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

Prediction: SD 27, DAL 24

The Chargers are on a seven game winning streak with an offense that has never failed to score at least 21 points per game. They are 5-1 on the road and lead the Broncos by one game in the AFC West. The Cowboys fall to 8-4 with their loss to the Giants and return home where they are 5-1 on the year. The Chargers are due for a loss with seven wins in a row but the Cowboys annual "losing of the wheels" in December appears to have already kicked off.

San Diego Chargers (9-3)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 24-20 -9.5 43
2 BAL 26-31 -5 40.5
3 MIA 23-13 -6 42
4 @PIT 28-38 +6.5 43
5 BYE - - -
6 DEN 23-34 -3.5 44
7 @KC 37-7 -5.5 44
8 OAK 24-16 -16 41.5
9 @NYG 21-20 +4 47.5
10 PHI 31-23 -1 47
11 @DEN 32-3 -6.5 41.5
12 KC 43-14 -13 44.5
13 @CLE 30-23 -13.5 42.5
14 @DAL - +3 48
15 CIN - - -
16 @TEN - - -
17 WAS - - -
SD at DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     250,2
RB Ladainian Tomlinson 60,1 10  
TE Antonio Gates   60,1  
WR Malcolm Floyd   50  
WR Vincent Jackson   60,1  
WR Legedu Naanee   20  
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: Outside of the Colts or Saints, no team is as hot as the Chargers who have been cranking out the 30+ point games for the last month. Remaining one game ahead of the Broncos will be tough with road trips to Dallas and Nashville and a home stand against the Bengals. The Chargers are relatively healthy now and ready for the stretch run.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers is now up to 21 passing scores on the season and has topped 300 passing yards four times including the last two games. Rivers remains one of the top passers in the league and yet has only thrown six interceptions and none in the last four games.

Going against the Cowboys should translated into two passing scores since Rivers normally does as much and the Cowboys defense has allowed similar quarterbacks two scores but never three in any game this year. Expect healthy yardage here that could grow big if it turns into a shootout. Dallas has not allowed more than 256 passing yards over the last ten games.

Running Backs: The Chargers are quietly using three different backs in every game but LaDainian Tomlinson remains the primary back who has scored in five of the last six games and he has nine rushing touchdowns on the season. Tomlinson still has not produced a 100 rushing yard game and is rarely used as a receiver. He's bounced around 50 or 60 rushing yards in most games.

Darren Sproles gets six or eight carries in most weeks and does very little with them but he had a touchdown via a reception last week and has been a bigger factor as a receiver. But outside of the Browns matchup or playing the Chiefs, Sproles has been only a bit player in the offense. He is not worth projecting for anymore.

The Chargers are also getting points out of fullback Mike Tolbert who has scored in three of the last four games despite rarely getting more than two touches per game.

The Cowboys have not allowed a runner to exceed 100 yards against them this year and only one tailback has rushed in a score in Dallas. But Tomlinson is on a roll and the Chargers offense is so diverse that no team can load up against the run at the goal line. It will be a rarity, but I like one rushing score here and the typical mediocre rushing yards from Tomlinson.

Wide Receivers: Vincent Jackson was red hot this year but has seriously cooled down for the last month with no scores and never more than 56 yards in a game. He had seven touchdowns over the first eight weeks but has been handled by every secondary including the same ones that he burned earlier in the year. His production has largely gone to Antonio Gates in recent games. Malcolm Floyd has settled into being just another possession guy who rarely tops 50 yards in a game.

The Cowboys secondary can certainly be beaten by a good quarterback and has most often been victimized by the opponents #1 receiver. I am projecting a score for Jackson despite his dry spell because the Cowboys are weaker on the corners than in the linebackers so the Chargers won't be as likely to rely on Sproles or Tolbert as a receiver.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates had gone almost the entire season with about 50 yards per game and never scoring but in the last two weeks he has scored twice and had over 100 yards in both games. His 167 yards on eight catches in Cleveland was a career best. The Cowboys ranks average against tight ends but mainly because they face so few of the elite players. I like the recently back in form Gates to catch a score in this game.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 9 8 20 3 1 6
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 19 13 17 11 4 11

Dallas Cowboys (8-4)
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 24-7 -13.5 40.5
13 @NYG 24-31 -1 45.5
14 SD - -3 48
15 @NO - - -
16 @WAS - - -
17 PHI - - -
DAL vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     260,2
RB Marion Barber 50    
RB Felix Jones 50,1 10  
TE Jason Witten   70,1  
WR Roy Williams   40  
WR Patrick Crayton   30  
WR Miles Austin   80,1  
PK Nick Folk 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys offense has struggled in the past five games with never more than 24 points scored and that inability to keep pace is going to be a factor this week and again next week in New Orleans. The Cowboys remain one game ahead of the Eagles and Giants but a tough set of games left on the schedule will make holding that lead tough to do. A win here would be a major plus to the psyche but the loss in New York already has all fans and the media saying "here we go again."

Quarterback: At least Tony Romo is not being part of the problem. He has topped 300 passing yards for the last two weeks and thrown five touchdowns between the two games. He has scored in each of the last eight weeks and has only thrown three interceptions over the last ten games.

Romo goes against a secondary that usually allowed one or two passing scores against them. I like this game to force Romo to throw later in the game and he should have some success thanks to the home venue.

Running Backs: The rushing attack that was so effective earlier in the season has deteriorated with only nine rushing touchdowns this year and has scored only once in the last four weeks. Marion Barber has not scored since week eight and is mired in sub-60 yard games has has a declining yards per carry over recent weeks. Tashard Choice has always been productive when give the chance but now is limited to running the wildcat formation two or three times per week.

Felix Jones as the home run hitter should be better this week since he has been a complete flop in every road game but has been far more productive at home. This week the Cowboys face a defense that has been weaker against running backs though more from allowing scores and receptions than actual rushing yardage. I like Jones to score again because he is going to be back at home while Barber has been nearly robotic in his mundane running as of late.

Wide Receivers: Miles Austin is taking a chair at the big boy's table. Going against solid secondaries in the last two games has not prevented him from topping 100 yards or scoring. He has nine touchdowns on the season and that is eight in the last eight games. Roy Williams has also stepped up in recent weeks with two scores in New York and other against the Raiders but he's wildly inconsistent with yardage and only had two catches for 15 yards in the two games previous to last Sunday.

The Chargers have one of the better secondaries in the league and have allowed only two players to exceed 100 receiving yards against them and only eight receiving scores to wideouts. The Cowboys will constantly move players around to get better matchups so there is no reason to count Austin out this week. There should be a score to a wideout that that has to favor Austin.

Tight Ends: After being little used for the first 11 weeks, Jason Witten has made up lost time with 19 catches for 263 yards over the last two games and his 14 receptions in New York were a career best. The offense is starting to settle to using Witten more and the Chargers are weaker against the position than they are the wideouts. Look for another very nice game this week with a chance of a touchdown.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 10 16 9 6 17 21
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 8 25 9 15 16 2

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