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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 10
2012
IND at JAC (THU) DEN at CAR *NYJ at SEA TEN at MIA
ATL at NO *DET at MIN OAK at BAL *KC at PIT (MON)
*BUF at NE *HOU at CHI *SD at TB Bye:
*UPDATED DAL at PHI NYG at CIN *STL at SF ARI, CLE, GB, WAS

Prediction: DEN 30, CAR 17 (Line: DEN by 4)

Players to Watch: Willis McGahee, Cam Newton

The 5-3 Broncos are on a three game winning streak but are only 2-2 on the road. The 2-6 Panthers finally broke their five game losing steak playing the Redskins last week but are only 1-3 at home. This could be a trap game since the Broncos defense is bad against the run and that's about all the Panthers know how to do. But the Broncos have never scored less than 21 points and are on a 30+ point streak. Only four teams have fewer total points than the Panthers.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR -----
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD -----
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC -----
4 OAK 37-6 13 TB -----
5 @NE 21-31 14 @OAK -----
6 @SD 35-24 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO 34-14 17 KC -----
9 @CIN 31-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 280,2
RB Ronnie Hillman 10 5-30
WR Emmanuel Sanders 4-60
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-80,1
WR Wes Welker 8-100,1
TE Jacob Tamme 1-10
PK Connor Barth 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: Peyton Manning not only has the ship sailing in the right direction, the waters look incredibly calm from here on out. Only the road trip to Baltimore in week 15 looks tricky and even them the Broncos may be favored. Peyton's getting the credit but the entire team has played better and the defense in particular has come through. Of course it all seems to work better when your Hall of Fame quarterback is roasting every opponent.

Missed it by that much...

Manning set a record when he threw four games in a row with 300 yards and three touchdowns. last week in Cincinnati, he fell all the way down to 291 yards and three scores. What a slacker. Manning already has thrown 20 touchdowns and is on a pace to score 40 on the season which would be his second best year ever. He is worth starting. Probably wish you could start him twice.

Willis McGahee has dropped off rather sharply. While he did rush for over 100 yards and scored in three different games, only one of those was on the road - week two in Atlanta. In the three road games since, McGahee never scored and hasn't rushed for more than 66 yards. His role as a receiver has dipped a bit as well when he only caught one pass in Cincy last Sunday. This would be more concerning if the Panthers weren't already weak against the run. But it does draw a reason why Manning has been throwing so many passes in the last six weeks.

Joel Dreessen caught his fourth touchdown of the year but his production is rarely over 30 yards and he was blanked against the Saints. He is a red zone target but never accounts for many catches.

The wideouts continue to be the engine that drives this offense. Eric Decker scored in each of the last five games and twice in the last two. His seven touchdowns lead the Broncos though he remains lighter on yardage with only one effort exceeding 100 yards. Demaryius Thomas scored just four times but topped 100 yards four times. Brandon Stokley adds in a score on occasion but is a definite #3 in this offense.

The Panthers rank great against wideouts but not to worry. When good quarterbacks show up, their best receivers still end up with good games even in Carolina. Most team just run against them which is why the passing is lower but McGahee has been less effective in road games.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 6 19 2 4 21 3
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 10 27 2 14 31 18

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Peyton Manning, DEN @CIN 0000025020 ***
Cincy's been solid against the pass all season; Peyton's been ordinary the past couple of weeks. Dial back expectations, though you needn't go so far as to bench Manning here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN @CIN 10014301000 ***
The Broncos are going to run Anderson plenty--109 carries over the past four games, resulting in 478 yards and four rushing scores. The Bengals couldn't contain similarly heavy-loaded backs like Stevan Ridley (27-113-1), Terrance West (26-94-1) or Le'Veon Bell (26-185-2), so expect Anderson to work back towards his 100-yard days after a couple weeks under that milestone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @CIN 0071001000 ***
Cincy's secondary has been among the best this year at shutting down opposing wide receivers. That said, the last time they say a tandem even close to the talent level of Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders they gave up matching 100-yard games to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. No worries about Demaryius making his appointed rounds this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @CIN 004600000 ***
It's not a particularly favorable matchup, and Sanders has taken a back seat to Demaryius Thomas the past couple of weeks against tougher defenses. But the pattern set by the Steelers, with both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant topping 100 yards, seems to be the closest fit to what Denver brings to the table this week. Consider Sanders just a half-step behind Thomas at the top end of the Denver passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @CIN 003400000 ***
Thomas had one catch in his return to action last week. Now he'll face a Cincy D that was beaten by Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen earlier in the year but held Jimmy Graham in check and has allowed only one TE TD in the past two months. He's still a threat, but if you've found a quality backup plan during his absence you'll want to give serious consideration to employing it for at least one more week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, DEN @CIN 2233 ***
Peyton Manning's struggles are to Barth's benefit, as he's booted five field goals in two of the past three games; prior to that Denver had just two multi-field goal games all year. Cincy's surrendered multiple treys in three straight, so Barth's fun times three should continue this week.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 10-16 10 DEN -----
2 NO 35-27 11 TB -----
3 NYG 7-36 12 @PHI -----
4 @ATL 28-30 13 @KC -----
5 SEA 12-16 14 ATL -----
6 BYE ----- 15 @SD -----
7 DAL 14-19 16 OAK -----
8 @CHI 22-23 17 @NO -----
9 @WAS 21-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 40 240,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 20 3-20
RB Mike Tolbert 10
RB DeAngelo Williams 30 2-10
TE Greg Olsen 6-60,1

