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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 16
December 17, 2003
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at TB 1 BAL at CLE NYG at DAL ARZ at SEA DEN at IND
KC at MIN 5 CIN at STL NO at JAX SD at PIT Mon 9 PM
NE at NYJ 8:30 DET at CAR TEN at HOU SF at PHI GB at OAK
Times EST MIA at BUF WAS at CHI *updated
   
Atlanta vs Tampa Bay Sat, Dec 20; 1:30 PM on FOX at Raymond James Stadium
  Atlanta at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 50,1 0 140
RB T.J. Duckett 60 10 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 20 0
WR Peerless Price 0 40 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 50 0
  Tampa Bay vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 210,2
RB Michael Pittman 10 40 0
RB Thomas Jones 110,1 10 0
TE Ken Dilger 0 20 0
WR Charles Lee 0 60,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 80,1 0

Game Prediction: ATL 10, TB 24

This is a replay of week three when the Bucs beat the Falcons 31-10. Vick is back now but proved last week that it does not really make a huge difference for a team already on the ropes long ago. Tampa Bay is playing for pride and a possible wildcard. Atlanta is merely fulfilling their obligation to show up.

Atlanta Notes

The Falcons fall to 3-11 on the season with their pasting in Indianapolis.

Quarterbacks:: Michael Vick apparently is not quite back to stellar form this season since he only threw for 47 yards last week against the Colts and completed only six of nineteen passes. He only gained 30 yards on four runs. The entire team was a bit shell-shocked from seeing their headcoach get fired earlier in the week.

It was not his worst game - last year he only had 37 yards against the Buccaneers. In his away meeting with Tampa last season he only had 125 yards passing though he did score on one run.

Running Backs: T.J. Duckett gained 74 yards on 18 carries and scored once last week. After he scored he did a celebratory dance which was considered out of place since the Falcons still trailed 31-7. When Atlanta played Tampa Bay in week three, Dunn and Duckett combined for only 13 yards on 12 carries and Woodrow Dantzler came in late and scored to prevent the shutout.

Receivers: Peerless Price only managed one catch last week for 17 yards even though he had eight passes thrown to him. Brian Finneran was the best receiver and he only had 38 yards on three catches. Vick has shown the speed in his running but not yet the accuracy in his passing. Price only had 45 yards on six catches back in week three against the Buccaneers.

Match against the Defense: Do not expect lofty passing numbers from Vick this week either. The Buccaneers at home had never allowed more than 160 yards to a quarterback not named Manning and only Brooks and Favre were able to throw a touchdown pass.

The Buccaneers have been soft against the run this year but tightened up over the last month. Only two runners have topped 100 yards there this season (McAllister and Green) and the last two did not go over 56 yards on the ground. The Falcons lost both LG Roberto Garza and blocking FB George Layne to season ending injuries last week which is no help.

Tampa Bay Notes

The Buccaneers rise to 7-7 on the season and still have an outside shot at a wildcard.

Quarterbacks:: Brad Johnson had 237 yards passing against the Texans last week but no scores since he mainly handed the ball to Thomas Jones the entire game. Johnson has not been throwing nearly as well lately as he did earlier in the season. He only has four scores in the past five games. Johnson threw for 192 yards and two scores in his last meeting with Atlanta.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones turned in a monster game last week when he carried for 134 yards on 34 carries and scored once. In a sign of the times, Michael Pittman only had one carry for three yards and now is only used in passing situations where he caught five passes for 33 yards against the Texans. Pittman ran for 82 yards and gained 82 yards receiving with one touchdown in week three against the Falcons while Thomas Jones had only one carry in that game for a one yard loss. Mike Alstott scored two short touchdowns.

Receivers: Keenan McCardell had 59 yards on five catches last week while Charles Lee turned in 95 yards on only three catches. McCardell only had 41 yards on four catches in his previous game against the Falcons.

Ken Dilger missed last week with a hamstring strain but should play here.

Match against the Defense: Comparing up previous numbers is less revealing in this matchup since the Buccaneers are playing better and are at home while the Falcons suddenly have no head coach and are looking to get out of this season.

Expect that Thomas Jones has another good effort here against a team that allowed Edgerrin James to gain 126 yards last week and five 100 yard rushers in the last six road games.

Manning showed that the Falcons secondary was still a work in progress last week when he threw for five touchdowns against them but outside of Lord Manning, the three previous quarterbacks were unable to score through the air against the visiting Falcons. Then again, that was against the NYG, NO and HOU.

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
25
20
32
24
27
2
TB Allows
1
5
2
20
2
11
ATL AP
-24
-15
-30
-4
-25
9
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
TB Scores
27
16
19
17
23
9
ATL Allows
21
25
25
28
18
22
TB AP
-6
9
6
11
-5
13
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
TB
2003 Game Averages
TB
ATL
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
152
156
Pass yards
205
202
0.4
0.8
Pass TDs
0.8
1.8
1.2
0.8
Interceptions
1.0
1.0
37
6
Rush yards
0
16
0.2
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
83
106
Rush yards
115
136
1.0
0.2
Rush TDs
0.6
1.2
45
20
Receive yards
42
25
0.0
0.2
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
76
111
Receive yards
149
146
0.2
0.2
Receive TD's
0.4
1.2
---
---
TE's
---
---
31
25
Receive yards
14
31
0.0
0.4
Receive TD's
0.4
0.6
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.0
1.2
Field Goals
1.4
1.2
2.0
1.0
Extra Points
1.4
3.2
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.2
0.6
Fumbles
0.6
0.8
1.0
1.0
Interceptions
1.2
1.2
0.6
0.2
Touchdowns
0.2
0.4
3.0
1.6
Sacks
3.0
2.0
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.2
0.0
Falcons (3-11)
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
7-38 @IND
Week 16 @TB
Week 17 JAX
Buccaneers (7-7)
Score Opp.
17-0 @PHI
9-12 CAR
31-10 @ATL
Week 4 BYE
35-38 IND
35-13 @WAS
7-24 @SF
16-0 DAL
14-17 NO
24-27 @CAR
13-20 GB
19-13 NYG
10-17 @JAX
14-7 @NO
16-3 HOU
Week 16 ATL
Week 17 @TEN

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points from the past five weeks only