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

Prediction: DAL 17, NO 31

The Cowboys have lost two in a row and at 8-5 have lost control of the NFC East to the Eagles. The Cowboys are only 3-3 in road games. The Saints march towards perfection continues unabated despite so many close calls that you wonder if this is one way the man upstairs is saying "sorry about that Katrina thing."

Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
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 17-20 -3.5 48.5
15 @NO - +7 53
16 @WAS - - -
17 PHI - - -
DAL at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     270,2
RB Marion Barber 50    
RB Felix Jones 20 10  
TE Jason Witten   50  
WR Roy Williams   70,1  
WR Patrick Crayton   50  
WR Miles Austin   90,1  
PK Nick Folk 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys not only have to deal with the curse of December - apparently alive and well - but now they will be without their best defender DeMarcus Ware who is out with a neck sprain. And to make it a bit worse, Nick Folk has missed six of his last nine field goals and has to compete with David Buehler who is the official Kicker-Offer for the team. Making matters even worse is facing the Saints in New Orleans, then traveling to Washington to face the Redskins who are always a problem and then back home to host the Eagles in what could be the battle for the NFC East or just the last gasp before the Cowboys are sent home for January. Again.

Quarterback: In fantasy terms, Tony Romo has been on fire in recent weeks with 250+ yards and at least two scores for the last three weeks. He has not thrown an interception since week 11 and cannot be blamed for the Giants loss when he passed for 392 yards and three scores with no turnovers. But Romo has not been a difference maker, at best he holds up his end and hopes everyone else does the same.

He also goes to New Orleans this week where there have only been three passing touchdowns allowed all year. Just three. Granted, most were not top quarterbacks and even Tom Brady has not been himself lately. I like the Cowboys to throw for one score like every one else because the Saints will respect and defend the pass. There is a chance that Romo could throw for two but that is more likely in a late game trash time. Romo should end with very healthy yardage though from a game that will eventually get away from the Cowboys.

Running Backs: This week we are back to the same problem. The Cowboys do not run on the road. Felix Jones has never had more than 22 yards in any road game this year. He has not been a factor as a receiver in any game so far. Marion Barber's inability to punch in a one-yard touchdown was defended by HC Wade Phillips but Barber has been a near non-factors since midseason. He has only one touchdown in the last nine games and on the road been capped around 50 rushing yards.

The only running back that has scored in a road game since week four has been Tashard Choice who has been all but phased out of the offense by now.

The Cowboys will want to establish the run and could have minor success with it. The Saints have allowed eight rushing scores to visitors this year but who on Dallas can score? Choice is not being used. Jones disappears in every single road game with no exceptions. Barber is playing more like a miscast fullback who lacks the ability to punch it in. Low confidence on any element of the rushing game this week.

Wide Receivers: Have to believe the happiest man in the country is Miles Austin's agent. Austin has now caught ten touchdowns this season and had four efforts over 100 yards. He didn't even start until week five. So far he has been as good as any Cowboys receiver ever. There. I said it. Granted there is a huge difference between nine games and an entire career but Austin has been the lone aspect of the offense that has pretty much always worked. Roy Williams has been productive lately and dropped fewer passes but is still not above the occasional bad game. Patrick Crayton's job is to want every three games for the defense to stop looking and then catch a touchdown on his only catch in the game. He scored last week so no hope for Sunday.

The Saints have only allowed three passing scores to a wideout in New Orleans. But the Cowboys are going to be throwing quite a bit in the second half and both Williams and Austin are good plays this week.

Tight Ends: After two straight weeks of 100+ yards, Jason Witten rewarded all the new believers with a jump back to his standard 50 yards per game. No reason to expect more this week against a top ten defense against the position and Witten has not scored since week two.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 8 17 9 6 19 24
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 6 21 26 8 24 7

New Orleans Saints (13-0)
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 38-17 -3 56
13 @WAS 33-30 -9 46.5
14 @ATL 26-23 -10 50.5
15 DAL - -7 53
16 TB - - -
17 @CAR - - -
NO vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     310,3
RB Pierre Thomas 40 30  
RB Mike Bell 30    
RB Reggie Bush 40 30,1  
TE Jeremy Shockey   40  
WR Marques Colston   70,1  
WR Devery Henderson   50  
WR Robert Meachem   70,1  
PK Garrett Hartley 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Saints can clinch this weekend with a win and a loss by the Vikings to Carolina - probably not happening. But next week hosting the Buccaneers is their chance to clinch and do so during fantasy football championships. The Saints have already said they intend to play the season out anyway and go for perfection. This weekend is the biggest challenge remaining. After this one, the Saints are looking to log 16-0.

All things considered, it may violate the natural order of things if there is no defensive score here.

Quarterback: As if you needed any more good news about Drew Brees, he is currently leading in the Pro Bowl balloting and a nice showing this week only helps his case. If you can remember back that far, six weeks ago Brees only had one passing touchdown. He has thrown multiples in every game since and has a total of a mere 32 passing touchdowns. His last four home games have never seen less than 300 passing yards and shared a total of 12 touchdowns. Brees tends to ramp up the yards and scoring in home games against the better teams.

Start him. Dallas never failed to allow a road opponent to throw for at least one score and Brees may be better than Byron Leftwich was.

Running Backs: The running back picture once again gets cloudier with Mike Bell slated to return this week and he had accounted for about 14 carries per week prior to his sprained knee. Pierre Thomas did not do much more with Bell out though he remains a force as a receiver as much as he is a runner. Reggie Bush is the one that had the explosion last week with two scores as a receiver and 79 total yards.

How that is distributed this week remains to be seen but the Saints will approach this game with guns a'blazing and that should see Reggie Bush get decent work after impressing HC Sean Payton last week. Bell is not worth a start but Thomas makes a marginal start because he has both rushing and receiving yards

The Cowboys have been very good against the run but will be without DeMarcus Ware and on the road just gave up two scores to Brandon Jacobs last week. The Saints running backs are all risky plays this week but will produce fantasy points in total.

Wide Receivers: Robert Meachem broke his five game scoring streak but still had 57 yards in Atlanta. Marques Colston turned in his ninth score of the year there and has scored in each of the last three games though his yardage totals have not been that high since around mid-season. Devery Henderson remains a solid #3 but has only scored twice this year.

The Cowboys have been dinged by wideouts in the past though more from the start of the season. Then again - this is one of the best offenses in the league at home. Expect the Saints to once again have a standard carpet bombing game.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey has only marginal fantasy value with about 40 yards per game recently but no scores in the last eight games. He's only a bye week filler this year and the byes are over.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 2 5 10 4 1
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 19 12 18 13 7 8

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