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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: TB 17, ATL 27 (Line: ATL by 3)

Players to Watch: Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin

The 13-2 Falcons have wrapped up the #1 seed with all the rights and benefits therein. That makes them very susceptible to resting players though they have not yet admitted the possibility. They will want to keep players fresh of course but a full sixty minutes in a meaningless game? The 6-9 Buccaneers are on a five game losing streak but in week 12, they only lost to the Falcons 23-24. This game could go a number of ways. The better team won't really care about the outcome and the worse team may not be able to do anything about it anyway. The Falcons are 7-0 at home this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CAR 16-10 10 SD 34-24
2 @NYG 34-41 11 @CAR 27-21
3 @DAL 10-16 12 ATL 23-24
4 WAS 22-24 13 @DEN 23-31
5 BYE ----- 14 PHI 21-23
6 KC 38-10 15 @NO 0-41
7 NO 28-35 16 STL 13-28
8 @MIN 36-17 17 @ATL -----
9 @OAK 42-32 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Doug Martin 100,1 4-30
WR Vincent Jackson 4-80
PK Connor Barth 1 FG 2 XP
PK Rian Lindell 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: There has been definite progress made in HC Greg Schiano's first season though it doesn't much feel like it currently. The Bucs were only 4-12 last season with a 207 point differential between them and their opponents. This year is nearly even (367-377) and there have been a few additions that are very notable.

Doug Martin has already rushed for 1312 yards and scored 11 touchdowns along with 45 receptions for 454 yards. He has a 4.5 yard per carry average and that is impressive considering the Buccaneers have really struggled in recent road games such as the nine carries for 16 yards he gained in New Orleans. Martin has sent LeGarrette Blount to the bench and become one of the rare workhorse backs in the league.

Marin only gained 50 yards on 21 carries versus the Falcons this year but scored twice.

Josh Freeman is still a work in process but he did have nine games with multiple scores and was posting bigger numbers earlier in the season. His last two games have been killers though - only one touchdown total and yet eight interceptions. Better to do those early in the year than late when they'll hang there all off-season. Freeman only threw eight interceptions over his first 13 games.

Freeman passed for 256 yards against the Falcons in week 12 and it was a rare game with no passing touchdown.

The other notable has been Vincent Jackson who has continued to shine even during the less productive games from Freeman. Jackson has scored eight times this year and topped 90 yards in seven different games. He ended with 96 yards on five catches in the previous Falcons tilt. His success has also brought Mike Williams back to life with 931 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. The passing game is largely limited to the two starting wideouts but they have been more prolific than any duo for the Buccaneers in many years.

The big thing here is that the Falcons have nothing to win having secured the #1 seed. That could well mean a nice game here by Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin and even Mike Williams if only later in the game when the Falcons have gotten their "keep ya fresh" reps and hand off to second-stringers. Hard to rely on but a realistic chance of happening.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 13 11 9 25 14 22
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 10 25 7 22 12 3

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Mike Glennon, TB @NO 0000016001 ***
Glennon has been shut out in his last two road games and hasn't seen the north side of 250 yards since Week 8. Josh Freeman mustered just 125 yards and a score in the earlier meeting with New Orleans; now Glennon travels to the SuperDome, where expectations should be kept in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bobby Rainey, TB @NO 6002100000 ***
Doug Martin rolled the Saints for a season-high 144 yards back in Week 2; since then Mike James took Seattle for 158 and Bobby Rainey dropped 163 on Atlanta and 127 on the Bills. Both of Rainey's efforts came at home, however, so dial back your expectations for this trip to the SuperDome.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Vincent Jackson, TB @NO 005700000 **
Jackson posted 5-77 against the Saints earlier this season, but Kevin Ogletree swiped his touchdown. No worries; over the past six games V-Jax has dominated the Bucs' passing game stat sheet with 527 yards and three TDs. He's heavily targeted and worthy of fantasy consideration even when the matchup seems tough.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, TB @NO 004400000 ***
Wright wasn't even on the radar when these teams met back in Week 2. Now he's scored in two of the last three and is one of the team's top secondary targets. Three of the five TE TDs the Saints have allowed have come in the past six games, so there's at least a chance Wright makes some fantasy noise here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Rian Lindell, TB @NO 3200 ***
Lindell's worst game of the season came at home against the Saints back in Week 2; don't expect things to get significantly better on the road against a Saints team playing for its playoff life.

