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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

Prediction: ATL 27, DET 20 (Line: ATL by 4)

Players to Watch: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones

This is the Saturday game at 8:30 P.M. so you can wrap presents and watch Calvin Johnson. The 12-2 Falcons are 5-2 on the road and have actually lost two of their last three away games including beating the Buccaneers by one point for their only win. What should keep the Falcons honest this week is that they still have not clinched the #1 seed which can happen after this game. The Lions are on a six game losing streak and are only 2-4 at home. They are now nothing more than a vehicle to get Calvin Johnson the single season receiving yard record. But they have two games remaining and only 182 yards left to gain.

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 20-30
6 OAK 23-20 15 NYG 34-0
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI 30-17 17 TB -----
9 DAL 19-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 300,2
RB Steven Jackson 70 5-30
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 2-30
WR Julio Jones 5-100,1
WR Roddy White 6-60
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Just one more win - or a loss by the 49ers - should secure that #1 seed and a bye in the first round along with all-important homefield status throughout the playoffs. The Falcons crushed the Giants last week and completely reversed the thinking that maybe they weren't the cream of the NFC. The Falcons don't have to win this game but if they do they can take it easy in the final week, get a week off to rest and heal up and then play at home all the way.

The fortunate part this week is that Matt Ryan typically has the biggest games when on the road. Four of his last five road trips resulted in 340+ yards and multiple touchdowns. Just as important is that Michael Turner has been horrible on the road. He's scored in each of the last five games but his last three away games all resulted in fewer than 20 rushing yards. The score is nice but there is never any yardage attached to it. His ten touchdowns over then different games may be fine if you are in a touchdown-only league but he's fallen off the map when it comes to yardage.

Roddy White was able to play last week despite the sore knee that limited him in practices. He played well over half of the offensive snaps but only came away with two receptions for 16 yards that came on five targets. Julio Jones not only scored at home for the first time all year but did it twice and gained 74 yards on six catches with only one more target than White had. The expectation is that White will bounce back this week though he's been the under performer in road games this year.

The Lions defense has been getting worse as the season goes and allowed 32 points per opponent on average over the last six weeks. This would be a nice spot for the Falcons to give a productive effort in the passing game so they can take it easy next week but the rushing effort has never done much away from home all year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 15 8 4 3 20
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 15 11 17 24 26 30

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL CLE 0000023011 ***
Ryan averages better than two TDs per game at home, as well as 40-plus yards per game more at home than on the road. With the Browns having given up multiple TD tosses in two of their last three, Ryan should deliver a solid fantasy showing in the Georgia Dome this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL CLE 6012100000 ****
The Browns have been gashed by the likes of Denard Robinson (22-127-1) and Alfred Blue (36-156), making Jackson a viable fantasy option with his usual 15 or so touches.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL CLE 006701000 ***
White's been the more reliable producer of late, and even though Cleveland's corners are playing better they still gave up 148 combined yards to Houston's WR duo last week and 210 & 2 two weeks prior to the Bucs. With Joe Haden likely locking up on Julio Jones, White should again be a solid fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL CLE 006600000 ***
Jones is seeing plenty of targets to offset any issues presented by being covered by Joe Haden this week. It's a tough matchup, but other WR1s have managed to find success this season and Julio remains an every-week fantasy starter.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL CLE 003400000 ***
It's been more than a month since a WR3 posted anything of fantasy note against the Browns, even longer since Douglas made a fantasy splash. No reason to reach for him this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL CLE 002300000 ***
Toilolo hasn't done anything of fantasy note since Week 1, and a change in that MO is unlikely here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CLE 2222 ***
Coming off a pair of four-field goal games, Bryant is benefitting from an offense that's getting him close but not forcing him to settle for PATs. No weather to worry about, Bryant is a decent plug-in option this week.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 STL 27-23 10 @MIN 24-34
2 @SF 19-27 11 GB 20-24
3 @TEN 41-44 12 HOU 31-34
4 MIN 13-20 13 IND 33-35
5 BYE ----- 14 @GB 20-27
6 @PHI 26-23 15 @ARI 10-38
7 @CHI 7-13 16 ATL -----
8 SEA 28-24 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC 31-14 ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 270,1
RB Joique Bell 30 3-20
RB Reggie Bush 100,1 3-20
RB Montell Owens 50 1-10
WR Calvin Johnson 10-130,1
WR Golden Tate 3-50
TE Brandon Pettigrew
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions are on a six game slide and while it was bad with so many close losses - getting waxed by the Cardinals was almost unimaginable. The good part is that the final two games are at home but against teams with winning records. There's a chance that the Lions could catch the Falcons on a down week following their big home win over the Giants but the Detroit defense hasn't stopped anyone.

