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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 13
2012
NO at ATL (THU) *CLE at OAK *MIN at GB *SEA at CHI
*ARI at NYJ HOU at TEN NE at MIA *SF at STL
CAR at KC *IND at DET *PHI at DAL TB at DEN
*UPDATED *CIN at SD *JAC at BUF *PIT at BAL NYG at WAS (MON)

Prediction: NO 23, ATL 31 (Line: ATL by 4)

Players to Watch: Darren Sproles, Jacquizz Rodgers

This is a replay of week 10 when the Saints beat the visiting Falcons 31-27 to hand them their only loss on the year. This is also probably the best Thursday night matchup they scheduled all year. There is an excellent chance that the Falcons will remember what happened three weeks ago and be out for some revenge.

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL 31-27
2 @CAR 27-35 11 @OAK 38-17
3 KC 24-27 12 SF 21-31
4 @GB 27-28 13 @ATL -----
5 SD 31-24 14 @NYG -----
6 BYE ----- 15 TB -----
7 @TB 35-28 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN 14-34 17 CAR -----
9 PHI 28-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO @ ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 320,2
RB Mark Ingram 40
WR Marques Colston 4-50
TE Jimmy Graham 8-70,1
TE Benjamin Watson 4-40
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Just when a three game winning streak made it all seem in reach, the 49ers showed up with a reminder that the Saints are not there yet. Trailing the Falcons by five games is plenty clear enough that the division is not in play and now that the 5-6 record dips below the .500 mark again, even a wild card or a winning season is looking like a very outside chance. At least in fantasy terms the Saints still post the points and have several games left to play where high scores are a lock.

Drew Brees is not posting the 300 yard games he once did. It has been five weeks since he threw for that much thanks mostly to an improved rushing effort but he has thrown for multiple scores in each of the last nine weeks and posted 298 yards and three scores when they hosted the Falcons in week ten.

Darren Sproles returned last week and went right back to catching seven passes against the 49ers. He was out in week ten when Mark Ingram rushed for 67 yards on 16 carries and Chris Ivory turned in a touchdown on his seven runs for 72 yards. The success of the rushing effort that week was a surprise but has carried over for the last two weeks. Ingram was held to only 27 yards by the 49ers top-ranked defense but he scored and ran for 67 yards in the previous week in Oakland.

Jimmy Graham has been much lower with his yardage this year and scored eight times. And his best game of the year was when he caught seven passes for 146 yards and two scores on the Falcons.

Marques Colston matches on Asante Samuel again and last time that limited him to only 26 yards on three catches though he scored once. Lance Moore was bigger in that game with seven receptions for 91 yards but he almost never scores and had just one game with a touchdown in the last seven weeks.

Expect lower number for most this week playing in Atlanta in a game they'll be more focused to win. Now that their wideouts are all healthy again, the Saints are sure to be forced to abandon the run in the game which means good things for the fantasy fortunes of Brees and the receivers.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 2 8 7 3 30 23
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 6 25 3 22 10 9

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO ATL 0000027020 ***
The Falcons have held three of their last four foes to one or zero touchdowns, and they limited Brees to 333 & 1 back in the season opener. So don't look for gaudy numbers; settle for pretty good and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO ATL 11022100000 ***
You can run on the Falcons, as no team has given up more fantasy points to running backs. And while he no longer gets all the carries, Ingram gets enough to make a fantasy impact.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO ATL 1006400000 ***
Thomas faces a Falcons' defense that has served up the third-most running back receptions and third-most RB receiving yards. Since his primary function is as a receiver out of the backfield, expect him to capitalize on those stats with a solid fantasy helper here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO ATL 006901000 ***
Stills is handling Brandin Cooks' duties, so it's worth noting that the rookie went for 7-77-1 in the earlier meeting--numbers that could easily be replicated here in the rematch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO ATL 005701000 ***
Colton went for 110 yards in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, but that's not rare against the Falcons. Five different wideouts have hit triple-digits in the past six games; expect Colton to return to their ranks this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO ATL 004500000 ***
The Saints haven't forgotten about the tight end position; they've scored four TE TDs in the past three games. They have, however, apparently forgotten about Graham, who has scored exactly zero of those touchdowns. He's scored in six of eight career meetings with Atlanta, and remains an every-week starter--though a gentle reminder to Sean Payton of his presence would be appreciated.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO ATL 2244 ***
Graham tallied double-digit points back in the season opener in Atlanta, but he hasn't been back above that mark since Week 8 and has just one multiple field goal outing in that span so keep those expectations in check.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO 27-31
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI 23-19
3 @SD 27-3 12 @TB 24-23
4 CAR 30-28 13 NO -----
5 @WAS 24-17 14 @CAR -----
6 OAK 23-20 15 NYG -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI 30-17 17 TB -----
9 DAL 19-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 330,3
RB Steven Jackson 80 2-20
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 30 4-30
WR Julio Jones 4-80,1
WR Roddy White 8-110,1
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons currently have a two game lead over the entire NFC and may end up throwing the week 17 finale against the Buccaneers if it doesn't matter. The Giants are the toughest remaining opponent but the Falcons could certainly run the board. They are barely beating teams and seven victories came with less than a touchdown lead. But playing well enough to win every week is the mark of a great team and they're generating nice fantasy points even without blowout wins.

