Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

Prediction: CAR 13, ATL 30 (Line: ATL by 7.5)

Players to Watch: Jacquizz Rodgers, Greg Olsen

The 1-2 Panthers first trip outside of the division resulted in a drubbing by the visiting Giants and now they face the 3-0 Falcons who have already made plans for the divisional trophy with 13 games left to play. The Falcons swept the Panthers in 2011, winning 31-17 at home and 31-23 at Carolina. We still cannot be certain if these Panthers are better or worse than last year, but it seems very apparent that the Falcons are improved. The Panthers have lost six of the last seven meetings and their last win was in 2009.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 10-16 10 DEN -----
2 NO 35-27 11 TB -----
3 NYG 7-36 12 @PHI -----
4 @ATL ----- 13 @KC -----
5 SEA ----- 14 ATL -----
6 BYE ----- 15 @SD -----
7 DAL ----- 16 OAK -----
8 @CHI ----- 17 @NO -----
9 @WAS ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR @ ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 50,1 260
RB Jonathan Stewart 40 4-40
RB DeAngelo Williams 50 1-10
TE Greg Olsen 6-50

Pregame Notes: Beating the Saints is starting to be less of an accomplishment as was originally thought which means otherwise, the Panthers not only lost two games but only had one touchdown in each. The offense had a decrease in passing late last season and now even the rushing has been no advantage.

Cam Newton only has two passing touchdowns against five interceptions and a lost fumble. He made up with 71 rush yards in New Orleans but the other two games only totaled 11 runs for ten yards though he did score against the Giants on a one-yard dive. This is not bad for most second year quarterbacks. This is disappointing for the Offensive Rookie of the Year who shattered many rookie records last season.

Jonathan Stewart has missed two games because of both toe and ankle injuries but is expected to return for this game. It's not like his absence has been any great benefit for DeAngelo Williams who posted 69 rush yards and a score in New Orleans and only 50 yards on 11 runs versus the Giants. The two weeks that Stewart has been gone had Newton stealing short rushing touchdowns. Now that Stewart should be back, it just takes mediocrity and halves it.

It is not all gloomy here though. Steve Smith has posted three games with at least 86 yards in each though he has yet to score a touchdowns. Greg Olsen finally had a big game with 98 yards on seven receptions and his 14 targets were nine more than any other receiver. That sort of attention by Newton means good things in the future for an offense that is struggling to move the ball, particularly with two tough defenses up next with the Falcons and Seahawks.

This week is not likely to be any better. The Falcons are playing very well on both sides of the ball and even when they get a big lead, they do not relent. The Falcons have been weaker against the run but game situation here may mean the Panthers abandon the run as they did last week. And whatever rushing happens has to include Stewart this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 11 17 19 20 32 21
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 6 27 3 11 1 1

QB Cam Newton, CAR @ATL 40100022010 ****
Newton threw for just 247 & 1 in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, but he mixed in a rushing score--a la E.J. Manuel, a la Colin Kaepernick last week. In fact, every quarterback but one that has faced the Falcons has recorded multiple touchdowns; why should a motivated Newton be any different?
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR @ATL 601000000 ****
The Falcons have given up 98 and 97 yards to feature backs the past two weeks, that on the heels of four 100-yard games in the two months prior. Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 85 yards in the earlier meeting with Atlanta; with Williams now housing al those carries, he's a solid fantasy play this week.
WR Jerricho Cotchery, CAR @ATL 004501000 ****
Cotchery has scored a surprising amount of touchdowns, but he's most definitely the third wheel in this passing game and can't be banked on for fantasy production.
WR Tiquan Underwood, CAR @ATL 003300000 ***
Since his 108 & 2 against Detroit in Week 12, Underwood has a four-game total of 73 yards. He can't be banked on for fantasy help.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @ATL 007801000 *****
Only two teams have allowed more TE TDs than the Falcons. Olsen scored on them in the earlier matchup and is set up for another solid fantasy outing here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @ATL 1133 ****
No team has given up more points to kickers than the Falcons. Graham tallied 10 in the earlier meeting, and with Carolina still in the postseason hunt he'll get plenty of opportunity to swing the leg here.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO -----
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI -----
3 @SD 27-3 12 @TB -----
4 CAR ----- 13 NO -----
5 @WAS ----- 14 @CAR -----
6 OAK ----- 15 NYG -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI ----- 17 TB -----
9 DAL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 10 270,2
RB Steven Jackson 60,1 4-30
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 40 5-40
WR Harry Douglas 2-20
WR Julio Jones 4-70
WR Roddy White 6-90,1
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons are undefeated and looking like one of the big contenders in the NFC. Their match-up in San Diego proved to be their finest game yet with so many weapons to use on offense that it does not matter when one or two are having an off game. And when it hits on all cylinders the Falcons are very hard to beat by anyone in the league. Support that with an improved and opportunistic defense and it is a fun time to have Falcons on your fantasy roster.

