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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
   
Jacksonville vs Carolina Sun, Sep 7; 1 PM on CBS at Ericsson Stadium
  Jacksonville Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 170,1
RB Fred Taylor 60 20 0
TE Kyle Brady 0 20,1 0
WR J.J. Stokes 0 50 0
WR Matthew Hatchette 0 40 0
  Carolina Rush Catch Pass
QB Rodney Peete 0 0 200,1
RB Stephen Davis 90,1 10 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 60,1 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 40 0
WR Steve Smith 0 50 0

Game Prediction: JAX 10, CAR 20

Following a time honored tradition, the Jaguars drafted Byron Leftwich with their first pick and have all the intentions of handing him the keys to car. So far, so good. Leftwich has been impressive in his short span on the team (made even shorter with a 19 day holdout), and he has given hope for the future. Problem is that we must deal with the current in order to get there. The Jaguars shopped Mark Brunell and his $6.75 million salary around the league with no takers. Brunell will be the starter this season, though reason and that future thing suggest that eventually Leftwich gets some play.

Fred Taylor comes off a big year in which he played the entire season - the entire season! - even though he was dinged up a bit at the end of the year. Not to worry though, since Fred has always played big in even-numbered years and been injured in odd-numbered years. To set the tone, Taylor has missed three weeks of practice this summer with a bone bruise to his knee. When (or "if" for you optimists) he goes out, no longer is there a James Stewart or Stacey Mack to take over. Mack left via free agency and the Jaguars recently cut Elvis Joseph so only LaBrandon Toefield and Joe Smith are there to take up the slack.

As if a muddled quarterback situation and the curse of Taylor was not enough, the Jaguars were treated to Jimmy Smith's four game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The passing game was sketchy last year with a healthy Taylor and Jimmy Smith. Without him for the first month, Brunell will earn his living trying to find 49er castoff J.J. Stokes and Matthew Hatchette. While it is likely that Jacksonville will have to throw to stay competitive, Houston and Arizona proved last year that an absence of receivers makes doing that successfully much tougher than it seems.

The Jaguars are changing to be sure - only 27 of the 53 players from last year's final roster are still with the team. Now there's a team in transition. It just remains to be seen that the offense will be any better.

The Panthers return the NFL's second best defense this year, though they are forced to also bring along their second worst offense in the league as well. There is hope that the offense will perform better this season. Stephen Davis takes the rushing reins and should challenge his durability from the sheer volume of carries he could get this year. Davis fits very well into the conservative offense and the plan is to add some ball control, smashmouth offense to a solid defense.

The Panthers tried to upgrade at receivers by acquiring Kevin Dyson who is currently on the Physically Unable to Play list where he belongs. He is unlikely to return this season and instead Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith will again start, along with some help from new team mate Ricky Proehl. The Panthers also have a seventh round draft pick in Walter Young who has been turning heads in training camp but is unlikely to do much this season.

The Panthers defense should be enough to win this game by keying on Taylor and daring Brunell to find Stokes and Hatchette. This should be more of a ground it out game though both defenses can stop the run. This game should provide the lowest score in week one.

 

Comparative Stats
Starting Week Two

 

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