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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 10 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at IND HOU at TB SF at CIN CLE at DEN NYG at NO
BUF at TEN JAX at NE SEA at STL CAR at ARZ Mon 9 PM
DAL at WAS MIN at CHI Sun 4 PM GB at SD PHI at MIA
DET at KC PIT at NYJ BAL at OAK *updated Times EST
   
Atlanta vs Indianapolis Sun, Dec 14; 1 PM on FOX at RCA Dome
  Atlanta Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 70,1 0 210,1
RB T.J. Duckett 60 10 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 40 0
WR Peerless Price 0 70,1 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 60 0
  Indianapolis Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 230,2
RB Edgerrin James 100,2 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 40,1 0
WR Troy Walters 0 20 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 90 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 50,1 0

Game Prediction: ATL 20, IND 31

Colts return home after their monster win over the Titans and will have to battle against a letdown. But there is still too much at stake to allow a home game to get out of hand and the Falcons will be hurt by the rushing of James.

Atlanta is playing with a new sense of purpose and excitement, but on the road even Vick is not enough here.

Atlanta Notes

The Falcons rise to 3-10 on the season.

Quarterbacks:: Michael Vick is back, attracting endless superlatives from the announcers and in many cases they are justified. Vick did not throw particularly well last week, he only completed 16 of 33 for 179 yards, no scores and one interception. But his ankle is healed, verified by the 141 yards on 14 runs that he made. He also scored once on a short run as well.

Running Backs: T.J. Duckett had 17 carries for 59 yards last week and scored once. Duckett was less effective against a good Panthers run defense and lost one score to Vick which could be a sign of the future. The fullback Justin Griffith (6-24) spells Duckett who now provides change of pace for his quarterback.

Receivers: The much anticipated full game between Peerless Price and Vick was less than thrilling, with Price netting four catches for 57 yards and being missed on six passes. Vick was throwing the ball so hard that Price had two passes go pinging off his hands. It may not have been a big game for Price, but it was encouraging that Vick threw 10 times to him and was clearly most interested in connecting with Price.

On the final offensive drive of the game, it is notable that Price was being double covered and Vick threw three straight passes to Alge Crumpler though the final one was intercepted.

Match against the Defense: Michael Vick could cause problems for the Colts since the RCA Dome is a fast track and similar to home for the ever-running quarterback. The Colts have not faced a running quarterback this year outside of Steve McNair who only had 20 yards on three carries but both he, Bledsoe and Leftwich scored on runs against Indy. And those came in the last five games.

The Colts are holding opponents to under 235 yards passing but six of the past seven opponents have had one passing score or more. Combining that with Vick's runs should make for a good game from Vick.

Duckett will not be likely to gain 100 yards, the few who have against IND have been different sort of runners (Taylor and Davis) but the Colts have allowed rushing scores to running backs this season. He stands a decent chance of one scoring run if Vick does not steal it.

Indianapolis Notes

The Colts rise to 10-3 and now lead the AFC South.

Quarterbacks:: Peyton Manning had a more pedestrian game last week, throwing 22 of 34 for 228 yards and never scoring against the Titans. Manning had a season high 20 yards on four runs last week but only six yards as his previous best this year. Manning is more the anti-Vick and this game showcases two very contrasting styles of quarterback.

Running Backs: Edgerrin James had 95 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns. That gives him seven scores in the past four games and the Colts have committed to running him with no less than 25 carries in a game over the past four weeks.

Receivers: Even though Manning had a lesser outing last week, Marvin Harrison still shined with ten catches for 124 yards. No other receiver had more than two receptions nor more than 30 yards. Reggie Wayne will be home again this season where he has either scored a touchdown or had 100 yards for the last five homestands.

Match against the Defense: The first consideration is if the Colts will suffer a letdown after a huge road win over the Titans. After being the league's whipping boy for much of the season, the Falcons defense has vastly improved and not just from teams wanting to mail in their games.

In the past four weeks, opponents have not thrown for more than 230 yards and the Giants, Saints and Texans were held scoreless in the air. But McNair and Volek combined for three passing scores which should spell no less than an average game for Manning and as always, the potential for a good one.

The advantage here lies with James. All teams rush for over 100 yards against the Falcons except for last week. On the road, Atlanta has allowed the last three opponents to have a 100 yard rusher and gave up five touchdowns in that time span.

This should be a standard Colts game - Lots of Edgerrin with Manning and Harrison picking when they want to strike. The Falcons have been one of the worst teams against tight ends as well and should score with either Harrison or Pollard or both.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
ATL Scores
31
11
32
22
24
9
IND Allows
20
22
20
16
12
2
ATL AP
-11
11
-12
-6
-12
-7
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
IND Scores
3
10
3
3
2
22
ATL Allows
24
30
17
31
29
31
IND AP
21
20
14
28
27
9
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.
ATL
IND
2003 Game Averages
IND
ATL
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
167
203
Pass yards
295
230
0.5
1.5
Pass TDs
2.0
1.4
1.5
0.8
Interceptions
0.6
1.0
16
6
Rush yards
2
10
0.1
0.3
Rush TDs
0.0
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
102
113
Rush yards
93
136
1.0
0.9
Rush TDs
1.1
1.5
38
35
Receive yards
37
36
0.1
0.1
Receive TD's
0.2
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
92
124
Receive yards
197
148
0.4
1.3
Receive TD's
1.5
0.8
---
---
TE's
---
---
37
44
Receive yards
61
46
0.0
0.1
Receive TD's
0.5
0.5
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.2
1.1
Field Goals
2.4
1.5
1.8
3.0
Extra Points
3.3
3.1
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
0.6
Fumbles
1.1
0.7
1.0
0.5
Interceptions
0.5
1.5
0.3
0.1
Touchdowns
0.1
0.3
2.2
1.2
Sacks
1.9
2.1
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.3
Falcons (3-10)
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
20-14 CAR
Week 15 @IND
Week 16 @TB
Week 17 JAX
Colts (10-3)
Score Opp.
9-6 @CLE
33-7 TEN
23-13 JAX
55-21 @NO
38-35 @TB
20-23 CAR
Week 7 BYE
30-21 HOU
23-17 @MIA
23-28 @JAX
38-31 NYJ
17-14 @BUF
34-38 NE
29-27 @TEN
Week 15 ATL
Week 16 DEN
Week 17 @HOU

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points