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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 1
September 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Thu 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
NYJ at WAS DEN at CIN MIN at GB ATL at DAL OAK at TEN
Sun 1 PM HOU at MIA NE at BUF CHI at SF Mon 9 PM
ARZ at DET IND at CLE SD at KC NO at SEA TB at PHI
BAL at PIT JAX at CAR STL at NYG Times EST no byes
   
Arizona vs Detroit Sun, Sep 7; 1 PM on FOX at Ford Field
  Arizona Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Blake 10 0 230,1
RB Emmitt Smith 70,1 10 0
RB Marcell Shipp 30 10 0
TE Freddie Jones 0 30 0
WR Bryan Gilmore 0 70,1 0
WR Larry Foster 0 60 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 40 0
  Detroit Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 220,2
RB Shawn Bryson 50 0 0
RB Olandis Gary 40 0 0
TE Mikhael Ricks 0 20 0
WR Bill Schroeder 0 70,1 0
WR Az-Zahir Hakim 0 Q 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 90,1 0


Game Prediction: ARZ 20, DET 17

Update: Hakim's knee surgery is still slow to heal and he has been listed as questionable. He is unlikely to play and if he does, his production as the speedy slot player will be hindered.

The Cardinals start the season with Emmitt Smith on the roster mainly to put people in the stands and Jeff Blake is there to make them wonder why they are staying. The only strength in the Cardinals offense for 2002 was the running of Marcel Shipp so the natural, apparently, thing to do would be replace Shipp and allow Jake Plummer, David Boston, Frank Sanders and Martay Jenkins to leave via free agency. Does this sound like a recipe for success? Does this sound like building for the future in making the oldest starting running back your main acquisition?

Arizona now employs Jeff Blake, who suffered a concussion last week on the first play of the game, and has perhaps the greatest assembly of no-name receivers on any team in the past decade. Bryan Gilmore is slated to start opposite Larry Foster since both have actually worn a uniform inside an NFL stadium. Gilmore has been a nice surprise after fracturing his leg last season and may provide a bright spot for the Cardinals. Their 17th overall draft pick of Bryant Johnson has been disappointing so far and he is falling on the depth chart while second round pick Anquan Boldin has been good enough to likely be used as a #3 receiver.

Throw in Kevin Kasper and Jason McAddley into the mix and determining who receives for Arizona will be just as challenging as last season when injuries decimated their squad and forced them to rely on McAddley and a small but wiry beer vendor that fit into a spare helmet.

Emmitt is the starter but will be spelled by Shipp largely according to what Emmitt wants. Look for a ratio of about 3:1 to start the season but for that ratio to likely fall during the season. This is not a team you want to hang your fantasy hopes on this year, even if they will be throwing the ball a lot. The Cardinals lost CB Duane Starks and the defense is shaping up to be even worse than last season.

The Cardinals actually compare favorably to the Mariucci Lions in the same way that choosing the manner of your execution is appealing. Joey Harrington returns from his inconsistent rookie season and while his irregular heartbeat is under control now, he has still shown some trouble picking up the nuances of Mariucci's complicated offense. Unlike the Cardinals, Harrington was actually given a few talented receivers to use with first round coverboy Charles Rogers and Bill Schroeder, along with Az-Zahir Hakim who returns to the slot where he should have never left. Both Schroeder and Hakim return from injury problems but should be fine for this game.

The passing game will be important too since James Stewart did an early exit by separating his shoulder and leaving behind no apparent backup. Shawn Bryson will most likely get the start and Avon Cobourne and Olandis Gary will help but the ratios and success remain to be seen. This will be a crucial game to follow for fantasy teams if only to see who might have success running in Detroit. With a green quarterback in Harrington, a rookie receiver and two often-injured pass catchers in Hakim and Schroeder, the Detroit offense is not expected to replicate Mariucci's success in San Francisco this season.

The Lions also lost CB Chris Cash to an ACL/MCL injury which weakens the secondary.

This is like going to watch a friend's high school game where you do not recognize players but know that there will be some good plays if only from bad defense. This early in the season, it is hard to determine who will be the biggest beneficiary but two of the worst teams in the league meet and one has to win. Look for the Cardinals to squeak past thanks to a slightly more cohesive offense that has less confusion. Both teams will come out of the game looking better than they really are.

 

 

Comparison Stats
Starting Week Two

 

 

Cardinals (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @DET
Week 2 SEA
Week 3 GB
Week 4 @STL
Week 5 @DAL
Week 6 BAL
Week 7 BYE
Week 8 SF
Week 9 CIN
Week 10 @PIT
Week 11 @CLE
Week 12 STL
Week 13 @CHI
Week 14 @SF
Week 15 CAR
Week 16 @SEA
Week 17 MIN
Lions(0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 ARZ
Week 2 @GB
Week 3 MIN
Week 4 @DEN
Week 5 @SF
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 DAL
Week 8 @CHI
Week 9 OAK
Week 10 CHI
Week 11 @SEA
Week 12 @MIN
Week 13 GB
Week 14 SD
Week 15 @KC
Week 16 @CAR
Week 17 STL
(Statistics are game averages from current season )