-touchdown game against the visiting Titans, Brady always does more on the road.

The Saints secondary has been vastly upgraded and only allowed eight passing touchdowns on the season but the Saints have also faced a lighter schedule than most and in recent weeks have lost numerous secondary players which was less a factors against the Panthers, Rams and Buccaneers than it will be this week. Expect yet another solid showing by Brady.

Running Backs: Laurence Maroney has certainly made the most of his opportunity since Fred Taylor left. He has scored in each of the last five games including twice against the Jets last Sunday. Granted - his yardage has not bee impressive and in road games has not been over 45 yards but he has been consistently scoring.

The Saints have allowed 11 rushing scores this year and most of those in recent weeks. It is unlikely that Maroney will have a big game here but a score is well within the trends of both teams.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss has scored in four of the last five games but was held, once again, to minimal yardage by Darrelle Revis last week. Moss has scored eight times on the season and has five games that have exceeded 100 yards. Wes Welker comes off a personal best and team record 15 catches for 192 yards last week. Welker has not dipped below 84 yards since week three and while he has been less consistent scoring, his catches and yardage each game is always solid. Julian Edelman is starting to share some time with Isaiah Stanbach who was the ex-quarterback turned wideout by the Cowboys who released him earlier this year.

The Saints have only allowed three receivers to score in New Orleans but again -the quality of opponents have been less than challenging. Consider the Giants got 198 yards and two scores from their wideouts in New Orleans and Roddy White turned in 108 yards on four catches with one touchdown there. The banged up secondary will make this be a profitable game for both Moss and Welker.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson has four scores on the year but none since week seven and has been just handing in around 30 yards almost every week. The Saints have not allowed any tight ends to score all year long so leave Watson on your bench.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 2 10 1 20 2 12
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 5 20 16 8 17 16

New Orleans Saints (10-0)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DET 45-27 -13.5 49
2 @PHI 48-22 +3 46.5
3 @BUF 27-7 -5.5 52.5
4 NYJ 24-10 -6.5 46
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG 48-27 -3 47
7 @MIA 46-34 -6 48
8 ATL 35-27 -10 54
9 CAR 30-20 -14 52
10 @STL 28-23 -14 50.5
11 @TB 38-7 -10.5 51
12 NE - -3 56
13 @WAS - - -
14 @ATL - - -
15 DAL - - -
16 TB - - -
17 @CAR - - -
NO vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     310,3
RB Pierre Thomas 60,1 10  
RB Mike Bell 20 10  
RB Reggie Bush 20 20,1  
TE Jeremy Shockey   30  
WR Marques Colston   100,1  
WR Devery Henderson   70  
WR Robert Meachem   50,1  
PK John Carney 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Saints kept nudging closer to losing every week like they were barely staying awake after Thanksgiving dinner but they woke up plenty last week and decimated the Buccaneers. This is a prime time game so both teams want to show up well and the Saints cannot afford a loss thanks to the 9-1 Vikings. The offense should be healthy again with Reggie Bush returning and unlike previous seasons, this game is not predicated solely on how well the Pats can stop the pass. The Saints have produced more running backs fantasy points than any other team. Pick your poison.

Quarterback: Drew Brees has been as good as 358 yards and six scores or as bad as 172 yards and no touchdowns. And most points in between. And still the Saints are undefeated. The key to Brees' productivity is simply the need to throw in the game. These Saints have not been challenged by any team with a top passing attack all year long. That partially reflects in the rushing totals for the Saints. But rushing is not going to get it done this week.

The Patriots have only allowed three rushing scores all year and have been very good against the run. They have been equally good against the pass but like the Saints have faced a lot of poor passing teams. Manning had 327 yards and four scores in week 10. It can be done and Brees is not going to win this game by handing off. Look for a very nice showing and three scores. You're going to start him regardless.

Running Backs: The Saints combine for a the best rushing attack in fantasy football but short of using "team running backs" instead of individuals it is not always easy to pick the right individuals each week. Reggie Bush had his best game of the year when he scored twice and had 98 yards against the Rams but then missed last week because of a sore knee. Mike Bell got an increase in workload and ended with his best game of the year of 80 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile Pierre Thomas has not score in the last two weeks after logging three touchdowns in the previous two matchups. It has almost always happened, but who does it is hard to say week to week. Bush returns for Monday night to make it all the less predictable.

Bell was dinged up a bit last week and when Bush plays, Bell usually has minimal impact. I like one rushing score here even though the Pats have only allowed three all year long.

Wide Receivers: Marques Colston has been quiet for three weeks now with nary a score and minimal yardage but he had six scores over the first seven games and has tended to be de-emphasized in easy games. Recently he had one catch against the Panthers, two receptions against the Rams and five catches for 74 yards last week in Tampa Bay. But his best games have all come in his toughest matchups like @PHI (8-98, 2 TD), NYG (8-166, 1 TD) and ATL (6-85, 1 TD). His recent cold spell isn't a trend, he is just waiting.

Robert Meachem has now scored in each of the last three games and Brees has taken a liking to him in the end zone. Meachem has four scores in the last three weeks but only 8 catches for 135 yards over that time.

The Patriots show up with an above average secondary but invariably the guy who scores against them is the #1 from the opponent - Reggie Wayne (10-126, 2 TD), Antonio Bryant (2-51, TD) and Brandon Marshall (8-64, 2 TD) are examples on the road. Add in that the Saints have a better passing attack than all of them save perhaps the Colts and no worries starting your Saints this week.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey is better at home but still rarely every gets more than 50 yards in a week and has only one score since the season opener. He's a marginal start any week.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 4 1 10 11 6 1
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 7 5 11 7 1 3

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