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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
   
Carolina vs Arizona Sun, Dec 14; 4 PM on FOX at Sun Devil Stadium
  Carolina Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 200,2
RB Stephen Davis 100,1 0 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 20 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 60,1 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 20 0
WR Steve Smith 0 80,1 0
  Arizona Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh McCown 0 0 160
RB Emmitt Smith 20 0 0
RB Marcel Shipp 60,1 10 0
TE Freddie Jones 0 30 0
WR Bryan Gilmore 0 20 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 20 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 60 0

Game Prediction: CAR 23, ARZ 10

Carolina Notes

The Panthers fall to 8-5 and yet still have a two game lead over the Saints.

Quarterbacks:: Jake Delhomme was far less effective last week against the Falcons than in their first meeting. He only had 153 yards and one score while throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. It was not his lowest output of the season, but it was his worst without a big game from Stephen Davis taking the focus.

Running Backs: Stephen Davis only gained 81 yards on 24 carries last week which was approximately the same carries for half the yardage of his previous game against the Falcons. Davis scored once and has either a score or 100 yards in every game he has played this season.

Receivers: Steve Smith led all receivers against Atlanta and had seven catches for 66 yards, making it two of the last three road games without a touchdown. Muhsin Muhammad had 53 yards on three catches last week and while he has tailed off significantly from his 189 yard game in week 11, the important factor is that he has had at least 50 yards in each of the three games since. Delhomme has increased the number of throws to Muhammad over the past month, looking his way six to ten times a game.

Match against the Defense: Stephen Davis could have a nice game here since Jamal Lewis and Marshall Faulk both had big games in Arizona. The sand trap that had been there was broken by Faulk in week 12 (the last home game) and the Cardinals are hardly a picture of team gearing up for the playoffs. But by that token, Arizona has been constantly surprising at home and since the Panthers are in line for the playoffs, there could be a reason to lessen the load for Davis if the score leans heavily towards Carolina. The numbers all suggest that Davis should have a nice game but reality could end up diminishing what he could do.

If Davis does not excel, and maybe even if he does, Delhomme faces a secondary that is merely terrible on a good day. While Delhomme will not likely need to throw for a ton of yards, the passing scores should be there Arizona has allowed 13 touchdowns in the past five games.

Arizona Notes

The Cardinals fall to 3-10 with their defeathering in San Francisco.

Quarterbacks:: Jeff Blake was so awful against the 49ers, that the Cardinals turned to Josh McCown to give him a little real game experience to see if they can rely on him in the future or if he will be cast off like so many other Cardinals quarterbacks over the years. Blake only went 8-20 for 59 yards before McCown came in and managed 11-20 for 120 yards and two scores against an opponent that left to go Christmas shopping.

McCown has already been named as the starter this week.

Running Backs: Marcel Shipp only managed 30 yards on 13 carries, about 135 yards less than his previous game against the 49ers. Emmitt Smith had four carries for 15 yards during the blowout. This week will be interesting since Shipp's home performance - much like the Cardinals in general - has been dramatically better there than on the road. In his last home games, Shipp gained 95, 141 and 165 yards compared to his last four road trips of 30, 34, 23 and 61 yards.

Smith is evidently nothing more than a bit player by now but Shipp had two of his last three games at home and needs to audition for next season to prevent the Cards from benching him in deference to a different guy for the third season in a row.

Receivers: Anquan Boldin had nine catches for 123 yards and a score last week but most of that came in trash time. The receiving situation in Arizona has become such a joke that Boldin had 16 passes in the game and all other wideouts totaled only four receptions for 35 yards.

Match against the Defense: The Panthers have allowed every opponent to score at least one touchdown through the air other than Atlanta. Five of the last seven opponents have thrown for less than 200 yards though four of them did score two touchdowns.

McCown's first start should prove to be a tough one with a motivated Panther defense coming to town. As this is his first start, keep your expectations low since the entirety of his production came in trash time last week.

The only player worth a start here is Boldin thanks to getting 16 passes a game and providing about 80% of the passing game. Marcel Shipp faces a defense that could be tired from the Sunday night game and has been much more successful at home, but the Cardinals are taking a turn for the worse lately and he may not get the carries to produce decent numbers. While McGinnis cannot be faulted for trying out McCown, he can not be expected to continue to run when the Cardinals fall behind.

Only McAllister has rushed for over 74 yards against the Panthers as the visitor though Carolina has allowed four rushing touchdowns this season while on the road. Around 70 yards and one score should be the upper limit of what Shipp could do but the Cards could easily ruin that by falling behind or even stepping up Emmitt's workload.

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
9
13
29
7
16
ARZ Allows
32
19
32
4
31
28
CAR AP
7
10
19
-25
24
12
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
ARZ Scores
20
32
21
15
25
25
CAR Allows
23
4
19
14
15
15
ARZ AP
3
-28
-2
-1
-10
-10
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
ARZ
2003 Game Averages
ARZ
CAR
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
210
243
Pass yards
185
200
1.0
1.7
Pass TDs
1.1
1.3
0.8
0.8
Interceptions
1.4
0.8
3
12
Rush yards
17
22
0.1
0.5
Rush TDs
0.2
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
129
104
Rush yards
75
93
0.7
0.6
Rush TDs
0.0
0.5
29
38
Receive yards
22
29
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.1
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
160
174
Receive yards
127
133
0.7
1.5
Receive TD's
0.6
1.1
---
---
TE's
---
---
22
31
Receive yards
36
38
0.1
0.1
Receive TD's
0.2
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.0
1.7
Field Goals
1.3
1.5
1.9
3.1
Extra Points
1.5
2.1
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.5
0.7
Fumbles
0.5
1.1
0.9
1.2
Interceptions
1.1
0.8
0.2
0.4
Touchdowns
0.2
0.3
2.4
1.9
Sacks
1.3
1.3
0.0
0.3
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Panthers (8-5)
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
14-20 @ATL
Week 15 @ARZ
Week 16 DET
Week 17 @NYG
Cardinals (3-10)
Score Opp.
24-42 @DET
0-38 SEA
20-13 GB
13-37 @STL
7-24 @DAL
18-26 BAL
Week 7 BYE
16-13 SF
17-14 CIN
15-28 @PIT
6-44 @CLE
27-30 STL
3-28 @CHI
14-50 @SF
Week 15 CAR
Week 16 @SEA
Week 17 MIN

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points