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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 9 CIN at MIA (THU) KC at BUF PIT at NE CHI at GB (MON)
ATL at CAR MIN at DAL SD at WAS On Bye:
BAL at CLE NO at NYJ TB at SEA ARI, DEN, DET
*UPDATED IND at HOU PHI at OAK TEN at STL JAC, NYG, SF

Prediction: ATL 13, CAR 31 (Line: CAR by 7.5)

Players of Interest: Steven Jackson, Jonathan Stewart

Update: Jonathan Stewart will make his debut but will be have his workload limited. This takes a bad situation and just makes it all worse. Or maybe worthless. Roddy White will be a game time decision and won't be 100% if he plays. He was held out all week and only managed one limited practice on Friday.

The 2-5 Falcons are struggling and now hit the road where they are 0-3. The 4-3 Panthers have won three games in a row. It's almost as if these teams have traded places from last year. This is only the third road game for the Falcons and just the second one since the season opener.

These teams traded home wins in 2012. The Panthers won 30-20 in the game played in Carolina.

1 @NO 17-23 10 SEA -
2 STL 31-24 11 @TB -
3 @MIA 23-27 12 NO -
4 NE 23-30 13 @BUF -
5 NYJ 28-30 14 @GB -
6 BYE WEEK 15 WAS -
7 TB 31-23 16 @SF -
8 @ARI 13-27 17 CAR -
9 @CAR - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 270,1
RB Steven Jackson 40 4-30
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 10 4-30
WR Drew Davis 4-60
WR Harry Douglas 8-80
TE Levine Toilolo 1-10,1
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons continue to struggle to mount enough offense to counter what the defense is giving away. Steven Jackson returned last week but was no help and defenses have figured out that all they really need to do is cover Tony Gonzalez. There is nothing easy about the remaining schedule and the Falcons have already gone through the lighter part with just two wins - home games against the Rams and Buccaneers.

QUARTERBACKS: While the offense struggles to win games, the fault does not lie with Matt Ryan who scored in every game this year and only once failed to throw two touchdowns - just last week in Arizona. Always being behind helps prompt more passing and Ryan already turned in five different games over 300 yards passing. Though he is productive, his worst games have been away from Atlanta.

RUNNING BACKS: Steven Jackson returned for the loss to the Cardinals but only ran the ball 11 times for a total of six yards and added three catches for just seven yards. Not a good sign. 14 touches only gained 13 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers came up big in the last two home games but almost entirely disappeared with Jackson back. He was limited to only two catches for 11 yards and two short runs. Back on the road, this rushing attack continues to be a problem that Jackson was supposed to solve. He'll improve no doubt but facing the Panthers and then the Seahawks probably won't help.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Julio Jones is on IR and Roddy White remains out with his ankle and hamstring issues. HC Mike Smith so far has not indicated that White is ready to play so I'll exclude him from the projections until positive reports say otherwise. Harry Douglas turned in his second straight 100 yard game and benefits from the defenses opting to cover Gonzalez first. Drew Davis replaced White and ended with a touchdown on his five catches for 77 yards. Davis is a second-year player who has been little-used until last week. As an indicator of preference, Ryan threw 18 passes to Douglas who caught 12 for 121 yards. He threw eight to Gonzo who only caught three and then seven to Davis who caught the five. Davis is too unknown to assume that last week's good showing was more than just a one-game thing.

TIGHT ENDS: Tony Gonzalez is playing his final year and at least he won't have to worry about being lonely since every secondary is now hopelessly devoted to stopping him. Over the last two weeks, Gonzo only caught five passes for 56 yards. Not a favorable sign and solid defenses on the immediate schedule are likely to just repeat this way to stop the Falcons offense.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Yeah this is going to be an issue. The Panthers have only allowed six passing scores all year and never more than one to any team. Worse yet, only two over the three home games so far. The yardage can be healthy but the scoring just never happens. No reason to expect the injury-ravaged Falcons to be the first. The Panthers also have limited to all running backs to only two rushing scores on the year. No tight end has scored in Carolina this year or eve gained more than 42 yards. Downgrade all the Falcon players this week.

WHAT TO WATCH: Steven Jackson has to become a factor and very soon. The season has all but slipped away by this point and the aging Jackson might be seeing his career end with a whimper.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 7 6 11 7 17 26
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 3 16 8 16 6 14

 

1 SEA 7-12 10 @SF -
2 @BUF 23-24 11 NE -
3 NYG 38-0 12 @MIA -
4 BYE WEEK 13 TB -
5 @ARI 6-22 14 @NO -
6 @MIN 35-10 15 NYJ -
7 STL 30-15 16 NO -
8 @TB 31-13 17 @ATL -
9 ATL - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 30,1 240,2
RB Jonathan Stewart 30
RB DeAngelo Williams 30 1-10
WR Jerricho Cotchery 4-40
TE Greg Olsen 4-60,1
PK Graham Gano 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons may be floundering but the Panthers are getting better every week it seems. Three straight wins with 30+ points in each and each won by at least 15 points. Granted - the opponents were only the Vikings, Rams and Buccaneers but this week is just the visiting Falcons. It gets a lot tougher after this week but this should be yet another solid win in the same vein as the last three weeks.

QUARTERBACKS: Cam Newton is hard to peg from week to week. He has been at his best against the weakest of defenses. He's scored two or three passing touchdowns on the Giants, Vikings and Buccaneers along with a rushing score in each game. He's been far less productive when going against good defenses. That would be perfectly consistent except for week seven when he only passed for 204 yards and one score against the visiting Rams. This week at home should be a big week so long as he doesn't mail it in as he did in the Rams game.

Newton passed for 287 yards and two scores on the visiting Falcons last year and added 86 rush yards and one more touchdown.

RUNNING BACKS: Jonathan Stewart returned to practice last week and the Panthers have two weeks to activate him from the PUP list. He is expected to play at least a limited role this week. DeAngelo Williams finally scored for the first time this year but he'll be sharing the load when Stewart returns and that divides up an already mediocre rushing effort even more. Michael Tolbert remains the third down back and he's scored five times this year but rarely has much yardage. Williams injured his quad last week but is expected back.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The Panthers are unchanged week-to-week. Steve Smith always gains between 40 and 60 yards per game and scores on the rare occasion. Brandon LaFell is a nonfactor unless facing a truly terrible secondary. Ted Ginn Jr. is not above a bad game but comes off a season best 80 yards in Tampa Bay. It is a marginal set of wideouts that never improve.

TIGHT ENDS: Greg Olsen scored on the Buccaneers but that was only his second touchdown of the year. He only gained 21 yards and rarely turns in more than 50 in any game. Just another marginal receiver.

Olsen caught six passes for 89 yards and a score on the Falcons last year.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Falcons woes in the secondary continue and so far every opponent passes for at least two touchdowns. The Falcons are decent against the run and the Panthers are mediocre at best and probably splitting up the workload even more if Stewart returns. Newton is a must start and while it is risky, the Carolina receivers are bound to have a better game here.

WHAT TO WATCH: If Jonathan Stewart returns, he could spark something in the backfield but have to expect at best it will require several games for him to get back into the groove and they'll make him share anyway.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 8 20 22 19 18 13
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 25 11 29 14 32 4

WEEK 9 CIN at MIA (THU) KC at BUF PIT at NE CHI at GB (MON)
ATL at CAR MIN at DAL SD at WAS On Bye:
BAL at CLE NO at NYJ TB at SEA ARI, DEN, DET
*UPDATED IND at HOU PHI at OAK TEN at STL JAC, NYG, SF


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