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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  

Sortable Player Projections | Game Predictions Summary | Projections by Team

NYJ at DEN (thu) * CIN at BAL PHI at NYG * TEN at ATL
* ARI at SF * DAL at WAS SD at CHI KC at NE (mon)
* BUF at MIA * JAC at CLE SEA at STL Bye Week

Prediction: CAR 20, DET 24

Players to Watch: Cam Newton on the road, Kevin Smith

Update: Calvin Johnson was not bothered by his neck injury and is fine to play this week. His projections have been upgraded.

The Panthers are 2-7 and on a two game losing streak. The loss to the visiting Titans last week made the Panthers look how we initially expected with a rookie quarterback not knowing Cam Newton. The Panthers are 0-3 on the road. The Lions are 6-3 and come off a humbling loss last week as well.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @ARI 21-28 10 TEN 3-30
2 GB 23-30 11 @DET -
3 JAC 16-10 12 @IND -
4 @CHI 29-34 13 @TB -
5 NO 27-30 14 ATL -
6 @ATL 17-31 15 @HOU -
7 WAS 33-20 16 TB -
8 MIN 21-24 17 @NO -
9 Bye -      
Panthers Report | Statistics | Roster
CAROLINA at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 50,1 - 220,1
RB DeAngelo Williams 60 - -
RB Jonathan Stewart 50 10 -
TE Greg Olsen - 50 -
WR Brandon LaFell - 30 -
WR Steve Smith - 80,1 -
WR Legedu Naanee - 50 -
PK Olindo Mare 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Panthers took a whipping by the Titans that will be hard to shrug off but the Panthers are now hitting the tough part of their schedule. The next seven games only contains two home games and the struggles on the road are not going to get any better (though @IND is an exception). The offense slowed to a crawl last week because the Titans were able to take Steve Smith out of the equation and that kills the passing offense. The offense is not progressing since the first month and that will become more apparent away from Carolina.

QUARTERBACK: It had to happen eventually. Cam Newton had a bonafide bad game. His first ever with no touchdowns of any kind and just 212 pass yards. What is troubling now is that Newton has been less effective in road games but has only had three all year. He was great in the season opener but then only passed for one score in Chicago and yet rushed in two scores. In Atlanta, Newton had no passing scores and rushed in just one score. The visiting Vikings was a big game but the other three most recent matchups have only produced one passing score.

The Lions have not allowed more than 218 pass yards or one passing score at home this year and Newton is already on a downswing. He could still ring up rushing yards but more than one passing score or moderate pass yards is hard to rely on.

RUNNING BACKS: If you combined DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart together you still would not have that great a running back in terms of production. Only three scores all season and marginal rushing yardage. They don't even do much as receivers in most games. Naturally they do even less on the road.

The Lions are a bit weaker against the run but it gets split into three here anyway and Newton takes the scores. Expect the average game for the formerly powerful backfield of the Panthers.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Steve Smith is still the king here even if Cortland Finnegan held him to just 33 yards in the Titans loss. SMith was on a streak before that game and the Lions do not have a shut down corner anyway. Smith has five games over 100 yards and his two biggest efforts came in away venues. Legedu Naanee and Brandon LaFell are still outside of any fantasy significance and account for only two scores between with almost no games over 60 yards. An oddity - those three wide receivers are the only one that have caught a pass in Carolina. Not a place to be #4 on the depth chart.

The Lions defense is better but they are not as good as they may seem - they have not played many decent passing teams so far. And still they allowed a few 100 yard games and five scores to the position. If a touchdown is going to happen, the odds are great it ends up with Smith who should be able to turn in at least decent yardage with a change for a bigger game.

