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

Prediction: OAK 10, DAL 27

The Raiders come off another big trap game when they upset the visiting Steelers last week and rise to 3-7 on the season but are only 1-3 in road games. The Cowboys survived a scare by the Redskins last week and at 7-3 remain atop the NFC East with a record of 4-1 at home. Playing on Thanksgiving will favor the Cowboys this week since both teams will have less preparation time and must go with the talent they have in basic schemes.

Oakland Raiders (3-7)
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SD 20-24 +9.5 43
2 @KC 13-10 +4 41
3 DEN 3-23 +1.5 35.5
4 @HOU 6-29 +9.5 41
5 @NYG 7-44 +16.5 40.5
6 PHI 13-9 +14 40.5
7 NYJ 0-38 +6 34
8 @SD 16-24 +16 41.5
9 BYE - - -
10 KC 10-16 -1 37
11 CIN 20-17 +9 36
12 @DAL - +13.5 40.5
13 @PIT - - -
14 WAS - - -
15 @DEN - - -
16 @CLE - - -
17 BAL - - -
OAK at DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Bruce Gradkowski     150,1
RB Darren McFadden 30 10  
RB Justin Fargas 40 10  
TE Zach Miller   40,1  
WR Louis Murphy   40  
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins   20  
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey   20  
PK S. Janikowski 1 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The results were certainly positive for benching JaMarcus "Clueless" Russell and opting for Bruce Gradkowski who would barely ranks as back-up grade on most teams but shines as best in the position in Oakland. For all the rampant dysfunction on this team, the Raiders have a decent defense and potentially adequate rushing attack. The schedule from here on out will be murderous but at least the Raiders should conclude that Russell is just never going to be worth a start in the NFL. The first step in recovering is admitting your pricey quarterback is a lazy slug with questionable work ethic, intelligence and grasp on reality.

Quarterback: Let's see. In one start, Bruce Gradkowski threw for 182 yards and two scores against one of the best teams in the conference. That's more yardage than JaMarcus Russell had in all but two games and in just one game - just one game - Gradkowski has equaled the number of touchdowns thrown by Russell in nine games. Call it new love. Call it infatuation. But do not call Russell from the bench ever again.

The Cowboys have been coughing up two passing scores for most opposing quarterbacks but Oakland ushers in the worst passing attack in the NFL. Give him one passing score and if he throws two they should make Russell give him piggyback rides to the field and back from the lockerroom.

Running Backs: The Raiders are going with a three-headed monster now that has only scored five touchdowns this year and even in combination has marginal results. In two weeks back, Darren McFadden had only rushed ten times for 36 yards and explains why he was sitting there on your waiver wire a few weeks back. Forget the NFL draft and McFadden doesn't even have potential.

The Cowboys have only allowed one rushing score in Dallas and never more than 68 yards to a runner so forget the trio of futility this week.

Wide Receivers: Louis Murphy now has bookend touchdowns since he scored in week one and then again last week. And that is all the scoring that he or any Oakland wideout has done this year. And he only had one catch in the game. The addition of Gradkowski has helped some, but still has had really no effect on the worst wideouts in the NFL.

The Cowboys secondary is nothing special but may look like it on Thursday thanks to this group.

Tight Ends: At least Zach Miller has been improved with Gradkowski around. He comes off a five catch, 65 yard game against the Bengals with one touchdown. He has yet to score in a road game but has been marginally better away from Oakland. The lone passing score will likely end up here since the receivers likely won't improve away from Oakland.

Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 32 27 32 18 27 27
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 19 10 21 12 11 11

Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
Homefield: Cowboys 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 10-17 -3 43
5 @KC 26-20 -9 42.5
6 BYE - - -
7 ATL 37-21 -5.5 47.5
8 SEA 38-17 -10 46
9 @PHI 20-16 +3 47.5
10 @GB 7-17 -3 48
11 WAS 7-6 -11 41.5
12 OAK - -13.5 40.5
13 @NYG - - -
14 SD - - -
15 @NO - - -
16 @WAS - - -
17 PHI - - -
DAL vs OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     210,1
RB Marion Barber 100,1 10  
RB Felix Jones 60,1    
TE Jason Witten   40  
WR Roy Williams   30  
WR Patrick Crayton   50  
WR Miles Austin   60,1  
PK Nick Folk 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: With only seven points scored in each of the last two games, there's plenty of questions about the Cowboys offense but this unit had been scoring very well at home until the Redskins showed up. This week is as easy as it gets for the rest of the year so the Cowboys have to take advantage of the Raiders before heading out ten days later to play the Giants.

Quarterback: Tony Romo suffered a strained back when he was kneed on an interception return tackle last Sunday but by all reports he will be playing on Thursday and missed no time from the game last week. Romo has scored in each of the last six games but only had one touchdown in each of the last three weeks. He had been good for 250+ passing yards as well until the Redskins showed up. Prior to that his best two games had been at home.

The Raiders have usually allowed one passing score per game but only once has an an opponent thrown for two. That in part reflects on teams preferring to run against them. Look for a solid effort from Romo but only one touchdown pass and a sore back means handing off will be easier.

Running Backs: The Cowboys did not use the "wildcat" formation last week so Tashard Choice had almost no work against the Redskins. Felix Jones had his best effort since week three but that was only 49 yards on ten carries and he just never gets the volume that would result in any significant stats. Marion Barber has only scored once in the last six games and while he had 99 yards on 20 carries last week, he had been on a six-week streak of remaining below 60 yards. Playing at home helps Barber significantly.

The Raiders bring in one of the worst rush defenses and this is where the Cowboys will exploit them. The Raiders have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns this year and four times a runner has scored more than once against them. Barber should have one of his better games here against a defense that gives up over 4.5 yards per carry and 144 rushing yards per game. Even Jones should have one of his best efforts in this game.

Wide Receivers: Just when it seemed that Roy Williams was getting back into gear he had no catches last week. He drew criticism from his missed over the middle of the field where he short-armed a few passes rather than lay out for a potentially big hit. The problem is the Cowboys want Williams to succeed and keep trying to make it happen despite lackluster results. Patrick Crayton scored last week but it was his only catch of the game. Miles Austin has gone two weeks without a score or even more than 50 yards in a game since he has been a marked man.

This week will depend a bit on what the Oakland secondary does. Nnamdi Asomugha should draw Roy Williams which would undoubtedly shut him down and let the rest of the secondary worry about Austin. I like one passing touchdown here and eventually Austin should get free for a score.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten is still the machine. Gets five catches for around 40 or 50 yards every week and never scores. The Raiders have not allowed any tight end to score this year either so consider Witten a weak play this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 12 16 12 14 16 18
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 14 30 10 1 30 24

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