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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
December 8, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
NYG at BAL* DET at GB CIN at NE* SF at ARZ* PHI at WAS
OAK at ATL IND at HOU* Sun 4 PM STL at CAR* Mon 9 PM
CLE at BUF* CHI at JAX* MIA at DEN TB at SD* KC at TEN*
NO at DAL SEA at MIN NYJ at PIT *updated Times ET
  New Orleans Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 0 0 290,3
RB Deuce McAllister 60 30 0
TE Boo Williams 0 30 0
WR Joe Horn 0 120,2 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 60,1 0
WR Jerome Pathon 0 40 0
PK John Carney 0 FG 3 XP -
  Dallas Rush Catch Pass
QB V. Testaverde 0 0 220,1
RB Julius Jones 130,2 20 0
RB Richie Anderson 10 10 0
TE Jason Witten 0 50,1 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
WR Terrance Copper 0 40 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 30 0
PK Bill Cundiff 2 FG 3 XP -

NO (4-8) vs DAL (5-7)

Game Prediction: NO 21, DAL 27

The Cowboys return home this week with a two game winning streak, a legitimate running game and at least some optimism that the playoffs are not a mathematical impossibility yet. The Saints are on a three game losing streak with the consistently worst defense in the league.

Pre-Game Notes - NO

The Saints have never, in twelve games this season, managed to allow less than 20 points by any opponent. They have the most points scored in the NFC West though they remain in the cellar there. With 344 points allowed this season, they are the #32 defense. Dead last. Even San Francisco has only allowed 336.

Quarterback: Aaron Brooks has scored in all but one game this season and comes off a three touchdown loss against the Panthers. He was the king of fumbles in 2003 but that is no longer a problem. Now he throws interceptions and has seven in just the last three games. The yardage is there, at least one score is there but lately - multiple turnovers.

Last season in week 17, Brooks threw for 243 yards and once score against the Cowboys.

Running Backs: Deuce McAllister comes off his worst game of the year (not counting the injury in week 2). He only gained 41 yards on 15 carries last week against the Panthers and caught one pass for one yards. He lost a fumble. After seven straight games with good fantasy value, McAllister joined Tiki Barber of the Giants last week in falling off the fantasy map.

Last year against the Cowboys in week 17, he had only 49 yards on 21 carries. His dip downward may not be over.

Wide Receivers: Regardless of the team woes in New Orleans, Joe Horn has not been the problem. He is currently #2 in the NFL with 1100 yards this year and comes off a huge 160 yard, two touchdown effort against the Panthers. Donte Stallworth had a score last week as well though only 44 yards. While Stallworth turned in his freak 122 yard, one score game in week 11, he's done little to nothing else this season. He only has three scores on the year.

Last season Horn did not play in the final game. He should be a treat for the Dallas secondary this season.

Tight Ends: Boo Williams gets about eight throws in almost every game but only twice has he scored this year and not once in the last four weeks.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys rushing defense has been pretty sound this year with only the occasional big game allowed. Considering the weakness against the pass by Dallas, McAllister will likely be held to only a moderate game because the Saints will not be able to resist throwing when it is so much more successful.

Brooks should be a lock for at least two scores and could get that third one if the running game is abandoned. Expect yardage in the high 200's this week with Joe Horn a lock for a big game. Stallworth could score again going against the rookie corner Frazier but that is harder to rely on given the inconsistency of Stallworth this season.

Pre-Game Notes - DAL

What a difference two weeks make. The Cowboys were being counted among the dead and dying NFL teams in week 11 and now suddenly have a great rushing game and a shot at still landing a wildcard bid. The week 15 game in Philadelphia is a loss, but the rest of the schedule - NO, WAS and @NYG are all games that can be won. This year an 8-8 might prove the final wildcard.

Quarterback: Vinny Testaverde remains the starter as "the best chance to win" but he almost blew it last week with two costly interceptions. Over the last six weeks, Testaverde has thrown five scores but also 12 interceptions. The magic formula seems clear now. Hand the ball off to Jones. Don't stop until the punter shows up or the ref signals a touchdown.

Running Backs: Julius Jones. He had only five carries in week two for 16 yards and then broke a bone in his shoulder. He came back and went from out to doubtful to questionable to playing in week 11 and gained 81 yards on 30 carries against the Ravens. He then topped that with 33 carries for 150 yards and two scores against the Bears. He then topped that with 30 carries for 198 yards and three scores against the Seahawks. Eddie George never even puts on a helmet anymore. The Jones era has began.

Wide Receivers: Keyshawn Johnson comes off his biggest game of the year, catching six passes for 116 yards and one score last week which gives him five touchdowns on the season. Quincy Morgan has done little more than drop passes since joining the Cowboys and now appears a rather uneven trade result since Antonio Bryant is following the footsteps of Jimmy Smith by exploding only once he is on a new team. Terrance Copper has done more than Morgan so far and scored his first NFL touchdown last week.

Tight Ends: As long as Testaverde starts, Jason Witten is the money man in the passing offense. He had 61 yards on five catches last week to finally return to his productive ways. Drew Henson just ignores him so far but Vinny knows where third downs are made.

Match Against the Defense: There could be a concern that they will use up Julius Jones since he's had 93 carries in only three games but he is young and rested after only starting three games. Jones goes against a rush defense that has allowed more 100 yard games to opposing rushers than any team. The Saints have given up at least one rushing score each week on average and knowing that Brooks will throw well against them, Dallas will remain committed to the run as a means to win the game, control the clock and prevent Testaverde from throwing more interceptions.

Vinny may end up with a passing score or two, but his yardage will be only moderate because the run should work well enough. The Saints are weak everywhere, but rank as the worst team against tight ends so expect Witten to get another score this week.

NO DAL 2004 Averages DAL NO
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
241 Pass yards 234
2.0 Pass TDs 1.3
0.5 Interceptions 1.4
9 Rush yards 3
0.1 Rush TDs 0.1
--- RB's ---
100 Rush yards 103
0.8 Rush TDs 0.9
41 Receive yards 26
0.2 Receive TD's 0.1
--- WR's ---
163 Receive yards 145
1.5 Receive TD's 0.7
--- TE's ---
40 Receive yards 63
0.4 Receive TD's 0.6
--- PK's ---
1.5 Field Goals 1.1
3.1 Extra Points 2.3
--- DEF/ST ---
0.8 Fumbles 0.6
1.5 Interceptions 0.5
0.3 Touchdowns 0.0
1.8 Sacks 2.2
0.0 Safeties 0.1
Saints (4-8)
Score Opp.
7-21 SEA
30-27 SF
28-25 @STL
10-34 @ARI
17-20 TB
31-38 MIN
31-26 @OAK
Week 8 bye
17-43 @SD
27-20 KC
13-34 DEN
21-24 @ATL
21-32 CAR
Week 14 @DAL
Week 15 @TB
Week 16 ATL
Week 17 @CAR
Cowboys (5-7)
Score Opp.
17-35 @MIN
19-12 CLE
21-18 @WAS
Week 4 bye
10-26 NYG
20-24 PIT
20-41 @GB
31-21 DET
3-26 @CIN
21-49 PHI
10-30 @BAL
21-7 CHI
42-39 @SEA
Week 14 NO
Week 15 @PHI
Week 16 WAS
Week 17 @NYG