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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
   
Minnesota vs Arizona Sun, Dec 28; 4 PM on FOX at Sun Devil Stadium
  Minnesota at ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Daunte Culpepper 10 0 320,3
RB Michael Bennett 60 10 0
RB Onterrio Smith 60,1 20 0
TE J. Kleinsasser 0 40 0
WR Randy Moss 0 130,2 0
WR Kelly Campbell 0 60,1 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 50 0
  Arizona vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh McCown 0 0 190
RB Emmitt Smith 20,1 0 0
RB Marcel Shipp 70 20 0
TE Freddie Jones 0 40 0
WR Bryan Gilmore 0 30 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 30 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 80 0

Game Prediction: MIN 34, ARZ 13

Vikes must win this game in order to make the playoffs or have Green Bay lose and since they play concurrently, this is a must win. The best scoring fantasy quarterback versus the worst defense against fantasy quarterbacks. It does not get a lot better than this.

Minnesota Notes

The Vikings rise to 9-6 to keep pace with the Packers in the NFC North. If they can beat these Cardinals, they take the division. If they lose and the Packers beat the Broncos, it is back to cleaning out gutters at home in January.

Last week the Vikings exploded on the visiting Chiefs, looking every bit as dominating as they did when the season started. Daunte Culpepper had 260 yards and three touchdowns last week and spent most of the second half just handing off to Onterrio Smith. The Vikings on the road have not won many games, but thanks to that Culpepper has turned in his best efforts and has scored in all but one this season.

Michael Bennett ran a few times last week but his ankle bothered him and Onterrio Smith took over to gain 146 yards and three touchdowns. He had 148 yards the previous week against Seattle. Bennett is likely to play this week but HC Mike Tice has already said that Smith has earned a spot in the rotation and will be sharing carries with Bennett who will still be considered the starter. How that split works will likely depend on game situations and individual performances.

Randy Moss had two scores and 111 yards last week while making it look ridiculously easy. His cornrow braids have given away to a free spirit look (think Tasmanian Devil) in a way that can only be carried off by an elite NFL receiver that makes millions of dollars. In approximately 50,000 households on Sunday, fathers looked over at their sons and said "don't even think about it".

Moss sprained his ankle last week but continued to play. He is expected to be fine for Sunday. He only needs 24 yards receiving against the Cardinals to become the first NFL player to average at least 100 yards receiving and one touchdown over a 16-game season. Bet he knows that.

Match against the Defense: Let's see - for the first time this season, I show that the team with the #1 scoring quarterback will be playing against the #32 defense at stopping them. Schwiinnnggg...

The Cardinals are at home where they play better but the Vikings should have more than enough to win this game. Look for Culpepper to top the 300 yard mark and score at least three times with Moss the main attraction. If this was played in Minny, it could happen by halftime.

The Vikings could also run the ball and likely will, but the Cardinals are #25 at stopping the run which is a comparative strength for the defense.

Arizona Notes

The Cardinals have now lost their seventh straight game and are 3-12 on the season.

Josh McCown threw for 274 yards and one score against the Seahawks last week with one lost fumble. Afterwards, HC Dave McGinnis has repeatedly mentioned how pleased he was with McCown's progress and since there has only been one interceptions against three scores in the three games he has started, chances are that the Cardinals will be looking elsewhere with their coveted first or second overall pick in the draft next year.

Marcel Shipp only managed 32 yards on 13 carries last week and appears ready to end the season without any actual touchdowns. Emmitt Smith has two scores this year but has only carries the ball 18 times for 43 yards since returning from injury four weeks ago. Emmitt is signed for another year, but it would shock no one if the contract page containing duration language mysteriously disappeared.

The Cardinals end their season happy about one thing at least. They drafted rookie phenom Anquan Boldin. Maybe he was not even the first receiver that Arizona took in the draft but they have him and he has been everything that David Boston was supposed to be. Less the mouthy part too.

Match against the Defense: The Vikings have been soft against the run all year and the Cardinals will look to take advantage of that and fail. Minnesota has everything riding on this game and should be be able to make McCown need to throw, constantly, in order to stay in the game.

McCown could pick up some nice trash time yards and maybe even scores in this game but will find his interception ratio likely much higher if he does throw much.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
MIN Scores
1
6
6
13
17
7
ARZ Allows
32
25
31
12
30
29
MIN AP
31
19
25
-1
13
22
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
ARZ Scores
19
32
19
22
28
10
MIN Allows
2
21
9
10
2
32
ARZ AP
-17
-11
-10
-12
-26
22
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.
MIN
ARZ
2003 Game Averages
ARZ
MIN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
280
283
Pass yards
189
197
1.3
2.2
Pass TDs
0.8
0.3
1.2
1.2
Interceptions
1.5
1.5
32
12
Rush yards
26
8
0.2
0.5
Rush TDs
0.2
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
128
124
Rush yards
63
91
0.8
1.2
Rush TDs
0.2
1.8
69
35
Receive yards
19
24
0.0
0.3
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
176
207
Receive yards
141
136
1.3
1.8
Receive TD's
0.5
0.3
---
---
TE's
---
---
35
41
Receive yards
29
38
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.2
1.3
Field Goals
1.2
0.7
3.0
4.2
Extra Points
1.3
2.8
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
0.8
Fumbles
1.0
1.0
1.7
1.2
Interceptions
1.5
1.2
0.5
0.3
Touchdowns
0.2
0.5
0.8
3.2
Sacks
1.8
3.3
0.0
0.2
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Vikings (9-6)
Score Opp.
30-25 @GB
24-13 CHI
23-13 @DET
35-7 SF
39-26 @ATL
Week 6 BYE
28-20 DEN
17-29 NYG
27-30 GB
28-42 @SD
18-28 @OAK
24-14 DET
17-48 @STL
34-7 SEA
10-13 @CHI
45-20 KC
Week 17 @ARZ
Cardinals (3-12)
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
17-20 CAR
10-28 @SEA
Week 17 MIN

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points