Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

Prediction: ATL 27, CAR 20 (Line:ATL by 3.5)

Players Updated: Brandon LaFell

Players to Watch: Matt Ryan, Cam Newton

The 11-1 Falcons have already clinched their division and go to Carolina to face the 3-9 Panthers. This is a replay of week four when the Falcons won 30-28 over the Panthers. The Falcons needed two late fourth quarter field goals to win that game including a 40-yarder as time expired. Hard to grasp how close that game was two months ago.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  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 23-13
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 @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 270,2
RB Steven Jackson 80,1 2-20
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 5-40
WR Harry Douglas 2-20
WR Julio Jones 6-80,1
WR Roddy White 6-70
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons have that winning attitude that translate into consistently playing opponents closely and yet always winning (-1). The remaining schedule is certainly no cakewalk but could end up with them winning out. The problem in the fantasy world is that the Falcons have a three game lead over all NFC teams. They could forfeit their final two games and still keep the #1 seed. That supposes they can beat these Panthers and the Giants next week. At 13-1, no other team could be better than 10-4 with two games left to play. That may spell major trouble in week 16 when so many fantasy leagues have championship games.

Matt Ryan passed for 369 yards and three scores in the previous meeting but he was chunking big yards and scores every week at the start of the season. Not so here lately when four of the last five games combined for only two touchdowns. The yardage has been decent enough with four straight games over 300 yards but then last week against the same Saints team he scorched with 411 yards and three scores in week 10, Ryan only passed for 165 yards and one touchdown. This week should help show if that was just one odd aberration or if there really is something to worry about.

One reason why Turner has been scoring less is that the rushing effort has been better in recent weeks. Michael Turner scored in four of the last five games though his yardage varies greatly. Turner ran for 103 yards on 13 carries in the previous meeting with the Panthers. Jacquizz Rodgers has been used more in recent weeks as well though he rarely produces more than 50 total yards and primarily acts as a third down back. Rodgers only ran for 18 yards versus the Panthers but added four catches for 40 yards in that game.

Tony Gonzalez is slowing down in what will be his final year. He scored last week and has seven touchdowns on the year but has really turned in lower games lately. Since week five, five of his games failed to reach 60 yards and and four different times he had no scoring and only around 30 yards. Gonzo posted five receptions for 51 yards in the last meeting with the Panthers.

Week four was the best game of the year for Roddy White who caught eight passes for 169 yards and two scores versus the Panthers. White has since only scored in one other game and comes off a season worst one catch for 20 yards against the Saints. Julio Jones only had one catch for 30 yards in week four but since been much better. Overall the wideouts for Atlanta started the season on hot streaks but have since really cooled off and thrown in several clunker games each. Jones typically has the big games on the road and White does it at home. This week will be a good test of that though the ease of rushing may encourage another run heavy attack like we saw last week against the Saints.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 17 8 4 3 19
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 10 26 6 17 32 19

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 10-16 10 DEN 14-36
2 NO 35-27 11 TB 21-27
3 NYG 7-36 12 @PHI 30-22
4 @ATL 28-30 13 @KC 21-27
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 ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 60,1 240,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 10 2-10
RB Mike Tolbert 10 2-10
RB DeAngelo Williams 50 2-10
TE Greg Olsen 6-70
PK Graham Gano 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Panthers come off a loss to the Chiefs which is something not many teams can say. The frustrating part all along has been that the Panthers are almost never blown out. Seven of their losses were by a touchdown or less. But they are consistently not quite good enough. The remaining home game against the Raiders offers a good shot at one more win but but there is no escaping that the Panthers are going to end up with a top ten draft pick if not top five.

Cam Newton started the season with a number of disappointing games but did manage to pass for 215 yards and two scores in Atlanta as well as rushing for a season high 86 yards and one score on nine runs. He's passed for multiple scores in three of the last four games while remaining above 230 yards in each. Considering his receiving crew has not been upgraded, the progress made has been all from Newton.

Back in week four, Jonathan Stewart (10-40) and DeAngelo Williams (11-49) combined for 89 rushing yards and one score by Williams. This meeting will be without Stewart who remains out with a bad ankle sprain that has not yet been given a timetable when he is expected to be back. Williams gets the start on his own but it only translated into 12 runs for 67 yards in Kansas City last week. This remains the #29 ranked running back attack regardless which backs are playing.

Greg Olsen figures to be a factor this week since he posted 89 yards and a score on six catches in the previous meeting with the Falcons. He remains good for at least 50 yards every week for over the last month as well. Brandon LaFell is likely out this week with a turf toe but had no catches in the last meeting. His absence could hurt since he had been improved in recent weeks with three touchdowns and three games over 70 yards.

That leaves Steve Smith even more alone and he only managed three receptions for 52 yards in week four. Smith comes off a season high 120 yards and a score in Kansas City but has languished with mostly 40 to 60 yard games and no scores in most weeks this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 8 29 23 13 32 9
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 6 25 3 22 10 9

QB Cam Newton, CAR NO 30000025020 ***
The Saints have held Newton in relative check--single touchdown, sub-250 passing yards, sub-50 rushing yards check--the past three meetings, and Cam's coming off a subpar performance against the Seahawks last week. But New Orleans is a different animal outdoors, so we're putting a little more stock in a Newton bounceback effort here--especially considering the Saints have allowed multiple QB TDs in four straight games.
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR NO 5011100000 **
The last time both Williams and Jonathan Stewart played in the same game for the Panthers it was a 14-9 split on carries (and 14-12 on touches) in favor of Williams. He's also scored in four of the last five meetings with New Orleans where both he and Stewart have suited up. So odds are he's the lead dog here, though if his share of the workload is still in the 15-touch range it'll be tough to bank on him for much of a fantasy contribution.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR NO 3001100000 **
In the last five times both Stewart and DeAngelo Williams have suited up against the Saints--and you have to go back five years to come up with those five games--Williams has scored in four of them and Stewart in just one. The last time both were available this season Stewart was on the short end of a 14-12 split in touches. So if Williams truly is back this week, Stewart isn't likely to be much of a fantasy helper.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR NO 0051002000 ***
In the last three games alone the Saints have allowed five WR TDs and three 100-yard games. Since Benjamin is the Carolina WR most likely to (insert just about anything here), he's the best bet to take the helpful cut of those stats.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR NO 006601000 **
Olsen hasn't scored on the Saints since October of 2011 and has never topped 50 yards against them. Seattle, notoriously soft against tight ends, provided a blue print for covering him last week in holding him to one catch for 16 yards, and the Saints haven't allowed a TE TD since Week 1. He's still an every-week starter in TE-mandatory leagues based on his role in the Carolina offense, but there isn't much to like about this particular matchup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR NO 22332 ***
Gano's been a solid point provider, averaging around eight points per game, and the Saints are surrendering around nine points per game. You could do worse for a kicking option this week.

*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

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