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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WILDCARD
December 31, 2003
Playoff Ticket
Saturday
Sunday
4:30 PM, ABC at Ravens Stadium
1:00 PM, FOX at Lambeau Field
8:00 PM, ABC at Ericsson Stadium
4:30 PM, CBS at RCA Dome
   
Dallas at Carolina  
  Dallas Rush Catch Pass
QB Quincy Carter 30 0 190,1
RB Richie Anderson 20 20 0
RB Troy Hambrick 40 0 0
TE Campbell/Witten 0 30,1 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 40 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 40 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 50 0
  Carolina Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 200,1
RB Stephen Davis 70,1 10 0
TE Wiggins/Mangum 0 30 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 50,1 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 30 0
WR Steve Smith 0 70 0

Game Prediction: DAL 16, CAR 23

These two teams met in week 12 when the Cowboys took the 24-20 victory in Dallas.

This time they will meet in Carolina where the Panthers have gone 6-2 this season and are on a three game winning streak. The Cowboys are coming off a loss in New Orleans and are only 4-4 on the road.

Quincy Carter has thrown at least one score in each of the last six games and his 290 yards last week was his second best of the season. On the road this year he has thrown more than one score only once in Detroit and three games had no passing score. Carter threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers earlier this year. Richie Anderson caught one and the other went to Terry Glenn who ended with 104 yards on only four catches.

Troy Hambrick has turned in his best games on the road where he had 127 (NYJ) and 189 (WAS) yards, but against the Panthers in week five he carried 23 times for 53 yards.

The inescapable fact is that the Cowboys offense has not progressed this season and higher scores back in September could have been related to a new scheme and play calling by the Cowboys that no one had any game film on yet. The Cowboys have enjoyed playing against many weak teams that were missing injured players at the time. The Panthers come in relatively healthy and are at home.

Look for Carter to throw for less than 200 yards as have all visiting quarterbacks other than Brad Johnson in week 10 and Brunnell back in week one. The Panthers have never given up more than two scores but almost always give up one.

Hambrick will face a defense that handled him already this season and Richie Anderson will figure into the equation as well, watering down with Hambrick will provide. The wideouts are almost always the players that catch scores against the Panthers and Antonio Bryant has been the most common receiver the past month. Galloway or Glenn could score but neither are likely to offer much yardage.

The Panthers are refreshed and ready to start the playoffs with a healthy Stephen Davis who has been bothered by an ankle injury and has not had over 13 carries in a game since week 14. Against the Cowboys in week 12, Davis only gained 59 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown.

Jake Delhomme has been prone to turnovers - he has not had a game without one since week 8, but he comes off two consecutive games with two touchdowns while Stephen Davis was not 100%. Delhomme does not normally throw for over about 230 yards in a game and only had 175 yards and one score against Dallas the last time.

This game will likely not have big rushing by either team, though Davis at home is a better bet to do something. The Cowboys should manage to keep the score lower but either quarterback could throw an interception. It should be a low score, defensive matchup with more action via the pass than the run. Errors and turnovers will be the killer in this game.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
DAL Scores
7
17
30
8
22
24
CAR Allows
19
6
4
11
8
23
DAL AP
12
-11
-26
3
-14
-1
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
CAR Scores
17
18
13
29
10
19
DAL Allows
12
15
5
7
16
21
CAR AP
-5
-3
-8
-22
6
2
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.
DAL
CAR
2003 Game Averages
CAR
DAL
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
199
165
Pass yards
226
187
1.2
0.8
Pass TDs
1.2
1.2
1.5
1.0
Interceptions
1.2
0.8
46
36
Rush yards
4
5
0.2
0.3
Rush TDs
0.2
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
98
77
Rush yards
94
89
0.5
0.7
Rush TDs
0.5
0.5
53
25
Receive yards
37
47
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
0.5
0.5
---
---
WR's
---
---
116
111
Receive yards
177
121
0.3
0.7
Receive TD's
0.5
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
30
29
Receive yards
12
18
0.5
0.2
Receive TD's
0.2
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.3
1.2
Field Goals
1.8
1.5
1.8
2.2
Extra Points
1.8
2.0
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
1.2
Fumbles
0.7
0.5
0.8
1.2
Interceptions
1.0
1.5
0.0
0.5
Touchdowns
0.2
0.2
2.0
0.8
Sacks
2.5
2.7
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.2
Cowboys (10-6)
Score Opp.
13-27 ATL
35-32 @NYG
Week 3 BYE
17-6 @NYJ
24-7 ARZ
23-21 PHI
38-7 @DET
0-16 @TB
21-14 WAS
10-6 BUF
0-12 @NE
24-20 CAR
21-40 MIA
10-36 @PHI
27-0 @WAS
19-3 NYG
7-13 @NO
Panthers (11-5)
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
20-17 @ARZ
20-14 DET
37-24 @NYG

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points