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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 15, 2004
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
PIT at NYG 1 * BUF at CIN * SD at CLE* STL at ARZ BAL at IND *
WAS at SF 5 * HOU at CHI SEA at NYJ DEN at KC * Mon 9 PM
CAR at ATL 8:30 JAX at GB * DAL at PHI * NO at TB NE at MIA*
Times ET MIN at DET TEN at OAK * *updated Times ET
  Carolina Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 250,2
RB Nick Goings 70,1 10 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 110,1 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 40,1 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 60 0
PK John Kasay 1 FG 3 XP -
  Atlanta Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 60,1 0 150
RB Warrick Dunn 70,1 20 0
RB Stanley Pritchett 20 20 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 40 0
WR Dez White 0 20 0
WR Peerless Price 0 30 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 20 0
PK Jay Feeley 2 FG 2 XP -

CAR (6-7) vs ATL (10-3)

Game Prediction: CAR 24, ATL 20

This is a rematch of week four when the Falcons won 27-10. The Falcons have won eight of the last nine meetings between the two teams.

Pre-Game Notes - CAR

The Panthers have won their last five games and at 6-7 they actually have a solid shot at winning a wild card. Their winning streak is indicative of the solid coaching job by John Fox and his staff since all the names in the boxscores are different from last year. They're different from only six weeks ago.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme has been much improved since the last meeting against the Falcons when he threw for 308 yards and two interceptions with no touchdowns. He's scored in each of the last seven games and now has a ground game once again to give him room to operate. Delhomme has also cut down on his turnovers as well, throwing only three interceptions in the last six games.

Running Backs: Nick Goings will undoubtedly return to his second-string role next season, but he's making everything he can out of this unique opportunity this season. He has ran for over 100 yards in all four of his starts and scored five touchdowns. He's even had 67 carries in the last two games. Back in week four against the Falcons, De'shaun Foster only gained 51 yards on 19 carries and scored one touchdown but also had a season high 54 yards receiving. Goings has never carried less than 23 times in any game as a starter.

Wide Receivers: Muhsin Muhammad is enjoying a career year even though there were rumors he might not even be kept on the team last summer. He's scored in four of the last five games and had at least 94 yards in six of his last seven outings. In the previous meeting with Atlanta, Muhsin Muhammad had his "breakout" game for the year when he gained 114 yards on seven receptions while Keary Colbert only had 40 yards on four catches.

Tight Ends: No fantasy relevance.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers were thumped by Atlanta in the first meeting but that was in week four when the Panthers were just about at their lowest point for the season. This will be a big test for Goings since the Falcons at home have been very good against runners and have allowed only one big game - McAllister had exactly 100 rushing yards in week 12 there. Look for Goings to turn in his worst game as a starter.

Delhomme has already had big passing yardage against the Falcons and Muhammad has only gotten better since his nice 114 yard effort in week five against Atlanta. Since the running game should be less effective this week, the passing game will be called on more often with better results. Delhomme should turn in a very solid afternoon here with a great shot at multiple scores.

Pre-Game Notes - ATL

The Falcons have clinched the NFC South and realistically their place in the playoffs is likely already cemented. They will not rise above Philly to get a homefield in week three of the playoffs and yet they are safely two games ahead of any other NFC team for the first round bye. Motivation could be a problem though this is the final regular season home game for the Falcons and a win here literally lets them skate through two final road games in NO and SEA with no consequences.

Quarterback: Michael Vick should be the hero of every high school quarterback dreaming of the NFL. This is because Vick embodies the ultimate high school quarterback - he runs like crazy, throws fairly poorly but has a big arm with the rare long gainer to pump up his numbers. He has only topped 147 passing yards once in the last five weeks and has not scored in the last two games.

Vick only gained 35 yards on seven runs in the last meeting against the Panthers and only threw for only 148 yards on ten completions with no scores. It's like textbook Vick.

Running Backs: The bad news here is that T. J. Duckett required arthroscopic knee surgery to clean out his knee and will miss this week and likely the rest of the regular season. But that doesn't really matter since the Falcons lot is already cast. Warrick Dunn now has to be careful not to get injured which will be more difficult since the starting fullback Justin Griffith just went on injured reserve. Stanley Pritchett will fill in for Griffith and while he is not as good a blocker, he is a capable receiver for Vick to use.

Dunn and Duckett started out their split duties in the first meeting with the Falcons when Dunn gained 76 yards and Duckett had 63 and both runners scored one touchdown with no receptions in the game.

Wide Receivers: How sad is it to be a Falcons wideout? How is it remotely possible for Atlanta to advance in the playoffs with virtually no passing game? Peerless Price averages 37 yards per game though he has only exceeded that lofty mark once in the last five games. Watch the Colts this Sunday and you will see more wideout yardage on their first offensive series than the Falcons will produce in an entire game.

Tight Ends: There is very bad news brewing here. Somehow defenses noticed that Vick only throws to Alge Crumpler and now that they have blanketed him, the Falcons have zero passing ability. Crumpler only has one catch in each of the last two games and acts genuinely upset that he is not getting any more production. Get a clue there Alge - when you are the entire passing offense, you'll be getting a defensive entourage only slightly smaller than the President of the United States until Vick proves he can actually throw to a wideout. The last two weeks have been another very bad sign for the playoff hopes of the Falcons.

Crumpler gained 85 yards on five catches in the last meeting with the Panthers.

Match Against the Defense: There is the question of motivation for Atlanta here since they have little to win other than locking down a first round bye before two final road games. They have lost Griffith and Duckett (for now). The Panthers are soft against the run but are much tougher lately and the Falcons only have Dunn and Vick to run now.

Expect moderate games from Dunn and Crumpler who will get plenty of attention. Vick will need to create some plays with his legs and should be better than the last meeting against the Panthers. This will be a game that is less related to what the team has been doing and more influenced by where they are in the season - already clinched with little to play for and without two of the main components of their rushing game.

CAR ATL 2004 Averages ATL CAR
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
233
237
Pass yards
164
231
1.6
1.1
Pass TDs
0.8
0.9
1.1
1.2
Interceptions
0.8
1.7
5
3
Rush yards
63
10
0.1
0.1
Rush TDs
0.2
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
96
97
Rush yards
100
103
0.6
1.2
Rush TDs
1.2
1.2
40
43
Receive yards
32
44
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.2
0.4
---
---
WR's
---
---
162
156
Receive yards
78
157
0.9
0.8
Receive TD's
0.2
0.7
---
---
TE's
---
---
21
37
Receive yards
58
46
0.2
0.2
Receive TD's
0.4
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.2
1.1
Field Goals
0.9
1.4
2.0
2.2
Extra Points
2.5
2.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
0.9
Fumbles
0.8
0.4
1.6
0.8
Interceptions
1.1
1.1
0.1
0.0
Touchdowns
0.4
0.2
1.9
3.0
Sacks
2.8
1.7
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Panthers (6-7)
Score Opp.
14-24 GB
28-17 @KC
Week 3 bye
10-27 ATL
17-20 @DEN
8-30 @PHI
6-17 SD
17-23 @SEA
24-27 OAK
37-27 @SF
35-10 ARI
21-14 TB
32-21 @NO
20-7 STL
Week 15 @ATL
Week 16 @TB
Week 17 NO
Falcons (10-3)
Score Opp.
21-19 @SF
34-17 STL
6-3 ARI
27-10 @CAR
10-17 DET
21-20 SD
10-56 @KC
41-28 @DEN
Week 9 bye
24-14 TB
14-10 @NYG
24-21 NO
0-27 @TB
35-10 OAK
Week 15 CAR
Week 16 @NO
Week 17 @SEA