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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 17
December 24, 2003
Season Ticket
Sat 1:30 PM Sat 8:30 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM
BUF at NE PHI at WAS CHI at KC JAX at ATL CAR at NYG
Sat 5 PM Sun 8:30 PM CLE at CIN NYJ at MIA MIN at ARZ
SEA at SF PIT at BAL DAL at NO STL at DET DEN at GB
  IND at HOU TB at TEN OAK at SD
   
Jacksonville vs Atlanta Sun, Dec 28; 1 PM on CBS at Georgia Dome
  Jacksonville at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 0 0 230,1
RB Fred Taylor 120,1 10 0
TE Kyle Brady 0 20 0
WR Jimmy Smith 0 90,1 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 50 0
WR Troy Edwards 0 30 0
  Atlanta vs JAX Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 60,1 0 170,1
RB T.J. Duckett 70 10 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 30 0
WR Peerless Price 0 60 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 50,1 0

Game Prediction: JAX 19, ATL 17

Coin flip game here against a team that has not won on the road this season versus a team that is trying to pull itself back up and is providing wildly varying efforts in the past few weeks. The Falcons beat the Panthers 20-17 in Atlanta a few weeks ago and this pits a similar opponent with a lesser offense.

Jacksonville Notes

The Jaguars rise to 5-10 with their win over the Saints and hit the road to Atlanta this week. The Jaguars are a respectable 5-3 at home but are 0-7 on the road this season.

Byron Leftwich ends up on a nice four game streak of consecutive games with a score and his best game in the last nine weeks was of course on the road in New England where he should have done the worse. It was snowing too. It has been that sort of year. Leftwich remains good for about one score a game - he only has two passing touchdowns two times this year versus seven games with only one.

Fred Taylor comes off his best game of the season when he rushed for 194 yards and one score against the Saints and has six 100 yard efforts this year. Taylor has 1451 yards this season and seven scores. Not bad for an odd-numbered year since he had never finished one in the NFL without getting injured.

Leftwich continues to find safety in throwing to Jimmy Smith who has two 130 yard games this year but only four scores. The addition of Kevin Johnson should bode well for next season since Johnson did more in his short time with the Jaguars than any of the other #2 receivers that tried this season.

Match against the Defense: Leftwich will face a defense that had allowed Manning and Brad Johnson to throw nine touchdowns and 636 yards in the last two games. More than likely though is that Fred Taylor turns in his final 100 yard game of the season, following in the footsteps of most runners against Atlanta this season.

The Falcons beat the Bucs last week but changed the scope of that game by intercepting Johnson four times in a surreal first half. Leftwich will be more likely to hand off to Taylor than to throw and he has not thrown an interception in the last six games.

Atlanta Notes

The Falcons rise to a lofty 4-11 on the season with their defeat of the Buccaneers.

Michael Vick has done it all in the past three games this season. He ran wild and did not throw much against the Panthers, did nothing at all against the Colts and last week he did not run but threw for two scores against Tampa Bay. Which Vick plays this week?

T. J. Duckett finally ended his seven week streak of consecutive games with a touchdown. He had 93 yards on 27 carries last week and has only one 100 yard effort all season back in week four when he popped one long run. Last week was his highest for carries - in all other games he never had more than 18 runs.

The much anticipated meeting between Peerless Price and Vick has not produced a touchdown this season but there is reason to be optimistic next year. Several passes have either been just long or pinged off Price's hands. Price has received at least seven throws a game virtually all season with a high of 16 in week five.

Brian Finneran had the touchdown last week but that was his only catch as did Alge Crumpler.

Match against the Defense: The question is always if the opponent will contain Vick's running and this week the Jaguars. The best any running quarterback has done this season was Dave Ragone (5-51) and McNair never had over 21 yards in two meetings. The reality is that the Jaguars have not yet faced a team that has a great running quarterback so those waters are relatively untested.

Vick has a good chance at a passing score since every team has at least one touchdown against the visiting Jaguars but the most common scorer has been on the Finneran side.

Don't look for too much from Duckett against a defense that has not surrendered a 100 yard runner since week one and has only allowed three rushing scores the entire season.

This will have to be the Michael Vick show in order to get a win. In their favor, the Jaguars have not played well in the rare times they are inside domes.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
JAX Scores
27
7
18
20
21
26
ATL Allows
24
24
27
28
15
16
JAX AP
-3
17
11
8
-6
-10
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
ATL Scores
24
21
32
18
19
2
JAX Allows
10
3
8
26
6
1
ATL AP
-14
-18
-24
8
-13
-1
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.
JAX
ATL
2003 Game Averages
ATL
JAX
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
193
226
Pass yards
146
192
0.8
2.2
Pass TDs
0.7
1.0
1.2
1.5
Interceptions
1.0
0.7
6
13
Rush yards
38
15
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.2
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
154
129
Rush yards
87
59
0.7
1.0
Rush TDs
0.8
0.3
26
37
Receive yards
40
40
0.2
0.2
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
144
161
Receive yards
79
115
0.5
1.3
Receive TD's
0.3
0.7
---
---
TE's
---
---
24
28
Receive yards
27
37
0.2
0.7
Receive TD's
0.2
0.3
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.5
1.0
Field Goals
1.3
1.3
1.5
3.3
Extra Points
2.2
1.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.0
0.8
Fumbles
1.0
0.3
0.7
1.0
Interceptions
1.5
1.2
0.0
0.3
Touchdowns
0.7
0.0
2.0
1.7
Sacks
2.5
0.8
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Jaguars (5-10)
Score Opp.
23-24 @CAR
17-38 BUF
13-23 @IND
20-24 @HOU
27-21 SD
10-24 MIA
Week 7 BYE
17-30 TEN
17-24 @BAL
28-23 IND
3-10 @TEN
10-13 @NYJ
17-10 TB
27-0 HOU
13-27 @NE
20-19 NO
Week 17 @ATL
Falcons (4-11)
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
30-28 @TB
Week 17 JAX

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points