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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 TB 0000025021 ****
After facing second- and third-string QBs to start the season, the Bucs might be shocked to see Ryan. He's taken Tampa for 300 yards or multiple TDs in five of the last six meetings, including both last year; don't look for Lovie's Tampa-2 to fare much better.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL TB 601000000 ***
Jackson has been topping out around a dozen carries and 50 or so yards--hardly fantasy-helper numbers. You could expect an uptick against a decimated Bucs d-line that's held DeAngelo Williams and Zac Stacy to 72 and 71 yards, respectively, but you're still barely on the fringe of fantasy respectability, hoping for a pass interference call in the end zone to set you up for a one-yard fall into the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL TB 3001100000 ***
At best Rodgers is sharing the smaller half of the Falcons' backfield pie with the likes of Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman. And while Tampa's defensive front has been hit hard with injuries that's still not enough to suggest he'll be much of a fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL TB 0081101000 ***
Jones missed both ends of this season series last year, but he's scored or topped 100 yards (or both) in three of four career meetings with the Bucs and has scored or topped 100 yards in each game thus far this season. Sounds like a trend worth riding.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL TB 005701000 **
White has topped 75 yards against the Bucs just once in their past 16 meetings, and he hasn't hit that mark yet this season. He has, however, found the end zone and he scored the only time he faced Tampa Bay last season. He's clearly running as WR2 to Julio Jones, but this isn't a bad situation to be running WR2 in.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL TB 004400000 ***
Douglas blew up the Bucs with 6-134-1 and 7-149-1 last season, but Julio Jones missed both outings and Roddy White was available for just one. With both Falcons studs back Douglas is clearly the third wheel, so he's a fringe fantasy option at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL TB 003200000 ****
Given Toilolo's role in this offense you'll need a TD to wring fantasy value out of him. It's something Tony Gonzalez couldn't pull off last year and it's not something you should bank on here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL TB 3333 ****
Only two teams have allowed more field goal attempts thus far this year than the Bucs, so Bryant should have the opportunity to swing his leg 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

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 GB 0000031020 ***
After facing a combined 60 passes from Geno Smith and Russell Wilson, the Packers' secondary will finally be tested: Stafford has averaged 43 pass attempts per game over the last six meetings. And while he's only tossed multiple touchdowns twice in that span he's had at least 262 passing yards, including 520 and 5 late in 2011 and 330 and 3 the last time Green Bay came to town.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET GB 5012200000 ***
Big backs have fared well against the Raji-less Packers front, with Marshawn Lynch and Chris Ivory combining for three TDs and 4.6 yards per carry. Pass-catching backs haven't exactly struggled, either; the Packers gave up an RB receiving score in Week 1 and 65 receiving yards to Jets backs last week. Bell was limited in practice earlier in the week with a knee issue; if he's good to go by the weekend he should capitalize in both of those arenas--much like the 19-94-1/3-34 line he posted on the Pack the last time they came to town.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Reggie Bush, DET GB 4006600000 ***
Bush's role in this offense has been de-emphasized, so a repeat of last season's 182 yards from scrimmage in the back end of the season series seems unlikely--unless Joique Bell's knee issues force the Lions to load Reggie up with more touches than he's been seeing thus far this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET GB 0071102000 ***
Megatron has reached triple-digit yardage in half of his meetings with Green Bay, including his last four straight; he's also scored in three-fourths of those contests, including four of the last five. After letting Eric Decker and Ricardo Lockette find the end zone against them, it's hard to imagine the Packers secondary keeping Johnson from hitting both of those marks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET GB 006700000 ***
Tate scored twice* the last time he faced the Packers, and that was in Seattle where they throw the ball about half as much as they do in Detroit. Tate's 14 targets through two games as Megatron's wingman speak to his role, and while expectations shouldn't be gaudy a solid outing should be in store.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET GB 002300000 ***
The Lions' tight end production still seems fractured, though Ebron stepped to the fore last week. Green Bay hasn't faced much in the way of pass-catching tight ends, but until Ebron's role in this offense is more stable he can't be trusted with a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nate Freese, DET GB 3233 ***
The Lions were auditioning kickers this week; by the time you read this Freese may be an ex-Lion. You'll want something a little more stable for your fantasy lineup.

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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