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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 12
2012
HOU at DET (THU) *BAL at SD *MIN at CHI *SF at NO
NE at NYJ (THU) BUF at IND *OAK at CIN *STL at ARI
WAS at DAL (THU) DEN at KC PIT at CLE TEN at JAC
*UPDATED *ATL at TB GB at NYG SEA at MIA *CAR at PHI (MON)

Prediction: NE 27, NYJ 17 (Line: NE by 6)

Players to Watch: Aaron Hernandez

This is the late game on Thanksgiving. The 7-3 Patriots head to New York where the 4-6 Jets are 2-3 and have already lost to the Patriots 26-29 just four weeks ago. Apparently that close call inspired the Patriots since they have scored at least 37 points in each of the last three games and are currently the #1 scoring team in the NFL by over 50 points.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN 34-13 10 BUF 37-31
2 ARI 18-20 11 IND 59-24
3 @BAL 30-31 12 @NYJ -----
4 @BUF 52-28 13 @MIA -----
5 DEN 31-21 14 HOU -----
6 @SEA 23-24 15 SF -----
7 NYJ 29-26 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE @ NYJ Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 250,2
WR Danny Amendola
WR Kenny Britt 5-80,1
WR Julian Edelman 3-30
TE Dwayne Allen 4-40
TE Martellus Bennett 3-30
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Pats are back to their "roll up the points" mode but that may take a step back now that Rob Gronkowski is out for at least four weeks and potentially longer. The talented tight end has been the central man in the passing scheme for two seasons now and his limitation in the Superbowl may have been part of the four point loss. That and the whole "Curse of Eli" thing.

Fortunately, Aaron Hernandez is expected to return from his ankle injury that has basically robbed him of his season since week two. He returned in week six and seven but then missed the last four games. Some reports have him still limited and since this is the Patriot way, we cannot really know until we know. He's been limited in practice for a few weeks. The same was true in week six when he came back and scored once on his six catches for 30 yards.

Vishanthe Shiancoe should see an increase in snaps but not necessarily receptions. Neither he nor Michael Hoomanawanui are a true replacement and whatever Hernandez does not inherit will go to Julian Edelman, Wes Welker or even running backs.

Tom Brady passed for 259 yards and two scores when the Jets visited a month ago. The Jets played a very good game defensively that week and held the Pats to no rushing scores. Stevan Ridley gained 65 yards on 17 carries with no receptions while Shane Vereen went for 49 yards on eight runs. Danny Woodhead has six runs and four receptions for a total of 46 yards in that game but was never given a touch last week in the blow out win.

This is a prime time game on national TV. Both teams know each other very well but the absence of Gronk could make a difference. But this is the exact sort of game that Brady and company loves to really put on a show. This is a pivotal week too since the Pats need to show that losing Gronk is not going to make a big difference.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 5 3 11 1 2 3
Preventing Fantasy Points NYJ 7 21 4 24 19 17

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE @PIT 0000031021 ***
Brady had a bad week, but he typically plays poorly in Miami and was without Gronk. He travels to Pittsburgh for a matchup that puts home-field advantage on the line with fantasy's fifth-best matchup of the week. QBs have averaged 255.2 yards (11th) and a TD every 9.4 receptions (3rd).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Rex Burkhead, NE @PIT 6013300000 ***
Through the air, this is a a positive matchup. Burkhead faces the fifth-best yardage opponent. The highlight on the ground is the Steelers have given up a score every 26.8 carries, or four times in the last five contests.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dion Lewis, NE @PIT 8011100000 ***
The position has averaged 87.2 rushing yards, 53.2 aerial yards, 4.6 catches and a TD every 26 touches -- all of these help create the No. 11 non-PPR matchup and 13th-best of the week in PPR.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NE @PIT 005701000 ***
This is the top matchup for fantasy points per play and touchdown ease. One in 7.1 catches goes into the end zone, and the 165.2 yards allowed to receivers is fantasy's ninth-highest figure over the last five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Chris Hogan, NE @PIT 003401000 **
Hogan was the receiving hero in last year's AFC title game, scoring a pair of touchdowns. The Steelers have permitted wideouts to score eight times in the last five games, or once every 7.1 receptions, with is the softest defense in this category. It's a top-10 matchup for yardage, as well, rating third in standard and fourth in PPR scoring.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE @PIT 004500000 ***
One in 7.1 receptions against the Steelers has made it into the end zone over the last five weeks. Unless this one turns into a shootout, Amendola's target count is too low to consider him better than a peripheral play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE @PIT 006800000 ***
Gronk returns for the worst matchup of the week for tight ends. Since Week 9, Pittsburgh has held the position to 13 catches and no scores. Meetings with low-tier tight ends helped fuel this stat. Only Delanie Walker (6-92-0) is remotely close to Gronkowski's class of this group (IND, TEN, GB, CIN, BAL).
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE @PIT 1144 ***
Twenty of the 22 total kicks in the past five games have been true against the Steelers, though this is a heavily lopsided affair for extra points over field goals.