TIGHT ENDS:Jeremy Shockey injured his ribs and may not play this week. He has been a very marginal producer anyway and has no fantasy value. Greg Olsen still bangs around 50 yards in most games and has four touchdowns on the year. He's the next most likely to score after Smith but his yardage is low enough that he hurts a fantasy team if there is no touchdown.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 2 28 13 3 22 31
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 7 7 8 7 30 21
Advantage +31 to -31 CAR 5 -21 -5 4 8 -10

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 27-20 10 @CHI 13-37
2 KC 48-3 11 CAR -
3 @MIN 26-23 12 GB -
4 @DAL 34-30 13 @NO -
5 CHI 24-13 14 MIN -
6 SF 19-25 15 @OAK -
7 ATL 16-23 16 SD -
8 @DEN 45-10 17 @GB -
9 Bye -      
Lions Report | Statistics | Roster
DETROIT vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford - - 260,2
RB Maurice Morris 60,1 10 -
RB Kevin Smith 40 10 -
TE Brandon Pettigrew - 30 -
WR Calvin Johnson - 90,1 -
WR Titus Young - 50,1 -
WR Nate Burleson - 60 -
PK Jason Hanson 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Lions are stumbling lately with three losses over the last four games but back at hoe should be good enough for this week. The temptation will be to look ahead to the visiting Packers the following weekend but the Lions remain in contention for the postseason even with Jahvid Best still out with a concussion, Matt Stafford sporting a fractured finger on his throwing hand and now apparently an undisclosed head or neck injury to Calvin Johnson. The loss of Johnson may be that final straw if he ends up missing any time.

QUARTERBACK: Matthew Stafford played last week with a fractured index finger and he claimed the injury was not the reason for the four interceptions in Chicago. Stafford did pass for 329 yards and one score in the game with a personal record 63 passes . Stafford has scored in every game this year but two of the last three only produced a single score while all others had multiples. Stafford has passed for 20 touchdowns already this year.

Perhaps no less and likely of more concern is the status of Calvin Johnson who Stafford said was no lock to play this week.

The Panthers are better against the pass though mostly because teams usually run against them with great success. The Lions do not really have that luxury anymore. There is more risk in relying on Stafford with a hurt finger and potentially no Johnson. But most decent quarterbacks post a few scores and high yardage on the Panthers who have really faced a lot of marginal teams along the way.

RUNNING BACKS: Jahvid Best remains out and did not even attend the last game. Keiland Williams lost the #2 role when the Lions have settled on Maurice Morris as the primary back and Kevin Smith as the support rusher. Smith signed with the Lions last week and carried four times for 19 yards and even caught two passes for ten yards. The problem this week is that the Panthers are very weak against the run and there could be some nice fantasy points here but for who? Morris has been the main runner but he's hardly been that impressive and Kevin Smith still had tags on his uniform when they rushed him onto the field in the Bears game.

Pending any more info from practices, Morris remains the primary and Smith supports him but this could be a game where either could score and have decent yardage. The Panthers have only had three road games and allowed five rushing touchdowns in those along with major rushing yardage. Smith is an interesting desperation play and yet Morris is now a risky start.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Unfortunately the Lions are going to be evasive about the status of Calvin Johnson who obviously has a big bearing on this game. Johnson is always a lock for a nice game at home. Titus Young has been a bigger factor in the last two games when he turned in 4-66 and 7-74 with a score against the Broncos as his first of his career. Nate Burleson gained a freakish 83 yards on eight catches in Chicago when he has been far less productive in every other game.

I will assume that Johnson can play for now and update as warranted. If he cannot, Young becomes a nice play this week though the Panthers secondary has been quite good. And again - partially because teams run so well on them. This whole unit is a risk to rely on this week beyond moderate yardage.

TIGHT ENDS: There is only marginal fantasy value here because both Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler share the workload. Pettigrew has the most yardage but Scheffler has more touchdowns including a score in the last two matchups. The second passing score will end up either here or with a running back but that's too risky to assign.

Gaining Fantasy Points DET 6 22 4 6 7 3
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 11 31 6 15 27 26
Advantage +31 to -31 DET 5 9 2 9 20 23

NYJ at DEN (thu) CIN at BAL PHI at NYG TEN at ATL
ARI at SF DAL at WAS SD at CHI KC at NE (mon)
BUF at MIA JAC at CLE SEA at STL Bye Week

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