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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 6
October 8, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM *TB at WAS Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
*CAR at IND MIA at JAX *BUF at NYJ SF at SEA Cincinnati
CHI at NO *NYG at NE *PIT at DEN Mon 9 PM Detroit
HOU at TEN OAK at CLE Sun 4 PM *ATL at STL Minnesota
KC at GB PHI at DAL *BAL at ARZ *updated San Diego
   
Carolina vs Indianapolis Sun, Oct 12; 1 PM on FOX at RCA Dome
  Carolina Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 150
RB Stephen Davis 120,1 0 0
TE Mike Seidman 0 20 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 40 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 30 0
WR Steve Smith 0 30 0
  Indianapolis Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 260,2
RB Ricky Williams 50,1 0 0
RB Edgerrin James Q Q Q
TE Marcus Pollard 0 40,1 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 30 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 90,1 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 60 0


Game Prediction: CAR 16, IND 24

Update: Here we go again. Reports are very mixed on Edgerrin James. At best, it will be a game-time decision on him though Dungy has sounded somewhat optimistic. On the other hand there is a very real chance that James is held out for one more week so that coupled with the bye week, he will get maximum rest before embarking on the rest of the season.There are some media accounts that say that James has an injury to his transverse process in his back which evidently is the popular injury this season. The Colts certainly did well enough without him in Tampa Bay. If he does not start, and given the questions I am going to assume that he will not, Ricky Williams will get the start again Even if he does play I would expect Williams to get more relief work than normal.

Dominic Rhodes was able to practice on Thursday and could be available but it appears that James Mungro sprained knee will likely keep him out.

Carolina Notes

Quarterbacks: The Panthers are following the old Baltimore plan. Play such dominating defense that the quarterback becomes a middle manager in the game. Jake Delhomme got his job by mounting a tremendous three touchdown effort at the end of the season opener for the first Panther win and has thrown only one since that game. Last week he had only 124 yards passing but a win is a win. The more important factor is that he does not make mistakes and has no interceptions to reduce the chances he gets to hand off to Stephen Davis.

Running backs: There are good free agent pickups and then there is Stephen Davis. Averaging 141 yards per game, Davis had his worst game in week one when he only gained 111 yards. Since then he has 140+ in every game. De'Shaun Foster gets eight to ten carries a game because all the Panthers do is run. After four games, there has been only once that Carolina threw more passes than handoffs to Davis and that was only a 27 to 25 difference. The biggest fear? He gets worn out or you really regret passing on him in the draft.

Wide Receivers: The only receiver that has done anything for Carolina is Muhsin Muhammad and even he has never had more than five catches or 61 yards in a game.

Tight Ends: Like other teams, here is where a small change is likely happening. The rookie Mike Seidman has two catches for 24 yards last week and starter Kris Mangum is primarily a blocker for Davis (along with ten other players). With such minimal throwing there is no great value here, but Seidman is starting to make himself known.

Match against the defense: The Panthers catch a small break by visiting the Colts after that lengthy and emotional comeback win on Monday. They could be tired still.

The Colts rushing defense has still been suspect and allowed good games to Fred Taylor (17-126) and Deuce McAllister (17-101) and even Michael Pittman (16-106). This fact is not lost on the Panthers.

The passing defense had been tremendous this season until the Monday night shoot-out but there is little reason to expect the Panthers to create a passing game overnight. The Panthers will follow their formula which is limited to Davis up the gut.

Indianapolis Notes

Quarterbacks: Peyton Manning proved that he was a "decent" quarterback last week when he mounted the greatest four minute comeback in the history of the NFL, playing as a visitor against the toughest defense in the NFL. He showed great poise and control and solid emotional stature by leading the comeback and never once running around screaming like a little girl "OH MY! I CANNOT FREAKING BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING" though I personally will admit to doing that. Just tremendous. Oh yes, and he has ten touchdowns in the past three games.

