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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 9, 2004
Season Ticket
Thu 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Sun 1 PM SD at HOU OAK at PIT NYG at PHI Mon 9 PM
JAX at BUF TEN at MIA TB at WAS Saturday no byes
  Green Bay Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre 0 0 260,2
RB Ahman Green 70 20 0
RB Najeh Davenport 10 0 0
TE Bubba Franks 0 20 0
WR Javon Walker 0 80,1 0
WR Donald Driver 0 60 0
WR Robert Ferguson 0 70,1 0
PK Ryan Longwell 3 FG 2 XP -
  Carolina Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 230,2
RB Stephen Davis 110,1 10 0
RB DeShaun Foster 20 20 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 50,1 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 20 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 30 0
WR Steve Smith 0 90,1 0
PK John Kasay 1 FG 3 XP -

GB (0-0) vs CAR (0-0)

Game Prediction: GB 23, CAR 24

What a great way to spend Monday night. The Panthers come off their NFC Championship to face the team that feels it was denied their right to the crown. Both teams are experienced and almost entirely intact from last season.

Pre-Game Notes - GB

The Packers are primed, almost foaming at the mouth with their chances this season. They return every starter from the offense that was among the best in the NFL last year. They canned DC Ed Donatell and promoted up Bob Slowick to install an even more aggressive, blitzing defense. They have depth and experience and now get the opportunity to put it all together again.

Quarterback: Brett Favre is not only back, there's no talk about any possible retirement like last year. Mr. Touchdown finally gets the same set of receivers back on the field for two years in a row.

Running Backs: Ahman Green was one of the top rushers in the league last year and will run behind the same line that got the job done last year. All the talk about Najeh Davenport or Tony Fisher taking carries last year actually was true, but it never happened until Green already had a monster game which was more often than not.

Wide Receivers: Javon Walker ended last season with nine touchdowns and was Favre's most consistent target every game. He's entering his third season in a perfect spot to add more yardage to an already impressive touchdown total. Robert Ferguson also hits his third season and is also in a good spot to step up his play. The only player on the potential downside is Donald Driver who still figures in and plays better on the road.

The table is set for Favre each time he looks down the field.

Tight Ends: The years of Bubba Franks as a touchdown machine are likely over with him declining from nine to seven to only four scores last year. The wideouts are better and more diverse now and the rushing game has blossomed so well that those short throws in the endzone are just not as needed.

Match Against the Defense: The Packers walk into a buzzsaw in Carolina where the best front seven in football wait. With Julius Peppers and MLB Dan Morgan clogging rushing lanes, no opposing runner had over 100 yards in the final 11 weeks in Carolina. Ahman Green should have some success but will not be nearly enough to win the game. The Panthers feature CB Ricky Manning (2nd year) and CB Chris Gamble (rookie) that will get a good test with Favre peppering the secondary as he surely will have to do.

Look for both Ferguson and Walker to be a big part of the offense, particularly in the second half.

Pre-Game Notes - CAR

Carolina comes off the Super Bowl loss ready to show that they were not the "fluke" team that seems to reach the Big Show each season. There are plenty of reasons to think these cats are real.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme had a Cinderella season in 2003, leaving the backup jon in New Orleans to play in the Super Bowl. He made Steve Smith a star (with some help) and had touchdowns or 300 yards passing in each of his final seven games. This year his wideouts will be even better.

Running Backs: For all the annual moaning that Stephen Davis is going to lose a lot of carries to De'shaun Foster, it'll end up being much ado about nothing. Foster will play and play fairly well - if Davis is hurt. Otherwise, look for the #1 back in Carolina to play a true primary role with Foster donating only occasional relief in most games. Davis is getting older but still easily has one more good season in the tank.

Wide Receivers: Steve Smith signed a huge contract in the off-season and then did the nearly unthinkable by taking the money and then running - straight to practice where he is perhaps the hardest, most committed worker. Smith comes off a career season but is intent on making that the norm, not a contract year exception. Muhsin Muhammad plays at least one more year at the #2 but the rookie Keary Colbert is spawning immediate optimism that be can step up into a significant role even as a rookie. Ricky Proehl hangs on for one more season but the most interesting aspect to watch is if Colbert can become a contributor quickly. Until he starts catching scores from Delhomme instead of Weinke, the jury is still out.

Tight Ends: While the tight end was a feature of the Panthers when Wesley Walls was around, the new offense under John Fox just uses them for blocking. Nothing much to see here.

Match Against the Defense: The Packers were susceptible to the run last year, particularly on the road and that should bode well for Stephen Davis. You can be sure the Panthers will want to burn as much clock up as they can and avoid a shootout with Favre. The Packers will be coming heavy on the pass rush, so Steve Smith should have the better game of the wideouts since he runs great patterns and already has the chemistry with Delhomme. The Packers are planning on using a package of blitzes to compensate for only having Gbaja-Biamila as a big time rusher.

The Packers will probably go with either rookie Ahmad Carroll or Michael Hawthorne on the left side which only should benefit Smith even more.






Statistical Comparisons begin after Week 1

Packers (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @CAR
Week 2 CHI
Week 3 @IND
Week 4 NYG
Week 5 TEN
Week 6 @DET
Week 7 DAL
Week 8 @WAS
Week 9 bye
Week 10 MIN
Week 11 @HOU
Week 12 STL
Week 13 @PHI
Week 14 DET
Week 15 JAX
Week 16 @MIN
Week 17 @CHI
Panthers (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 GB
Week 2 @KC
Week 3 bye
Week 4 ATL
Week 5 @DEN
Week 6 @PHI
Week 7 SD
Week 8 @SEA
Week 9 OAK
Week 10 @SF
Week 11 ARI
Week 12 TB
Week 13 @NO
Week 14 STL
Week 15 @ATL
Week 16 @TB
Week 17 NO

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points