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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 19, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
STL at ATL DEN at JAX* Sun 4 PM IND at TEN Mon 9 PM
CLE at DAL* CAR at KC* SEA at TB* NYJ at SD MIN at PHI*
HOU at DET SF at NO* BUF at OAK* Times ET *updated
  St. Louis Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 260,2
RB Marshall Faulk 90 20 0
RB Steven Jackson 30 0 0
TE B. Manemaleuna 0 10 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 60 0
WR Torry Holt 0 110,1 0
WR Dane Looker 0 50,1 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 3 FG 2 XP -
  Atlanta Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 40 0 220,1
RB Warrick Dunn 80,1 30 0
RB T.J. Duckett 20 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 50 0
WR Dez White 0 30 0
WR Peerless Price 0 80,1 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 20 0
PK Jay Feeley 2 FG 2 XP -

STL (1-0) vs ATL (1-0)

Game Prediction: STL 23, ATL 20

These one-time divisional rivals met last year in St. Louis where the Rams destroyed the Vick-less Falcons 36-0. That was not exactly unusual since the Falcons have not beaten the Rams since 1998. This year - they're installing a new offense that still was not cohesive against the 49ers last week. The Rams squeaked by the Cardinals though, making this game a true coin-flipper.

Pre-Game Notes - STL

The one game that looked like a blowout ended up a hard-fought, low scoring win for the Rams complete with two fumbles and one interception. Sloppy play but good yardage... until the goal line got near.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger comes off a good 272 yard, one touchdown effort against Arizona and he had the one interception that seems obligatory. He homed in on the wideouts almost exclusively in the game and only completed two passes to Marshall Faulk otherwise.

Running Backs: Marshall Faulk looked very much like his old self, rushing for 128 yards on only 22 carries and showing no signs that his knee is bothering him. Steven Jackson also had seven carries and totaled 50 yards for a dominating ground game that inexplicably stops working when it gets into the redzone. Jackson's fumble killed one scoring drive.

Wide Receivers: Isaac Bruce led receivers last week with nine catches for 112 yards and one score while Tory Holt had seven catches for 96 yards. Dane Looker and Shaun McDonald continue to get work and McDonald could cut into Looker's time eventually.

Tight Ends: There were no passes completed to a tight end last week and the position largely blocks now that both Faulk and Jackson are running well. The offensive line problems are also assisted by the extra blocker.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons gave up 421 net yards to the 49ers last week and the firepower of the Rams is just a little bit better. Atlanta is using a more aggressive scheme this season but if Tim Rattay and Cedrick Wilson can beat it, chances are favorable that Bulger and Holt can follow suit. Holt had 161 yards and two scores last time these teams met and he plays the same Split End position that got Wilson 94 yards and a score last week.

The Falcon rush defense is better this year but that doesn't mean STL cannot beat it through volume if they get the lead. This should be a good passing game for Bulger with both Holt and Bruce doing well but mainly Holt who will reclaim his rightful #1 ranking for the Rams receivers.

Pre-Game Notes - ATL

The Falcons led 14-3 at the half last week but then had to hang on for a close win over the 49ers. The new scheme is taking time to come together and the defensive players were unable to make proper adjustments later in the game.

Quarterback: Michael Vick was well-contained last week when he had six runs for only ten yards and threw for 163 yards with one score and one interception. He also fumbled twice but recovered both. The new West Coast offense is not spreading the ball much either - all but three catches for 19 yards went to either Alge Crumpler or Peerless Price.

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn is a better fit for the new offense since he's fast and catches passes well. But he never was thrown a pass and ran 19 times for 63 yards and two touchdowns. This begs two questions - 1.) can Dunn possibly hold up to a 320 carry season when he has never had more than 248 a year and has not played a full season since 2000? 2.) Did T.J. Duckett get caught sleeping in the team meeting?

Duckett only had two token carries for six yards and was not even used near the goal line. Not a promising sign. On the plus side, Dunn is not likely to last all year at this rate. Adding to worries was last week when LG Michael Moore sprained his shoulder and LT Kevin Shaffer injured his knee. Both will be evaluated this week.

Wide Receivers: There's Peerless Price and then... nothing really. Price had four catches for 62 yards last week and Brian Finneran had the only other catch from a wideout. Dez White had two passes but caught neither. This offense is still developing but it sure looks like the old one when it comes to passing.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler starts the season as the favorite receiver for Vick - his seven passes with six catches for 82 yards led all receivers (which we now know means just Price). Good sign for Crumpler, bad sign for a diverse offensive attack.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons and Rams both have a win now and both looked shaky in their victory. But the Falcons were buckling under later in their game against the 49ers while the Rams just could not finish drives to post the expected score. Warrick Dunn will find some success on the fast track of the home carpet since Emmitt Smith did as well but his production will be a function of the game situation. If St. Louis can get a decent lead, the run game starts to go away.

The Rams defense is built for speed and while they are no road warriors lately, they are playing inside against a team still coming together and focusing solely on two receivers and one running back. Price plays the same flanker role that Fitzgerald had success with last week

STL ATL 2003 Averages ATL STL
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
272 286 Pass yards 163 181
1 2 Pass TDs 1 0
1 1 Interceptions 1 0
0 0 Rush yards 10 5
0 0 Rush TDs 0 0
--- --- RB's --- ---
178 95 Rush yards 69 98
0 0 Rush TDs 2 1
17 47 Receive yards 3 23
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- WR's --- ---
255 153 Receive yards 78 119
1 1 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- TE's --- ---
0 86 Receive yards 82 39
0 1 Receive TD's 1 0
--- --- PK's --- ---
3 2 Field Goals 0 1
0 1 Extra Points 3 1
--- --- DEF/ST --- ---
0 0 Fumbles 1 2
0 1 Interceptions 1 1
0 0 Touchdowns 0 0
2 4 Sacks 3 0
0 0 Safeties 0 0
Rams (1-0)
Score Opp.
17-10 ARI
Week 2 @ATL
Week 3 NO
Week 4 @SF
Week 5 @SEA
Week 6 TB
Week 7 @MIA
Week 8 bye
Week 9 NE
Week 10 SEA
Week 11 @BUF
Week 12 @GB
Week 13 SF
Week 14 @CAR
Week 15 @ARI
Week 16 PHI
Week 17 NYJ
Falcons (1-0)
Score Opp.
21-19 @SF
Week 2 STL
Week 3 ARI
Week 4 @CAR
Week 5 DET
Week 6 SD
Week 7 @KC
Week 8 @DEN
Week 9 bye
Week 10 TB
Week 11 @NYG
Week 12 NO
Week 13 @TB
Week 14 OAK
Week 15 CAR
Week 16 @NO
Week 17 @SEA

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points