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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
   
Atlanta vs Dallas Sun, Sep 7; 4 PM on FOX at Texas Stadium
  Atlanta Rush Catch Pass
QB Doug Johnson 0 0 220,1
RB Warrick Dunn 70,1 30 0
RB T.J. Duckett 40 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 30,1 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 50 0
WR Peerless Price 0 70 0
WR Quentin McCord 0 20 0
  Dallas Rush Catch Pass
QB Quincy Carter 20 0 190,1
RB Richie Anderson 10 20 0
RB Troy Hambrick 60,1 10 0
TE Dan Campbell 0 20 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 70,1 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 50 0

Game Prediction: ATL 20, DAL 14

Atlanta was the favorite by many to make the Superbowl this season after a surprising 2002. The big difference last season was Michael Vick who served notice that the product was up to the hype - a rarity these days. Vick then jeopardized that 2003 outlook when he laid on the field with a broken right ankle in the preseason game against the Ravens. Vick will return this season - possibly as early as week 5, but regardless his absence changes the entire offense for Atlanta, as well as the way the opponents will prepare for the Falcons.

Doug Johnson will serve as a good replacement until Vick returns and while he will not showcase running skills like Vick, he is an accurate passer and should hold down the fort with no real problems. His role is made easier this season than it would have been in 2002, since the Falcons added Peerless Price to significantly upgrade the receivers. With Price stretching the defenses, look for Brian Finneran to maintain good numbers from last season while Quentin McCord will play as the #3 receiver.

Warrick Dunn will be counted on more heavily in the running game the first month with Vick out but will get help from T.J. Duckett who will try to spend his sophomore season more healthy than last year. Dunn is planned to be used for more passes out of the backfield while Vick is there and with Johnson, he'll likely need to stay home a bit more to help block in passing situations. The plan is to use both Duckett and Dunn in the same backfield more this year.

Alge Crumpler may benefit the most from having Price there to clear out the safeties from the middle of the field. Since Reggie Kelly left in free agency, Crumpler should turn in a nice year as a valuable outlet for both Johnson and Vick.

Bill Parcells returned for yet another run at the Superbowl only this time he starts out with less than ever before. There is no pretense in Dallas of a dramatic turnaround and certainly neither Parcells or Jerry Jones expects that in the first season of admitting the 1990's have ended.

Parcells finally nodded at Quincy Carter as the starting quarterback which given the offensive line was a great move since only Carter can run away from trouble. Chad Hutchinson has not proven to be a rekindled Troy Aikman regardless of the similarities in appearance. Carter's job this year will be to operate the offense efficiently, minimize mistakes by throwing the ball away or taking off on a run and occasionally take advantage of a strong arm with deep throws. Hutchinson has not improved this summer and is actually more in a fight with Tony Romo for the #2 quarterback slot.

Troy Hambrick finally gets his long awaited shot at being the first new Cowboy starting running back since Emmitt Smith was drafted in 1991. He is still an unknown for the most part, rushing little in the preseason until the final game last week where he looked all world against a Raiders team that played with all the emotion and focus of a DMV worker the day before retirement. Still, he showed a few actual moves and decent speed. Parcells will give him the opportunities but also use FB Richie Anderson and probably Aveion Cason for some different flavor.

The Cowboys actually have a nice set of receivers in Joey Galloway and Antonio Bryant, with Terry Glenn ready to come in at any time. Parcells will feature what ever part of the offense is working the best and given the tough schedule, the receiving game will matter at least in the second half of most games. Bryant will miss this game as he heals from a slight tear in his quadricep and Terry Glenn will cover for him.

The Cowboys would love a win for Parcells in his first game, but the Falcon defense will play tough and while a new offense always presents some problems to a defense, the rough edges for Dallas will show. This game should be a bit higher scoring than will later prove the norm, but in the end the Falcons will present a more veteran, better stocked effort.

 

Comparison Stats
Starting Week Two

 

Falcons (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @DAL
Week 2 WAS
Week 3 TB
Week 4 @CAR
Week 5 MIN
Week 6 @STL
Week 7 NO
Week 8 BYE
Week 9 PHI
Week 10 @NYG
Week 11 @NO
Week 12 TEN
Week 13 @HOU
Week 14 CAR
Week 15 @IND
Week 16 @TB
Week 17 JAX
Cowboys (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 ATL
Week 2 @NYG
Week 3 BYE
Week 4 @NYJ
Week 5 ARZ
Week 6 PHI
Week 7 @DET
Week 8 @TB
Week 9 WAS
Week 10 BUF
Week 11 @NE
Week 12 CAR
Week 13 MIA
Week 14 @PHI
Week 15 @WAS
Week 16 NYG
Week 17 @NO
(Statistics are game averages from current season )