Matt Ryan has been much less productive scoring in the last month where he only managed to throw for one touchdown in Tampa Bay last week and none against the visiting Cowboys and Buccaneers recently. But sandwiched between those two games was the best of the season - 411 yards and three touchdowns against the Saints. Ryan may not be scoring as much but he is on a four game streak of 300+ yard games.

Jacquizz Rodgers is getting more playing time in recent weeks and even ran in a score in Tampa Bay. He only posted 29 rushing yards in New Orleans and added four catches for 33 yards in that game. Michael Turner is running like someone tied a blocking sled to him. His worst game of the year was in New Orleans when he only gained 15 yards on 13 runs and just last week it was only 17 yards on 13 carries in Tampa Bay though he scored in that matchup. The rushing effort should have at least some better success in a home game this week assuming the Saints do not yet again surprise the Falcons with a big lead.

Tony Gonzalez has really slowed down. Over the last six weeks, he's only managed to score in one game or gain moire than 62 yards. He's been stuck mostly at around 30 yards per week. The exception of course was when he caught 11 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns in New Orleans for his best game of the year.

No doubt this turns into a lot of passing and in the last meeting, Julio Jones gained 75 yards on four catches while Roddy White ended with 114 yards on seven receptions Jones proved he was plenty healthy last week when he gained 147 yards and White has been outstanding in every home game this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 16 8 4 3 19
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 32 31 30 25 24 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL @NO 0000027030 ***
The last time Ryan saw the Saints he put up 448 yards and three TDs--and it's only the second-biggest game New Orleans has allowed to an opposing QB. In fact, four quarterbacks have topped 30 fantasy points against the Saints. Heck, the deposed Jay Cutler threw two TDs against them last week. Ryan has four straight games with multiple scoring strikes and an average of 362 and 2 in his last three trips to the Big Easy; what's not to like?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL @NO 5001100000 ***
Jackson's numbers have declined in each of his three games as a Falcon, culminating with his 12-52 back in Week 1. And while the Saints have been softer of late against the run, Jackson has been delivering a steady supply of Jackson-like games--especially on the road: 16-50, 17-41, 16-81, 8-22, 13-37, 13-49, 11-46. Those are not the lotto-winning numbers to plug into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL @NO 006901000 ***
Douglas delivered 69 yards as a third wheel in the earlier matchup, so he's usable even if Julio Jones plays. And if Jones can't go... well, you saw last week's 10-131 for yourself.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL @NO 007801000 ***
White has taken a back seat to Julio Jones, both against the Saints and in general. However, he did score in the earlier meeting with New Orleans this year and has scored in each of the past two games. He's not quite 1A again, but he's a solid secondary option worthy of a fantasy start in a game that projects to fill plenty of fantasy mugs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Hester, ATL @NO 003401000 ***
Hester had 99 yards against the Saints in his Atlanta debut, and 85 and a score last week with Julio Jones out. Tough to bank on Atlanta going four deep at receiver again, but if Jones can't go Hester climbs onto the fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @NO 00000000 *
If Jones is deemed ready he's worth the risk against a Saints secondary that's allowed more WR TDs than all but five other teams; something about the 116 yards he had against New Orleans in the opener, or the 42 targets and 26-516-3 he posted the past three games he played.
Update: Jones didn't practice for a second straight week; last week that meant no game, and while he's listed as questionable Atlanta's top beat writer seems to think it means another week without Julio in the lineup. The plan is for him to test his hip on Saturday, so maybe we'll know a little earlier than game time regarding his availability.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @NO 1133 ***
Bryant kicked his way to 13 points the last time he faced the Saints, and he's averaged better than 10 points per game over the past six. New Orleans gave up back-to-back-to-back double-digit games to kickers before encountering the feeble Bears last week. With the Vegas line set at a lofty 56 for this one, expect fireworks--and plenty of opportunities for Bryant.

WEEK 13
2012
NO at ATL (THU) *CLE at OAK *MIN at GB *SEA at CHI
*ARI at NYJ HOU at TEN NE at MIA *SF at STL
CAR at KC *IND at DET *PHI at DAL TB at DEN
*UPDATED *CIN at SD *JAC at BUF *PIT at BAL NYG at WAS (MON)

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