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 31-18
8 @PHI 30-17 17 TB -----
9 DAL 19-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 230,2
RB Steven Jackson 50 2-20
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 40 5-30
WR Harry Douglas 3-40
WR Julio Jones 4-60,1
WR Roddy White 3-40
TE Tony Gonzalez 4-40,1
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Taking down the Giants and then the Lions in dominating fashion has left the Falcons with nothing to play for this week though as always the word is that they will try really hard and care what happens. They are 7-0 at home and the Buccaneers are struggling more in recent weeks. But it does cast a light of concern for the notable fantasy starters on the Atlanta team. They will get a week off so you do not want to sit around for two weeks and get stale. But you do not want anyone to get injured.

Roddy White is nursing a sore knee and has been missing practices. He only managed two catches for 16 yards against the Giants and then after missing practice all week, he crushed the Lions with 153 yards and two scores. White only gained 57 yards on five catches in the last meeting with the Bucs. It would make a lot of sense to give him most if not all of this game off to rest a knee that has not only been sore for a few weeks but that they hope to be using for another four games.

White is now one of only five players ever to record six straight years of 80 catches and 1,000 yards.

Michael Turner is another concern since the 30-year old back has been marginally effective in recent weeks and could be served with some down time to refresh his legs. Turner already has ten touchdowns this year but is only gaining 3.6 yards per carry. He ran for only 17 yards on 13 carries in Tampa Bay. Turner is a lock for one touchdown in a home game but his yardage is rarely significant.

Jacquizz Rodgers could use more work and he did score his only touchdown on the season when he ran for 49 yards on ten carries in Tampa Bay. Matt Ryan passed for 353 yards and one score in that game but was sacked just once.

This is a team rife with elite offensive players and yet with nothing to play for and already at home, what they'll do may have less to do with matching to a defense than it does keeping the team sharp and yet healthy. It will be a risk to rely on more than moderate showings by any of these players though Roddy White may be even more likely to see reduced snaps this week to rest his knee.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 17 5 4 3 20
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 31 12 31 29 8 17

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL CAR 0000028011 ***
Ryan threw for 219 & 1 in the earlier meeting with the Panthers, but that was in Carolina. Then again, venue hasn't mattered much to the Panthers, who have allowed only one multiple passing TD game all season. Ryan just took the 49ers for 348 & 2 in San Francisco so all is not lost, but with Carolina playing for a playoff spot it's tough to see Ryan having much success here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL CAR 5003200000 ***
Jackson has six touchdowns in his last four games--a little late for those looking to him as a fantasy RB1 or even RB2 back on draft day, but you take what you can get. However, He mustered just 57 yards (and no TDs) on 13 carries in the earlier meeting with Carolina and is unlikely to dent a Panthers defense that's given up one RB rushing TD in the past 11 games and four RB TDs all year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL CAR 005600000 ***
White has seen double-digit targets in three of the last four games, resulting in some old-school Roddy White numbers: 12-141-1, 8-74, 10-143. He didn't play in the earlier meeting with Carolina, but he had 100-plus yards and a score in both ends of last season's series and has scored in three straight against the Panthers. While his prognosis is less optimistic against a Carolina defense that's allowed just three WR TDs in the past 13 games, at least there's a chance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Drew Davis, ATL CAR 002300000 ***
Davis had a brief moment when both Julio Jones and Roddy White were out of the lineup and he was wingman to Harry Douglas. Jones is back, the matchup is tough, and Davis goes back in the bargain bin.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL CAR 003300000 ***
Douglas had 82 yards in the earlier matchup with Carolina--a pretty good WR game against the Panthers--but he's been relatively quiet the past month while Roddy White has returned to WR1 status in Atlanta so keep your expectations in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Tony Gonzalez, ATL CAR 0091201000 *****
Gonzo had 6-81-1 in the earlier matchup with Carolina; now he's scored in four straight and catches the Panthers having given up 239 yards and four TDs to the position in just the past three outings. Maybe the season didn't go quite as Gonzo had hoped, but he's certainly closing his Canton-worthy career with a flourish.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CAR 2211 ***
Bryant has one double-digit effort in the past three months and posted just four points in the earlier meeting with Carolina. The Panthers are playing for something, the Falcons are not; unlikely this ends well for Bryant.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

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