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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 14
December 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CHI at GB IND at TEN TB at NO KC at DEN CAR at ATL
CIN at BAL OAK at PIT WAS at NYG MIA at NE Mon 9 PM
DAL at PHI SD at DET Sun 4 PM NYJ at BUF STL at CLE
HOU at JAX SEA at MIN ARZ at SF *updated Times EST
   
Carolina vs Atlanta Sun, Dec 7; 8:30 PM on ESPN at Georgia Dome
  Carolina Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 200,1
RB Stephen Davis 130,2 10 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 20 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 40 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 20 0
WR Steve Smith 0 70,1 0
  Atlanta Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 30 0 190,1
RB Justin Griffith 20 20 0
RB T.J. Duckett 60,1 10 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 30 0
WR Peerless Price 0 70,1 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 30 0

Game Prediction: CAR 23, ATL 20

Update: Brian Finneran looks more likely to play this week and was upgraded to questionable considering his knee injury. Even if he does play I would expect lower numbers from him.

The Panthers already beat the Falcons 23-3 back in week four but now Vick is back. Can that make an immediate difference? It didn't against the Texans last week for one quarter and the Panthers bring a far better defense this week. Stephen Davis already had one of his best games of the season against the Falcons.

Vick is back and Vick is good. But there is still plenty of work before firing up the bandwagon quite yet. The Panthers are on a two game losing streak and need this win.

Carolina Notes

The Panthers fall to 8-4 in the NFC South where they still hold a two game lead over the Saints. Carolina played the Falcons in week four of this season.

Quarterbacks:: Jake Delhomme threw for 168 yards and one score in their last meeting and comes off a two touchdown, 216 yard effort against the Eagles last week.

Running Backs: Stephen Davis had one of his big games when he last played the Falcons, gaining 153 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries and adding 38 more yards on four catches. Even De'Shaun Foster had 46 yards on only ten carries. Davis comes off a 115 yard effort against the Eagles.

Receivers: Steve Smith had a touchdown catch last week after going two weeks with none. That gives him five on the season. When he faced the Falcons in week four, there was little need for the pass and he was still the best receiver with only five catches for 47 yards while Ricky Proehl had one short touchdown pass.

Muhsin Muhammad had a score last week but only gained 27 yards on two catches with no touchdowns against the Falcons in week four.

Mike Seidman was placed on IR and Kris Mangum sprained his knee and may not be able to play this week. Expect Jermaine Wiggins to carry the tight end load.

Match against the Defense: No need to make this rocket science. Stephen Davis wants to run and the Falcons are one of the worst teams in stopping him. Look for a big game out of Davis and for Delhomme to hover near 200 yards with one score unless Vick suddenly makes the Falcons into a scoring machine and forces the Panthers to post more points in a hurry.

Atlanta Notes

The Falcons fall to only 2-10 on the season with their recent loss to <insert team name> the Texans.

Quarterbacks:: Michael Vick finally entered the game last week and looked relatively sharp for having missed so much time. He threw 8 of 11 for 60 yards and even ran three times for 16 yards. While he was sore afterwards, it was nothing unexpected and nothing to be concerned about - he will play this week.

Running Backs: T.J. Duckett only gained 31 yards on 12 carries against the Texans but he scored once. Since Warrick Dunn is gone, the Falcons turned to fullback Justin Griffith for six runs that totaled 19 yards and he also had five catches for 22 yards. Swapping Dunn for a fullback is quite a change.

Duckett actually had one of his best games when he played against the Panthers in week four. He gained 100 yards on only 14 carries and scored one touchdown.

Receivers: The big question is to whom would Vick throw the ball?

Justin Griffith - 3-12
Alge Crumpler - 1-5
Brian Finneran - 1-4 + one incomplete
Peerless Price - 3-39 + one incompletion.

Granted he dumped off to Griffith three times and threw only short passes, but he hit Price for gains of 1, 28 and 10 yards in basically one quarter which is encouraging.

Finneran jammed his knee last week but should be able to practice and play this week.

Match against the Defense: This is a hard comparison since Vick is back for his first full game without Dunn there but with Price on the team. The Falcons may be invigorated by Vick's return, but then again Vick was unable to get into the endzone against the Texans and now faces the Panthers.

Carolina has held most quarterbacks to under 200 yards this season but they are really only about average against the pass. Duckett had 100 yards in their last meeting but two runs of 41 and 21 yards provided the bulk of that production. Most of his runs were between one and five yards. The Panthers will be more wary too now that Vick is back and Duckett should not be able to turn in those sort of yards again. Only Deuce McAllister has been able to also crest the 100 yard mark against Carolina.

Look for Vick to work on his passing and to continue to try to establish something with Price but the Panther corners are good enough to make the job harder than last week. CB Terry Cousin had his knee banged up last week but the MRI was negative and he will likely play. He goes against Finneran anyway.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
CAR Scores
25
4
12
30
5
16
ATL Allows
25
31
19
31
30
31
CAR AP
0
27
7
1
25
15
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
ATL Scores
32
7
32
25
23
12
CAR Allows
17
3
22
15
18
9
ATL AP
-15
-4
-10
-10
-5
-3
Offensive ranks = #1 gains most points, Defensive ranks = #1 allows least points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
CAR
ATL
2003 Game Averages
ATL
CAR
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
216
238
Pass yards
166
203
1
1.4
Pass TDs
0.6
1.4
0.7
0.9
Interceptions
1.5
0.8
3
12
Rush yards
3
10
0.1
0.1
Rush TDs
0
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
133
140
Rush yards
104
95
0.7
1.5
Rush TDs
1
0.4
31
40
Receive yards
40
30
0.2
0.1
Receive TD's
0.1
0
---
---
WR's
---
---
162
149
Receive yards
90
136
0.8
0.9
Receive TD's
0.4
1.2
---
---
TE's
---
---
23
49
Receive yards
36
37
0
0.4
Receive TD's
0
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.2
1.7
Field Goals
1.3
1.7
1.9
3.2
Extra Points
1.8
2.1
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.5
0.7
Fumbles
0.8
1.1
0.9
1.5
Interceptions
0.9
0.7
0.2
0.3
Touchdowns
0.2
0.2
2.3
2
Sacks
2.3
1.3
0
0.3
Safeties
0
0
Falcons (2-10)
Score Opp.
27-13 @DAL
31-33 WAS
10-31 TB
3-23 @CAR
26-39 MIN
0-36 @STL
17-45 NO
Week 8 BYE
16-23 PHI
27-7 @NYG
20-23 @NO
31-38 TEN
13-17 @HOU
Week 14 CAR
Week 15 @IND
Week 16 @TB
Week 17 JAX
Panthers (8-4)
Score Opp.
24-23 JAX
12-9 @TB
Week 3 BYE
23-3 ATL
19-13 NO
23-20 @IND
17-37 TEN
23-20 @NO
10-14 @HOU
27-24 TB
20-17 WAS
20-24 @DAL
16-25 PHI
Week 14 @ATL
Week 15 @ARZ
Week 16 DET
Week 17 @NYG

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points