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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 7
October 15, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM TEN at CAR Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM Bye Week:
*BAL at CIN *NE at MIA *WAS at BUF KC at OAK Arizona
DAL at DET *NO at ATL *CHI at SEA   Indianapolis
*DEN at MIN *PHI at NYG NYJ at HOU Times EST Jacksonville
GB at STL *SD at CLE *TB at SF *updated Pittsburgh
   
New Orleans vs Atlanta Sun, Oct 19; 1 PM on FOX at Georgia Dome
  New Orleans Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 10 0 220,2
RB Deuce McAllister 100,1 20 0
TE Ernie Conwell 0 30 0
WR Joe Horn 0 80,1 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 30 0
WR Jerome Pathon 0 50,1 0
  Atlanta Rush Catch Pass
QB Doug Johnson 0 0 230,1
QB Kurt Kittner 0 0 170,1
RB Warrick Dunn 40 30 0
RB T.J. Duckett 50,1 10 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 20 0
WR Quentin McCord 0 10 0
WR Peerless Price 0 40 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 50,1 0


Game Prediction: NO 24, ATL 17

Update: Kurt Kittner has replaced Doug Johnson as the starting QB and since he takes his first start, the numbers could be high or low since he is facing the Saints defense. Kittner is known more as an accurate passer than a strong arm and since the game plan may include shorter routes with a new QB, I am lowering numbers.

New Orleans Notes

Quarterbacks: More baby steps than giant leaps, Aaron Brooks is getting better this season. Last week he threw two touchdowns and had 153 yards passing and the previous week he had one score and 189 yards in the air. The important thing is that Brooks has not thrown an interception in two games and the offense is starting to run better. It may not be purring along right yet, but at least the backfiring has stopped.

Running backs: Other than the Tennessee disaster, Deuce McAllister has been the lone consistently productive player for the Saints and last week ran for 124 yards on 23 carries and had 59 yards on four catches. That makes four of five games with at least 90 yards of production.

Wide Receivers: It took a late touchdown to make Joe Horn's game look decent last week, ending with four catches for 56 yards and Donte' Stallworth has replaced the injured Michael Lewis as the primary punt and kick returner. Stallworth's dropped passes in recent weeks have not helped his cause and he only had one catch for 21 yards last week. While Joe Horn had 12 passes thrown to him, Stallworth only had two. Even Jerome Pathon (4-55) had seven throws.

Tight Ends: Where receiving production has slid is to the tight end - Ernie Conwell. Last week he had two catches but one was a touchdown. The previous week he had four catches for 44 yards. Before that, six for 88 yards.

Match against the defense: The Falcons offer a "feel good" defense because it has really felt good when opponents play against them. Atlanta ranks in the bottom ten for defending against almost all positions and are in the worst three for both running backs and wide receivers. Offenses like to see that on their schedule.

The only quarterback that did not score two touchdown passes on the Falcons were Jake Delhomme who had one in an offense that does not throw, and Quincy Carter who also had one but also threw for 267 yards. You can throw on the Falcons and use almost any player.

The Falcons also give up huge yardage and scores to running backs if that suits the fancy of the offense. Atlanta is like a buffet for opponents looking to fatten up their stats.

Atlanta Notes

Quarterbacks: After giving false hope with 352 yards against the Vikings, Doug Johnson could only manage 134 yards and no scores in St. Louis last week. At the rate this team is going, Michael Vick should be faking a limp for the next two months. The problem in the passing game comes when teams do not overlook the Falcons and actually play to win all 60 minutes.

Running backs: The nice runs by T.J. Duckett against Minnesota gave way to a 16 carry for 50 yard effort against the Rams. Warrick Dunn fared slightly better, netting 23 yards on only 5 carries. Duckett had 100 yards against the Panthers as a surprise, but now that he has been in the game plans for defenses, he is less effective.

Wide Receivers: That whole 12 catches for 168 yards by Peerless Price two weeks ago is now sandwiched between 30 and 8 yard games. Price had nine throws last week but only one catch. Brian Finneran returned from his hand injury and led receivers with 55 yards on three catches.

Tight Ends: While Alge Crumpler started the year hot, now he has settled down to only around three catches and 30 yards a game.

Match against the defense: The Saints finally find a decent match for their defense.

While New Orleans can definitely be ran on, the Falcons have not been running well.

While New Orleans can definitely give up passing yards. The Falcons have not been passing well.

The main question here is how well the team is coached and motivated going into the game since the relative strengths and weaknesses are similar.

Game Prediction: Almost anything could happen in this game. The Saints come off a win, but have not won a road game this season. The Falcons come off a short, humiliating week and have yet to win at home. The key to this game is that the Saints are slowly improving, coming off a win and at least pointing in the right direction.

The Falcons on Monday night took on the look of a team that had finally seen its spirit broken. Only six weeks into the season. They may bounce back and Vick may inject some positive feelings but in only six days their public flogging on Monday is more deflating than motivating.

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
NO Scores
20
26
19
13
23
15
ATL Allows
28
31
30
9
22
28
NO AP 8 5 11 -4 -1 13
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
ATL Scores
27
18
29
4
29
26
NO Allows
25
22
19
17
24
22
ATL AP -2 4 -10 13 -5 -4
Offensive ranks - lower = gains more points, Defensive Ranks lower = allows less points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
NO ATL 2003 Game Averages ATL NO
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
203
263 Pass yards 224
201
1.3
1.7 Pass TDs 1.2
1.8
0.7
0.8 Interceptions 1.8
0.3
11
2 Rush yards 15
12
0.0
0.2 Rush TDs 0.2
0.2
----
-----  RB's ----- 
----
94
144 Rush yards 88
114
0.2
1.3 Rush TDs 0.7
0.5
30
42 Receive yards 37
20
0.0
0.2 Receive TD's 0.2
0.5
----
-----  WR's ----- 
----
135
195 Receive yards 107
143
1.0
1.3 Receive TD's 0.5
1.0
----
-----  TE's ----- 
----
39
25 Receive yards 58
39
0.3
0.2 Receive TD's 0.3
0.2
----
-----  PK's ----- 
----
1.5
1.5 Field Goals 1.2
1.8
1.8
3.3 Extra Points 1.8
2.7
----
-----  DEF/ST ----- 
----
0.7
0.7 Fumbles 1.0
0.8
0.3
2.0 Interceptions 0.7
0.3
0.5
0.2 Touchdowns 0
0.8
2.0
2.8 Sacks 2.0
1.0
0.2
0.7 Safeties 0
0.0
Falcons (1-5)
Score Opp.
27-13 @DAL
31-33 WAS
10-31 TB
3-23 @CAR
26-39 MIN
0-36 @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
Saints (2-4)
Score Opp.
10-27 @SEA
31-10 HOU
12-27 @TEN
21-55 IND
13-19 @CAR
20-13 CHI
Week 7 @ATL
Week 8 CAR
Week 9 @TB
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 ATL
Week 12 @PHI
Week 13 @WAS
Week 14 TB
Week 15 NYG
Week 16 @JAX
Week 17 DAL

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points