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

Prediction: SD 20, TEN 24

This should be one of the most interesting games this week. The Chargers are on a nine game winning streak and while they have already locked up the AFC West, they need to win at least one more to ensure a first round bye. The Chargers are 6-1 in road games. The Titans are only 7-7 but that is really 7-1 over the last eight games and they are 5-2 at home and won their last five matchups there. The Titans are out of the playoff race but hardly playing like games do not matter.

San Diego Chargers (11-3)
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 20-17 +3.5 48.5
15 CIN 27-24 -6.5 44
16 @TEN - +3 47
17 WAS - - -
SD at TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     280,2
RB Ladainian Tomlinson 50 20  
TE Antonio Gates   70,1  
WR Malcolm Floyd   50  
WR Vincent Jackson   90,1  
WR Legedu Naanee   30  
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: At worst the Chargers can wrap up the #2 seed with the season finale over the visiting Redskins who have apparently thrown in the towel already. The season already looks like yet another year where the playoffs come down to a game between them and the Colts and it is hard to argue with how well the Chargers have been playing. This should be the toughest matchup since the bye week.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers has scored in every game this year and he already has 25 passing touchdowns against only nine interceptions. Rivers has remained above 270 passing yards in each of the last four games though his touchdown totals are higher in home games.

This week will be interesting since the Titans have never allowed more than one passing touchdown in the last five home games and twice held the opponent to no scores. None of those opponents were as good as Rivers though so this is a test for both teams. In the four most recent road trips, the Titans have allowed over 270 passing yards and 11 scores. It happens that those were also the better quarterbacks that they have faced.

Figure on Rivers for a couple of scores in this game and healthy pass yardage. This could end up as a shootout depending on how well the Chargers can contain Chris Johnson.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson had his five game scoring streak end last week when the Bengals held him to only 59 yards on 16 carries. Tomlinson turned in four catches for 58 yards in that game as a surprise since he had never been good for more than one catch or so in any game this year. His yardage has been mediocre every week but his fantasy value was buoyed by his touchdowns. He only had 670 rushing yards on the season on 205 attempts but has scored ten rushing touchdowns.

The Titans have been outstanding against the run when at home and only had one runner gain more than 80 yards. There is always a chance he could score a touchdown here but it's probably less than 50/50. The question is more if they will continue to use Tomlinson as a receiver or if last week was just a one game thing.

One piece of irony here - Tomlinson plays against the stud running back who is taking the torch from him in the fantasy world.

Wide Receivers: Vincent Jackson had a four game slide with minimal stats and no scores but then picked it back up with 120 yards in Dallas and then 108 yards and two scores against the visiting Bengals. By this point, it is getting hard only to explain why he doesn't top 100 yards every week - he has done it six times already. His score last week was also his first since week nine. Jackson is the only wideout that matters on this team. Malcolm Floyd has one score on the year and averages around 40 yards per game while Legedu Naanee does about half that much.

The Titans secondary has been good against wideouts for more than a month but have not faced many decent receivers visiting Tennessee. It has been a freak of the schedule that home games have faced weak offenses but good passing teams have been very successful against them. No reason to sit Vincent Jackson this week - the team will need him more than ever.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates has been solid enough all year but recently has scored four times over the last four games. The Titans have been generally good against tight ends this year but the last two visitors to Tennessee both had a tight end score.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 9 8 18 4 1 9
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 31 20 32 26 24 5

Tennessee Titans (7-7)
Homefield: LP Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @PIT 10-13 +5 37
2 HOU 31-34 -7 40.5
3 @NYJ 17-24 +2.5 37
4 @JAC 17-37 -3 41.5
5 IND 9-31 +3.5 46.5
6 @NE 0-59 +9.5 43
7 BYE - - -
8 JAC 30-13 -3 44
9 @SF 34-27 +4 41
10 BUF 41-17 -9 41
11 @HOU 20-17 +4 48.5-
12 ARI 20-17 -3.5 44.5
13 @IND 17-27 +6 47
14 STL 47-7 -13.5 40
15 MIA 27-24 -4.5 42.5
16 SD - -3 47
17 @SEA - - -
TEN vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Vince Young     220,2
RB Chris Johnson 140,1 20  
TE Bo Scaife   50  
WR Justin Gage   50  
WR Nate Washington   30,1  
WR Kenny Britt   50,1  
PK Rob Bironas 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Titans held off the Dolphins last week and if they can win out they get a winning record for a team that started 0-6 on the season. With a final game in Seattle, a .500 record should be in the bag so this week is truly the Super Bowl for the Titans - or at least as close as they will come. There's not only pride to play for, there is an NFL record best recovery from a 0-6 start and the specter of having a 2000 yard rusher that keeps the team motivated.

Quarterback: Vince Young not only was able to play on his bad hamstring, but turned in his best game of the year in the win over the Dolphins. He passed for 236 yards and threw three touchdowns. He has scored in every start this year but only once had more than one touchdown. He even ran for 24 yards on two runs despite his sore hamstring. For a player that took the bench last year during a very odd situation, he has completely turned around and won back the entire team.

The Chargers have not faced any runner like Chris Johnson and that should slant them away from the pass enough to allow Young to have at least a decent showing here. The Chargers have allowed multiple passing scores in three of the last four road games and big yardage to most teams. This game will be heavy on the run of course but Young is a moderate start this week.

Running Backs: Chris Johnson needs to average 188 rushing yards per game over the final two weeks to hit Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 yards. He can break 2000 yards with 135 yards per game and considering the finale is in Seattle, that is not impossible. He also remains on pace to break Marshall Faulk's all-time yardage mark of 2429 total yards. This is a good year to be Chris Johnson.

The Chargers rank well against the run but have not faced almost any good runners. Rashard Mendenhall had 165 yards and two scores against them but no runner in a road game has scored on the Chargers since then. Johnson is an automatic fantasy start of course and should post better numbers this week than the past stats may suggest for the Chargers defense.

Wide Receivers: Vince Young had been connecting well with the rookie Kenny Britt but last week saw Britt only manage two catches for 32 yards. Britt had been on a nice five game streak that had three touchdowns and around 50 or more yards. But instead of using Britt again, Justin Gage caught two touchdowns on just two passes for 43 yards. And Nate Washington also had just one catch - for the third touchdown. Neither wideout had scored since week 10 so including them only helps to open up the offense and concern the defense.

The Chargers have been good against wideouts with slot receivers a comparative problem. The confidence level is lower on who catches the scores - it could also be Bo Scaife for that matter - and the receivers will only offer moderate yardage this week in this final home game.

Tight Ends: Bo Scaife has been consistent with around 40 or 50 yards in recent games but only has one touchdown on the season. He is never more than a marginal fantasy play.

Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 19 5 26 16 8 11
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 11 19 15 15 19 2

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