Pregame Notes: The Panthers mercifully won a game to end the losing streak but it's probably just going to start all over again. This is still an offense with only one decent receiver ("Champ, this is Steve. Steve, this is Champ") and a running game that still ranks among the worst in the league. HC Ron Rivera already had his talk this week with the owner about the need to actually win games and what happens when you do not. The team needs to show "progress" in order to qualify for another Rivera year. Probably not going to happen.

Cam Newton is one reason why. The offensive rookie of the year from 2011 has fallen on hard times not unlike the offensive rookie of the year from 2010 Sam Bradford. Newton's passed for only six touchdowns this year against eight interceptions. His rushing touchdowns also stopped after week four other than last week against the Redskins who can stop no one. Newton has not thrown a touchdown in two consecutive games since week two and he just scored once on the Redskins.

That whole change to Jonathan Stewart as the primary back has meant nothing so far. He still has yet to gain more than 51 yards in any game or run in a score. He rushed more than 11 times in only one game. Basically, he ends with 40 to 50 total yards in games and that just sad for a primary back on a team that once sported one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL. DeAngelo Williams was demoted but he still gets half a dozen carries or more and scored his third rushing touchdown on the year last week. This is just a marginal unit that splits up meager production to ensure no one is really worth any fantasy consideration.

Kick returner and sometimes wideout Kealoha Pilares was placed on injured reserve this week with a shoulder injury that requires surgery. Only Steve Smith matters from the wideouts and yet his first touchdown of the year was just last week when he only gained 41 yards on three catches against the Redskins and their horrible secondary. Smith is worth a fantasy start each week but is not above having a bad game every so often and his scoring is now up to "one". The only receiver of any note remains tight end Greg Olsen who also scored only once this year and usually ends up with just 30 or 40 yards in most games.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 10 27 27 19 32 7
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 15 16 8 29 11 16

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Derek Anderson, CAR CLE 0000023011 ***
Anderson threw for 277 and 1 against the Bucs, a significantly inferior pass defense to the Browns. If he replaces Cam Newton again, no reason to think his numbers will be any better.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR CLE 8011100000 ***
You can run on the Brownies; see Cincy's 241 yards and three TDs last week. And with little to no DeAngelo Williams and quite likely no Cam Newton culturing, it'll be another 20-tote day for Stewart. He's produced 228 yards and a touchdown with his last two 20-carry outings; have to like him here as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR CLE 200000000 ***
Williams hasn't played for two weeks and hasn't seen more than 14 carries in a year. All he's doing is harshing Jonathan Stewart's mellow.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR CLE 005600000 **
Joe Haden is not infallible. He also hasn't had a great deal of success with bigger receivers, especially tandems: Mike Evans went for 7-124-6 (or Vincent Jackson had 6-86, take your pick); DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson split 148 yards; and Julio Jones scored (with 68 yards to boot) while Roddy White tallied 96. Benjamin doesn't have nearly as high-profile a running mate, but he's still a solid bet to see his usual volume of targets and provide fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jerricho Cotchery, CAR CLE 004500000 ***
You could play the "not covered by Joe Haden" card here, but Kelvin Benjamin's dramatic size advantage over Haden likely puts that matchup in favor of the receiver, negating the need to lean any more heavily on Cotchery than usual.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR CLE 007801000 **
Cleveland has been pretty good against tight ends--except for Jimmy Graham, whom they misguidedly tried to defend with the much smaller Joe Haden. Unlikely that the Browns sic Haden on Olsen, which should free him up to do his usual damage.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR CLE 3322 ***
Gano is heating up at just the right time; with multiple treys in three straight and double-digit points in back-to-back tilts, it's fortuitous that he bumps into a Browns defense that has served up multiple field goals in three straight and double-digit kicker points in three of its last five.

WEEK 10
2012
IND at JAC (THU) DEN at CAR *NYJ at SEA TEN at MIA
ATL at NO *DET at MIN OAK at BAL *KC at PIT (MON)
*BUF at NE *HOU at CHI *SD at TB Bye:
*UPDATED DAL at PHI NYG at CIN *STL at SF ARI, CLE, GB, WAS

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