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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 18, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at TBB NE at CAR Sun 4 PM MIA at NYJ Mon 9 PM
JAC at IND* PIT at HOU* STL at ARI *Update Times ET

Prediction: St. Louis 20, Arizona 23

The Cardinals come off a thrashing in New York by the Giants while the Rams try to forget the frustrating loss in San Francisco that was always close and yet never quite in reach. The Rams road woes continue while the Cardinals at home have always been a much bigger, badder bird. The previous meeting there had the Cardinals win 31-7 though Bulger was out that week.

St. Louis Rams (0-1)
1 25-28 @SFO 10 Nov 13 @SEA
2 Sep 18 @ARI 11 Nov 20 ARI
3 Sep 25 TEN 12 Nov 27 @HOU
4 Oct 2 @NYG 13 Dec 4 WAS
5 Oct 9 SEA 14 Dec 11 @MIN
6 Oct 17 @IND 15 Dec 18 PHI
7 Oct 23 NOR 16 Dec 24 SFO
8 Oct 30 JAC 17 Jan 1 @DAL
9 Open Bye . MON SAT
STL Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 10 0 260,2
RB Steven Jackson 60 10 0
RB Marshall Faulk 10 20 0
TE Roland Williams 0 10 0
WR Torry Holt 0 100,1 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 50 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 40 0
WR Shaun McDonald 0 30,1 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Well that was a maddening loss last week. The Rams went against the suddenly scrappy 49ers and almost pulled out a road win on grass. With three games away from St. Louis in the first four weeks, a slow start would be no surprise.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger was the best fantasy quarterback of the weekend when he threw for 362 yards and two scores against only one interception but as is often the case, still not quite good enough to notch a win. Bulger did not play in Arizona last year as he was injured but at home he had 272 yards and one score earlier in the season. He's rock solid as a fantasy quarterback and yet less so as a winning quarterback. Sort of an anti-Aikman.

Running Backs: Most troublesome from last week was that Steven Jackson could only gain 60 yards on 19 carries. That's far short of expectations though it remains to be seen how much of that was actually just kudos to the 49er front line. Marshall Faulk only had three carries in the game and one catch for 14 yards so his role is barely even "relief". The strangest aspect to Faulk was using him at the goal line for a run - not Jackson.

The Rams rushed for 128 yards in the first meeting against the Cards in 2004 but in week 15 in Arizona, absolutely abandoned the rushing game in that loss. Marshall Faulk had only ten runs for 22 yards in a game that Bulger missed.

Wide Receivers: Torry Holt remains a safe fantasy stud every week. He had 10 catches for 125 yards against the 49ers which dwarfed all other receivers and he typically has good games against the Cardinals as long as Bulger is playing. Isaac Bruce only had three catches for 61 yards last week while the biggest surprise was the equal, and productive, use of both Shaun McDonald (7-73) and Kevin Curtis (7-63).

Mixing up the wideouts that well will help the offense, but leaves Holt as the only Rams receiver that is a lock for a big game, though Bruce in the endzone is always a reasonable expectation.

Tight Ends: While Brandon Manumaleuna had a touchdown last week, it was his only catch and Roland Williams (1-12) remains the starter. These tight ends are never reliable or productive enough for any fantasy consideration.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals were shredded last week but that was on the road in a game that they played even until the wheels fell off in the second half. Do not expect that sort of performance this week back in the desert where Arizona always plays better. The rushing game should not be ignored this time in Arizona but the Cardinals play it tough at home. Look for a moderate game by Jackson who will start stepping up his numbers after this week.

The Giants stayed away from throwing at all against Antrelle Rolle last week and instead worked on the Macklin side. That should help out Torry Holt who will be getting plenty of attention elsewhere though. Eventually this game should end up with a Cardinals lead and the Rams forced into throwing. The only matchup that does not appear to be decent is Isaac Bruce against Rolle.

Arizona Cardinals (0-1)
1 19-42 @NYG 10 Nov 13 @DET
2 Sep 18 STL 11 Nov 20 @STL
3 Sep 25 @SEA 12 Nov 27 JAC
4 Oct 2 SFO 13 Dec 4 @SFO
5 Oct 9 CAR 14 Dec 11 WAS
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @HOU
7 Oct 23 TEN 16 Dec 24 PHI
8 Oct 30 @DAL 17 Jan 1 @IND
9 Nov 6 SEA . . SAT
ARZ Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner 0 0 260,2
RB J.J. Arrington 30 20 0
RB Marcel Shipp 30 20 0
TE Adam Bergen 0 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 80,1 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 100,1 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 30 0
PK Neil Rackers 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals actually led 13-0 at halftime last week before getting outscored 35-6 in the second half when the Giants produced points almost in every conceivable fashion. Warner was an upgrade from McCown last year though the running game struggled badly in the brief use it had. Shipp and Arrington combined for 15 yards on 15 carries. That was not in the game plan.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner threw for 264 yards and one score last week with only one interception though some of that came in trash time and even then, the Cardinals threw Josh McCown out there to finish the game to protect Warner from getting hurt.

Warner had a very nice chemistry going with Larry Fitzgerald last week and against the Rams should be able to better show what the Cardinals offense is capable of this season.

Running Backs: Ouch. J.J. Arrington's debut only produced five yards on eight carries though he did come up with four catches and 22 yards later in the game. Marcel Shipp gave it a shot as well and only came away with 10 yards on seven carries. This week should be a better view of what to expect but currently the consensus with the Cardinals coaching staff is that Arrington is a better runner than Shipp since he is faster and more explosive. However, that only counts if there are actual lanes to run through which there have not been.

Shipp offers a bigger package that is more adept at between the tackles rushing. Until one clearly outshines the other - and that may not actually happen - expect to see a mixture of the two trying to find some successful formula.

Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald wasted little time this year in gaining his career first 100 yard game. He had 13 catches for 155 yards and one score against the Giants while Anquan Boldin settled for 62 yards on four receptions. That ratio won't continue, but with the chemistry that Fitzgerald and Warner has already shown and knowing it is easily the only success of the offense, it would be hard to say that Boldin is considered the #1 still. This week against a softer secondary should be a better clue to whether week one was an aberration or the start of a beautiful relationship.

The reality was that they all were targeted fairly equally with Fitzgerald (14), Boldin (11) and Bryant Johnson (11) getting nearly even looks. Fitzgerald was just the only one that did much with what he got.

Tight Ends: They do not even pretend they matter in Arizona anymore.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers had a tough time rushing against the Rams last week and the Cardinals rushing attack either needs to unfold to a clearer picture or just stay in the box all season. This week probably won't offer many more clues as to what to expect all year though in the passing game the tailbacks could fare a bit better. It's a reach to expect either Arrington or Shipp to turn in even an average fantasy game this week.

This should be a big game for Fitzgerald and Boldin against equally soft corners for the Rams. Both sides gave up a score last week and Fitzgerald/Boldin is a step up from Battle/Lloyd. Maybe two or three steps actually. Look for some nice passing numbers from Warner here that go almost entirely to the two main wideouts.