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

Prediction: OAK 3, DEN 27

Friday Night Update: Buckhalter is listed as doubtful and is not expected to play.

Thursday Night Update: As expected, Correll Buckhalter has not practiced so far and probably will not play since it is a high ankle sprain.

The Raiders sink to 4-9 after their loss to the Redskins and head to Denver with a 2-4 road record. The Broncos slipped to 8-5 with their defeat by the Colts and are 4-2 at home. The Broncos won 23-3 in Oakland during week three.

Oakland Raiders (4-9)
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 7-24 +13.5 40.5
13 @PIT 27-24 +14.5 37
14 WAS 13-34 +1 37.5
15 @DEN - +13.5 37
16 @CLE - - -
17 BAL - - -
OAK at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB JaMarcus Russell     120
RB Darren McFadden 20 10  
RB Justin Fargas 50 10  
TE Zach Miller   20  
WR Louis Murphy   40  
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins   30  
PK S. Janikowski 1 FG    
Pregame Notes: The Raiders beat the Bengals and then beat the Steelers - in Pittsburgh no less - but then crumbled against the Redskins for one main reason. When Bruce Gradkowski left the game injured, the hail of boos greeted JaMarcus "white flag" Russell who proceeded to be sacked eight times and threw one interception. The difference is noticeable if not profound using Russell. And the Raiders look like they will go out with a whimper.

Quarterback: It is reported that Bruce Gradkowski partially tore one MCL and completely tore the other during the Redskins game and while HC Tom Cable calls him "day to day", the expectation is that he will be out this week if not the rest of the year. That means choosing between Charlie Fry and Jamarcus Russell of which the difference is minimal and meaningless to the result of the game. I will assume that Russell gets another start to the delight of Denver fans all over the world. Like an early Christmas gift.

In the last meeting with the Broncos, Russell played the entire game and produced 61 passing yards with two interceptions. And that wasn't even his worst game of the year. Under no circumstance is Russell an attractive start this week.

Running Backs: Last week Michael Bush finally had zero plays and has officially been ignored by Tom Cable who never liked him in the first place. That leaves just Darren McFadden who has not gained more than 25 rushing yards since week three. He did have a freak 84 yards on three catches last week but that was roughly the same as his total from his other eight games played this year.

Justin Fargas scored last week for the third time this year but still is stuck at 65 yards or less per game. In the first meeting with the Broncos, Fargas had eight rushing yards while McFadden led the Raiders with 45 rushing yards.

Do not start either runner. Raiders are weaker against the run but not nearly as weak as the Raiders already are.

Wide Receivers: What appeared to be a revival of the passing game with Gradkowski is now back to being the worst show in the league. In the first meeting with the Broncos on favorable home turf, Darrius Heyward-Bey had no catches, Louis Murphy had 25 yards on two receptions and no other wideout had any passes thrown to him. Expect a near blanking of this unit which will only serve to set up interceptions.

Tight Ends: Zach Miller did not finish the Redskins game because of a stinger but is expected to play this week with no limitation other than his quarterback is probably JaMarcus Russell. Miller caught two passes for 17 yards in the first meeting with the Broncos.

Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 32 27 32 18 28 30
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 3 15 5 4 17 11

Denver Broncos (8-5)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  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 20-17 +3.5 41.5
6 @SD 34-23 +3.5 44
7 BYE - - -
8 @BAL 7-30 +4.5 42.5
9 PIT 10-28 +3 49
10 @WAS 17-27 -3.5 36
11 SD 3-32 +6.5 41.5
12 NYG 26-6 +6.5 42
13 @KC 44-13 -6 39
14 @IND 16-28 6.5 43.5
15 OAK - -13.5 37
16 @PHI - - -
17 KC - - -
DEN vs OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     190,1
RB Knowshon Moreno 120,1 10  
TE Tony Scheffler   10  
WR Brandon Marshall   50,1  
WR Eddie Royal   40  
WR Brandon Stokley   20  
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The loss to the Colts was not surprising but still hurt since it keeps the Broncos two games behind the Chargers with only three left to play. This week and the season finale hosting the Chiefs should be AFC West gifts for the holidays but the road trip to play the Eagles will likely be a problem. Two more wins gets the Broncos to 10-6 on the season and that alone is probably enough to get a wildcard.

I love a defensive score in this game.

Quarterback: Kyle Orton has thrown for two scores in both of the most recent games and even had his second best game of the year when he threw for 277 yards in Indianapolis with two scores. But he's been much less productive in other games and even only produced 157 yards and one score in the previous meeting with the Raiders. Orton's numbers never rise unless he is in a game that the Broncos are losing and that is highly unlikely this week.

Expect just a moderate game and one passing touchdown.

Running Backs: Correll Buckhalter injured his ankle last week and was on crutches after the game. It was also the other ankle from the one that he hurt earlier in the year so this is a new injury. Until he is cleared, I am assuming that he does not play and that lets Knowshon Moreno take a full load this week. Peyton Hillis may figure in but but without Buckhalter around, this could be the Moreno show and against a rather soft rushing defense as well.

Case in point - Buckhalter racked up 108 yards on 14 carries in Oakland back in week three while Moreno gained 90 yards on 21 runs and scored his first NFL touchdown. Moreno had already been on a nice streak of 85+ yard games prior to last week and would greatly enjoy the Raiders.

If no one else in this game, start Moreno who should log his first ever 100 yard rushing game.

Wide Receivers: Brandon Marshall comes off his NFL record 21 receptions for 200 yards and two scores last week and while he will be pitted against Nnamdi Asomugha this week, he still had five catches for 67 yards and a score against the Raiders in the first meeting. No one else on this team is capable of contributing anything meaningful this year but Marshall is obviously capable of doing it all alone. Marshall is not likely to have a big game here by any means and could be blanked by both the defensive effort and the lack of need to throw the ball.

I am projecting a score for Marshall but the confidence level is low. He did score versus the Raiders in week three.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler just had a game with no catches and he has been a nonfactor in all but one game this year. No reason to consider him this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 22 21 13 22 10 4
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 16 29 15 3 28 24

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