Running backs: Edgerrin James missed last week with his bad back after teasing the fantasy world with possibly playing. While the full set of his backups played in Tampa Bay, Ricky Williams (13-56, 2 TDs) served as the primary back. I am assuming that James is available this week.

Wide Receivers: If any player is "un-coverable", it is Marvin Harrison who had 11 catches for 176 yards and both scores in spite of everyone knowing who was going to get the throw. Reggie Wayne (4-59) and even Troy Walters (4-42) made big time catches along the way.

Tight Ends: While Marcus Pollard had more yards, Dallas Clark is getting more catches. Put them together and you have a stud tight end. Keep them separate and you have two solid tight ends.

Match against the defense:The Panther defense is concerned that it has allowed T.J. Duckett 100 yards and Deuce McAllister 124 yards after only allowing one 100 yard game all last season. Their concern should be more than they allowed Brad Johnson to throw for 339 yards and Mark Brunell to carve them up for 272 yards. The defense also failed to register a sack for the first time in nine games.

The Colts can fabricate at least a decent running game even without James and if he returns he will have a huge challenge to be the third 100 yard rusher against Carolina. That is unlikely. What is more important is how the Panthers can defend against Manning and company when they already allowed Keyshawn Johnson (9-102), Jermaine Lewis (90) and hobbled Joe Horn (4-56, 1 TD) to do well against them. Those players are not Harrison, Wayne and PollardClark (one name now).

Game Prediction: Stephen Davis will run well against a defense that comes off a short week. Carolina will not be throwing very well or very often. The difference in this game is if Manning and Harrison can rest up and get back to work without the distractions and letdown after their big comeback. Since they are more emotionally stable than I am, I like the Colts in a tough, much lower scoring game between two unbeaten teams.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) by position for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
CAR Scores
31
5
29
24
5
16
IND Allows
8
9
17
19
5
2
CAR AP -23 4 -12 -5
0
-14
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
IND Scores
5
11
5
6
1
17
CAR Allows
12
15
15
15
3
4
IND AP 7 4 10 9
2
-13
Offensive ranks - lower = gains more points, Defensive Ranks lower = allows less points
AP = Indicates if position faces a matchup easier (positive) or tougher (negative) than their average.
CAR IND 2003 Game Averages IND CAR
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
132
210 Pass yards 263
238
1.0
1.2 Pass TDs 2.2
1.0
1.0
1.2 Interceptions 0.8
0.8
-1
5 Rush yards 0
4
0.0
0 Rush TDs 0
0.0
----
-----  RB's ----- 
----
169
107 Rush yards 88
101
0.5
0.2 Rush TDs 0.8
0.3
21
30 Receive yards 37
54
0.0
0 Receive TD's 0.4
0.0
----
-----  WR's ----- 
----
84
130 Receive yards 169
129
1.0
1.2 Receive TD's 1.6
1.0
----
-----  TE's ----- 
----
28
50 Receive yards 57
42
0.0
0 Receive TD's 0.2
0.0
0
-----  PK's ----- 
----
2.5
1.2 Field Goals 2.6
1.3
1.8
1.8 Extra Points 3.4
1.0
----
-----  DEF/ST ----- 
----
0.3
0.2 Fumbles 0.4
0.5
0.8
0.8 Interceptions 0.8
1.0
0.3
0 Touchdowns 0.4
0.0
2.8
0.8 Sacks 1.6
1.3
0.3
0 Safeties 0
0.0
Panthers (4-0)
Score Opp.
24-23 JAX
12-9 @TB
Week 3 BYE
23-3 ATL
19-13 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
Colts (5-0)
Score Opp.
9-6 @CLE
33-7 TEN
23-13 JAX
55-21 @NO
38-35 @TB
Week 6 CAR
Week 7 BYE
Week 8 HOU
Week 9 @MIA
Week 10 @JAX
Week 11 NYJ
Week 12 @BUF
Week 13 NE
Week 14 @TEN
Week 15 ATL
Week 16 DEN
Week 17 @HOU

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points