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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*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
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 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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 17 8 4 3 19
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 10 26 6 17 32 19

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL DET 0000027011 ***
It's been a month since Ryan tossed multiple scores, and this date with a Detroit defense that begrudgingly gave Drew Brees two TDs last week but has otherwise kept the vaunted Saints in check doesn't project to do him any favors.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL DET 4011100000 *
Jackson is barely startable in a favorable matchup; against a Detroit defense that hasn't allowed a rushing score since Week 4 or a 100-yard rusher all season, there's nothing to like at all.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Antone Smith, ATL DET 2003300000 ***
Still a lottery ticket of a fantasy helper, and last week he failed to cash out. Limited touches and a tough defense make that the more likely outcome again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL DET 2003200000 **
Freeman's share of the workload is increasing, but against a tough D like Detroit's it'll take more than a share to make some fantasy noise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL DET 005701000 **
Detroit gave up multiple 100-yard receivers last week, while White posted his first triple-digit yardage outing of the season. While he's still WR2 to Julio Jones, he's a strong WR2 and a viable fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL DET 006700000 ****
Jones remains an every-week fantasy starter, even against a tough defense like Detroit's; just dial back the expectations a bit.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL DET 005600000 **
Douglas is an iffy play injury wise and a lousy play otherwise against a Detroit defense that isn't allowing much to opposing receivers let alone secondary targets.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL DET 1122 ****
Bryant hasn't scored double-digit points since Week 1, and a date with the top defense in the league isn't likely to help matters.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
Grass
  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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 8 29 23 13 32 9
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 6 25 3 22 10 9

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Cam Newton, CAR SEA 30100024020 ***
Seattle has allowed multiple passing scores in five straight games. While they don't appear to offer Cam much room to run, he should account for enough via the air to be on the fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR SEA 4003200000 ****
Well, the Seahawks HAVE allowed RB TDs in back to back weeks and 85-plus yards to Tre Mason and DeMarco Murray, so... nope, can't say it with a straight face. Ol' Iron Horse Stewart is a reach at best this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jerricho Cotchery, CAR SEA 005501000 **
Only once all year have two wideouts scored in the same game against Seattle, and no tandem has topped double-digit fantasy points against the Seahawks this season. Cotchery isn't about to buck that trend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR SEA 003400000 ****
Benjamin will get the looks--from both Cam Newton and Richard Sherman. The latter makes it difficult to bank on Benjamin as a fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR SEA 008901000 ****
The Seahawks' defensive Achilles' heel also happens to be the Panthers' strength. Expect Olsen to add his name to the list of eight TE TDs Seattle has given up already this season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR SEA 2233 ***
Gano has kicked multiple field goals just once in the past four games, and Seattle's defense isn't likely to suddenly afford him bountiful opportunities.

WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

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