Matt Ryan is taking the proverbial "next step". He has passed for at least two scores in each game, has been deadly accurate and has already passed touchdowns to four different players. The rushing effort is adequate at times but is never going to overtake the need to pass. At times, the rushing has been so lackluster as to ensure that Ryan has to throw.

Michael Turner comes off his best game of the year with 80 yards on 14 runs against his old employer but on the season he still only has 42 runs for 154 yards for a 3.7 yard average. And if you have watched him, that seems kind of high. Jacquizz Rodgers has not been that more effective but was given ten carries in San Diego (33 yards) and was finally used as a receiver with five catches for 35 yards and one score. That is a capacity for Rodgers that would yield decent weekly fantasy value but then again - there already are three great receiving options anyway. Turner gets the short touchdown runs but he has marginal fantasy value with no receiving work and usually a somewhat ineffective rushing average in most weeks.

Tony Gonzalez is leaving the league in style. Three games - one score in each and never worse than 5-53. Against the Chargers he led the team with nine catches for 91 yards. He's been a tremendous value for a tight end that was being largely ignored in fantasy drafts.

Julio Jones bounced back from his minimal production against the Broncos when he posted 67 yards on five catches against the Chargers with one score. That has been his typical pattern. Jones has been deadly in road games and then marginal in home stands. Six career games over 100 yards and every one was away from Atlanta.

Roddy White is the opposite again this year. Big game against the visiting Broncos and no scores on the road. It isn't that the two wideouts cannot do well in all venues. It is just that they usually don't and it is consistent enough to merit consideration.

The Panthers have been bad against the run but the Falcons are not going to win games on the ground. The higher ranking the secondary gets is because most teams just do not throw much because rushing is easier. That should be changing this week against the Falcons who are going to throw and so far - always throw well.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 2 20 9 2 6 6
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 11 31 2 21 31 22

QB Matt Ryan, ATL CAR 0000028011 ***
Ryan threw for 219 & 1 in the earlier meeting with the Panthers, but that was in Carolina. Then again, venue hasn't mattered much to the Panthers, who have allowed only one multiple passing TD game all season. Ryan just took the 49ers for 348 & 2 in San Francisco so all is not lost, but with Carolina playing for a playoff spot it's tough to see Ryan having much success here.
RB Steven Jackson, ATL CAR 5003200000 ***
Jackson has six touchdowns in his last four games--a little late for those looking to him as a fantasy RB1 or even RB2 back on draft day, but you take what you can get. However, He mustered just 57 yards (and no TDs) on 13 carries in the earlier meeting with Carolina and is unlikely to dent a Panthers defense that's given up one RB rushing TD in the past 11 games and four RB TDs all year.
WR Roddy White, ATL CAR 005600000 ***
White has seen double-digit targets in three of the last four games, resulting in some old-school Roddy White numbers: 12-141-1, 8-74, 10-143. He didn't play in the earlier meeting with Carolina, but he had 100-plus yards and a score in both ends of last season's series and has scored in three straight against the Panthers. While his prognosis is less optimistic against a Carolina defense that's allowed just three WR TDs in the past 13 games, at least there's a chance.
WR Drew Davis, ATL CAR 002300000 ***
Davis had a brief moment when both Julio Jones and Roddy White were out of the lineup and he was wingman to Harry Douglas. Jones is back, the matchup is tough, and Davis goes back in the bargain bin.
WR Harry Douglas, ATL CAR 003300000 ***
Douglas had 82 yards in the earlier matchup with Carolina--a pretty good WR game against the Panthers--but he's been relatively quiet the past month while Roddy White has returned to WR1 status in Atlanta so keep your expectations in check.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CAR 2211 ***
Bryant has one double-digit effort in the past three months and posted just four points in the earlier meeting with Carolina. The Panthers are playing for something, the Falcons are not; unlikely this ends well for Bryant.

CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

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