New York Jets
Homefield: Meadowlands Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 BUF 48-28 10 @SEA 7-28
2 @PIT 10-27 11 @STL 27-13
3 @MIA 23-20 12 NE -----
4 SF 0-34 13 ARI -----
5 HOU 17-23 14 @JAC -----
6 IND 35-9 15 @TEN -----
7 @NE 26-29 16 SD -----
8 MIA 9-30 17 @BUF -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Matt Forte 70 5-30,1
RB Bilal Powell 30,1 3-20
WR Jeremy Kerley 4-70,1
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Bryce Petty, NYJ @NO 0000017012 *
Petty will replace Josh McCown (hand) at the Saints. There is zero justification for starting him in any conventional setup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, NYJ @NO 2005400000 *
There is little to like about the matchup. It's not good for receiving work in terms of volume, though two balls found the end zone. Since Week 9, the Saints have given up 120.4 offensive yards (20th) a game to RBs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bilal Powell, NYJ @NO 3002100000 *
Powell shouldn't be in any fantasy lineups this week. He has one touchdown in the past eight games, catching only four passes in his last four games. The Saints are formidable against his position, rating in the bottom half of the league in both scoring setups.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Robby Anderson, NYJ @NO 003400000 *
Anderson's fine season appears poised to crash and burn when it matters most. The loss of quarterback Josh McCown means Bryce Petty will be the starter, and there's little incentive to chancing this one with the playoffs at stake. Play him if you must. New Orleans has been vulnerable of late to wideouts, though this defense has missed two of its key secondary members at times in the last five weeks to skew the stats in a negative way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jermaine Kearse, NYJ @NO 003300000 ***
Kearse faces a Saints defense that looks like a good matchup using recent data, but injuries hurt their cause. Now healthy, the secondary is trending in the stronger direction. Toss in Bryce Petty as Kearse's new starting quarterback and it's time to look elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ @NO 003201000 *
Tight ends have averaged a mere 3.5 catches (24th) for 42 yards (21st) against the Saints over the past five games. One in nine grabs made it into the end zone (14th). Bryce Petty replaces Josh McCown at quarterback for the Jets.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, NYJ @NO 1111 ***
No Josh McCown should stymie the offense's momentum. The Saints have allowed only 4.2 combined kicking tries per outing (19th).

Pregame Notes: Winning big in St. Louis was a surprise last week since the Jets were on a three game losing streak that started against these Patriots and the next two losses were blowouts by 21 points each. If nothing else, it made the Jets look good for one week and quelled the withering fire they take from the NY media after every loss.

Mark Sanchez threw for a season best 328 yards in the last meeting with the Patriots though only one touchdown and he's scored multiple touchdowns in only two games all year. At 11 touchdowns on the year, he's been only marginally effective in any game. The Patriots have shored up their secondary in the interim as well with the addition of CB Aqib Talib who instantly became their #1 cover corner. He also returned an interception for a touchdown in his first game with the Patriots. Sanchez is less likely to see as much success passing.

Shonn Greene still slogs along with around 60 rush yards in most games and aside from his week six freak show against the Colts when he scored three times, he's been the picture of mediocrity this year. Now the Jets are taking a committee approach to the backfield and including Bilal Powell who scored his first two NFL touchdowns last week on his 11 runs for 42 yards in St. Louis. Greene rushed for 64 yards on 18 carries in that game as well. In week seven, Greene ran for 54 yards and a score on 16 runs in New England. A committee is a good thing if it finally dissuades you from giving Greene a fantasy start.

Dustin Keller caught seven passes for 93 yards and a score in New England this year but that was his only touchdown and he's settled down to much lower production. Against the Rams he caught two passes for 16 yards.

Jeremy Kerley was the best receiver in the last meeting when he gained 120 yards on seven receptions. He's failed to turn in more than 60 yards in any game since and has not scored since back in week three. None of the Jets wideouts have any reliability or fantasy value now.

This is a late game and prime time so both teams will bring their "A" games. So far that heavily favors the Patriots.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NYJ 30 24 24 24 28 9
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 31 16 27 31 6 1

INSERT THE PLAYER TABLE #2 HERE

WEEK 12
2012
HOU at DET (THU) *BAL at SD *MIN at CHI *SF at NO
NE at NYJ (THU) BUF at IND *OAK at CIN *STL at ARI
WAS at DAL (THU) DEN at KC PIT at CLE TEN at JAC
*UPDATED *ATL at TB GB at NYG SEA at MIA *CAR at PHI (MON)

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