Matt Stafford went flat last week in Arizona but he's usually much less productive in away games. At home he's typically turned in 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns. Against the Texans he threw for 441 yards and two scores and 352 yards and three touchdowns on the Seahawks so it is not so much about the quality of the defense.

Mikel Leshoure is back at home where he scored in each of the last three games there but he rarely has more than 60 rush yards and has almost no role as a receiver. He plays like Michael Turner only with fewer touchdowns and marginally better yardage.

The only thing that matters anymore is getting the record for Calvin Johnson who currently needs just 182 yards to surpass Jerry Rice's 1,848 yards set back in 1995. Breaking 2,000 remains out of reach for a wideout but Johnson has to be a lock to reach the mark with only 92 yards per game needed. He's currently on a seven game streak of 100+ yard efforts and is getting upwards of 20 targets per game. It is the only gift the Lions can give their fans and it will happen in a home game.

On the road after a blowout win at home, have to assume the Falcons defense is not going to be nearly so dominating this week. But on this team all that means is throwing 20 times to Calvin Johnson and letting Leshoure score on a short run when Megatron gets tackled inside the 5-yard line.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 7 13 6 6 5 27
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 11 23 3 20 9 4

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET @NE 0000025021 ***
Fresh off a disappointing 183 and zero performance in Arizona, Stafford heads to the other side of the US to face the Patriots. While New England has allowed multiple TD tossed in three straight, Stafford is 20 yards per game worse on the road and has a definite ceiling to his upside this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Theo Riddick, DET @NE 1004301000 ***
Riddick makes an intriguing fantasy play if Reggie Bush is dinged up once again, based primarily on his pass-catching ability and the 168 RB receiving yards and two RB receiving scores the Patriots have surrendered in the past three games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET @NE 4003300000 ***
Ideally Bell would get the bulk of the work for the Lions as they kept Tom Brady off the field, but he's a bit dinged up and won't see the volume of touches necessary to carve out a significant fantasy helper against New England.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Reggie Bush, DET @NE 3004200000 ***
If Reggie can go he could have some fantasy value in PPR leagues, as the Lions will likely be throwing to keep up and the Patriots have given up their share of receiving yards to opposing backs. Of course, odds are Theo Riddick fills Reggie's shoes once again, so monitor Bush's status leading up to kickoff.
Update: Bush practiced on a limited basis all week and is listed as questionable, neither of which goes a long way towards answering questions about his availability this weekend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @NE 006801000 ***
After holding fantasy value through the first game of Calvin Johnson's return Tate fell off the map last week with just two targets in Arizona. He should thrive with non-Revis coverage against the Patriots, but he's a bit riskier play than when he was the only show going in Detroit.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET @NE 005600000 ***
Megatron has been targeted 27 times in two games since returning from injury, so clearly he's back on Matthew Stafford's radar. He'll see plenty of attention from Bill Belichick this week, but that volume of opportunity should still allow him to carve out a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET @NE 004300000 ***
It's a definite opportunity for Ebron, as the Patriots have allowed a TE TD or 100-plus yards to the position in five straight games. So if you're streaming at the position, he's a quality alternative.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @NE 2222 ***
The Lions finally have a kicker settling in, as Prater has three straight multiple field goal games. However, a road trip to New England doesn't feel like an opportunity for him to extend that roll.

WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

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