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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 5
October 1, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM *TEN at NE Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
*ARZ at DAL *MIN at ATL DET at SF *CLE at PIT Ravens
CIN at BUF *NO at CAR WAS at PHI Mon 9 PM Texans
*DEN at KC OAK at CHI *SD at JAX *IND at TB Jets
MIA at NYG SEA at GB   *updated Rams
   
Minnesota vs Atlanta Sun, Oct 5; 1 PM on FOX at Georgia Dome
  Minnesota Rush Catch Pass
QB Gus Frerotte 0 0 240,2
RB Onterrio Smith 100,1 10 0
RB Moe Williams 60,1 10 0
TE J. Kleinsasser 0 20 0
WR Randy Moss 0 120,1 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 50,1 0
WR Kelly Campbell 0 20 0
  Atlanta Rush Catch Pass
QB Doug Johnson 0 0 160
RB Warrick Dunn 40 30 0
RB T.J. Duckett 60,1 20 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 50 0
WR Quentin McCord 0 20 0
WR Peerless Price 0 30 0


Game Prediction: MIN 31, ATL 13

Update: Peerless Price is still listed as questionable to play with a sore plantar fascia in the arch of his left foot and a neck sprain, but the team is still optimistic that he will be able to play. I am decreasing his numbers slightly as he will not be 100% (and when he was - no gem there). Brian Finneran has returned to practice in a limited capacity as he heals from his broken left hand and while there is a very small chance he might suit up, he is not expected to be a factor if he does so I am not including him.

The Falcons have also suspended their RCB for one game, meaning that Randy Moss will have even less capable coverage. I am increasing the passing numbers and notable is that Nate Burleson will be the #2 receiver in this game. I am bumping his numbers up since Moss will already be attracting more attention than a Playboy photo shoot at Folsom Prison.

Jim Kleinsasser has improved this week from his abdominal contusion and will play.

Mike Tice predicted on a radio show that Onterrio Smith is going to gain 100 yards in the game and the fast carpet in Atlanta will only help his style of running. I am readjusting the rushing numbers in view of Tice's stated committment to Smith this week. This game is shaping up to be a blowout by Minnesota so long as they do not try to mail the game in and favors the running game more with a player like Onterrio who is too new to the game not to try to rack up whatever he can.

The Vikings are now 4-0, have a two game lead in the NFC North and have yet to score less than 23 points in a game. Oh yes, this in spite of losing Michael Bennett and now Daunte Culpepper.

Culpepper took first team snaps before the game to keep the 49ers guessing on who would start and though he was listed as a gametime decision, HC Mike Tice admitted he had already made up his mind prior to Sunday. Gus Frerotte took the start and completed 16 of 21 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns. Frerotte looked like he had been the starter in Minnesota for years thanks to the San Francisco "bend then get turned around" philosophy on defense. Expect Frerotte to play again this week which gives Culpepper two more weeks to mend considering their impending bye week.

Randy Moss was held out of practice last week with a bad back and is lined up for an MRI this week. His physical limitations were evident when he spiked his third touchdown and it barely made it out of the endzone. Then again, after 174 yards in receptions which included another long bomb touchdown called back on penalty, maybe he was just plain tired. An amazing player that makes catching the long ball look about as hard as spending money in a casino.

D'Wayne Bates missed the game due to his foot injury which is not healing well. He will be sent to a specialist this week and both Kelly Campbell and Nate Burleson should fill in again this week as the first players to high five Moss in the endzone.

Jim Kleinsasser has taken over as the only pass catching tight end for the Vikings and he was even allowed a rushing attempt last week that resulted in a twelve yard gain. The Vikes cut Byron Chamberlain this week when he returned from suspension out of shape.

The Vikings defense has also been improved this season, allowing Javon Walker to be the most productive receiver against them with only 84 yards and one score. Last year opponents were gaining that by halftime.

The only reason that the Falcons are not the most disappointing team this season is because the Jets are still searching for that elusive first win. After opening with a win in Dallas and then losing a squeaker to the Redskins, Atlanta is struggling against to avoid critical speed in their free fall this season. In the last two games, Doug Johnson has thrown for only 95 and 152 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Hey Mike - how's that leg thing coming along?

T.J. Duckett was finally given a primary role and responded with 100 yards on only 14 carries but that came at the expense of Warrick Dunn (4-20). Duckett was not nearly enough to change the scoreboard nor even gain enough first downs to keep the chains moving. Dunn has been a leader in Vick's absence and now appears to be demoted in the game plan.

The passing game has become little more than short throws on flare outs and nothing is happening with the deep ball. Peerless Price (5-30) can only dream of 100 yard games and he is the leading receiver this season outside of TE Alge Crumpler (3-76) who has shown some motoring ability in the rare event the Falcons connect down the field.

This week the Vikings have to resist letting down after the big win over San Francisco but there does not seem to be any reason that they could not win this game. The Falcons still have holes in the secondary thanks to injury and get to face Randy Moss. In case that does not work, they have been one of the worst rush defenses in the league as well. In case that doesn't happen, they have little offense outside of running the ball when they should be throwing.

Look for Moss to get one or two big throws while Onterrio Smith and Moe Williams carve up the interior of the Atlanta defense. There will be scoring here, the question is who will get to score next. With Minnesota needing this win to go into their bye week with a perfect record, they will not overlook the Falcons.

MIN
ATL
2003 Averages
ATL
MIN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
241
246
Pass yards
176
221
2.8
1.5
Pass TDs
1.0
0.8
12.5
0.5
Interceptions
2.0
2.8
7
1
Rush yards
0
15
0.5
0.0
Rush TDs
0.3
0.0
----
----
RB's
----
----
108
148
Rush yards
88
75
0.5
1.5
Rush TDs
0.8
0.8
42
47
Receive yards
28
41
0.3
0.3
Receive TD's
0.3
0.0
----
----
WR's
----
----
177
176
Receive yards
79
152
1.8
1.0
Receive TD's
0.3
0.8
----
----
TE's
----
----
22
23
Receive yards
69
28
0.5
0.3
Receive TD's
0.5
0.0
----
----
PK's
----
----
1.3
1.3
Field Goals
1.3
1.3
3.5
3.0
Extra Points
2.0
1.5
----
----
DEF/ST
----
----
0.3
0.3
Fumbles
1.3
1.0
2.8
2.0
Interceptions
0.3
0.3
0.0
0.0
Touchdowns
0.0
0.0
2.5
3.3
Sacks
2.5
2.3
0.0
0.3
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Falcons (1-3)
Score Opp.
27-13 @DAL
31-33 WAS
10-31 TB
3-23 @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
Vikings (4-0)
Score Opp.
30-25 @GB
24-13 CHI
23-13 @DET
35-7 SF
Week 5 @ATL
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 DEN
Week 8 NYG
Week 9 GB
Week 10 @SD
Week 11 @OAK
Week 12 DET
Week 13 @STL
Week 14 SEA
Week 15 @CHI
Week 16 KC
Week 17 @ARZ
(Statistics are game averages from current season )