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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 2, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DEN at JAC* PHI at KCC* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
HOU at CIN SEA at WAS DAL at OAK PIT, CHI *Updated

Prediction: Green Bay 17, Carolina 27

Both these teams need a win badly and have lost twice in close games so far this year. But back at home, the Panthers should be grinning at the prospect of going against the Packer defense and Brett Favre is already on a record pace for interceptions. Carolina is not really as bad as that 1-2 record suggests. The Packers at 0-3? That's probably them playing par. This Monday night game must have looked much more enticing last spring when it was scheduled.

The season opener of 2004 had these teams meet in Carolina and the Packers won 24-14.

Green Bay Packers (0-3)
1 3-17 @DET 10 Nov 13 @ATL
2 24-26 CLE 11 Nov 21 MIN
3 16-17 TBB 12 Nov 27 @PHI
4 Oct 3 @CAR 13 Dec 4 @CHI
5 Oct 9 NOR 14 Dec 11 DET
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 19 @BAL
7 Oct 23 @MIN 16 Dec 25 CHI
8 Oct 30 @CIN 17 Jan 1 SEA
9 Nov 6 PIT . . MON
GBP at CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre 0 0 250,2
RB Ahman Green 50 20 0
TE David Martin 0 10 0
WR Donald Driver 0 50,1 0
WR Robert Ferguson 0 70 0
WR Antonio Chatman 0 50,1 0
WR Terrence Murphy 0 20 0
PK Ryan Longwell 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Packers are fighting that "swirling clockwise amidst the toilet paper" feeling after only three games this season and Brett Favre likely said it all when he was quoted "I have to play a perfect game in order for us to win". Since he has seven interceptions already this year, enough said...

Quarterback: While Brett Favre does have six touchdowns this season, he's thrown those seven interceptions and lost a fumble as well. With Javon Walker out of the lineup, Favre is basically pretending that Driver and Ferguson are #1 and #2 when at best they would only be a #2 and a #4 on most any other team. The offensive line has not improved so far and with that certain pass rush, Favre either takes chances or gets killed. Chances equal turnovers more often than not and if the blocking doesn't improve, then Favre's incredible durability could end up challenged well before the end of the season.

Favre only had 143 yards and one score against the Panthers in 2004.

Running Backs: In all three games this season, Ahman Green has ran well for the most part. He has 47 carries for 170 yards which is only a 3.6 yard average but with less than 20 carries in every game, Green cannot get into a groove and the Packers falling behind every week won't see that improve soon. Fortunately, Green has taken a step up this season with pass receptions and already has 13 catches for 106 yards but he still has not scored in 2005.

Ahman Green rushed for 119 yards and two scores and added a reception for a third touchdown in the meeting last year against the Panthers.

Wide Receivers: Donald Driver was held to only two catches for 49 yards last week after racking up 105 yards and a score against the Browns. He's clearly the preferred target of Favre who is now getting doubled and triple coverage that will depress his numbers whenever the Packers face a good defense - say like this week. Robert Ferguson has scored in both of the last games but only managed four catches in each with never more than 68 yards. Antonio Chatman had the other score last Sunday and as the third option is getting more looks since week one when Walker was still there.

Donald Driver turned his ankle last week but still played through the injury. I am assuming he plays without limitation this week.

The wideouts were entirely ineffective in the meeting last year and Donald Driver led all receivers with only 39 yards.

Tight Ends: Bubba Franks missed last week with a bruised knee and in his place, David Martin had only one catch for ten yards. I am assuming Franks misses one more week but will update if warranted.

Franks had two catches for 27 yards against the Panthers last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers at home have only allowed up to 64 yards rushing by an opposing running back and yet they gave Ronnie Brown 132 yards in Miami last week. The Panthers play their third home game this season in their fourth outing, so expect a performance much closer to the one that held Dillon to 36 yards and McAllister to only 64 yards. The Packers are not running with much authority and game situation takes them out of the equation anyway. Look for the standard game from Green for 2005 - about 60 yards rushing with at least 20 yards receiving.

Favre will have to throw well for the Packers to have a chance here but the Panthers will be bringing the pass rush heavy and often. Either Favre will go for a more controlled passing scheme with lower numbers, lower scores, lower turnovers and a loss or he'll crank it up yet again for decent yardage, more scores and even more interceptions. That is more likely. Driver actually has the best matchup here but he's getting too much attention by the safeties to rely on him having a big game.

Carolina Panthers (1-2)
1 20-23 NOR 10 Nov 13 NYJ
2 27-17 NE 11 Nov 20 @CHI
3 24-27 @MIA 12 Nov 27 @BUF
4 Oct 3 GBP 13 Dec 4 ATL
5 Oct 9 @ARI 14 Dec 11 TBB
6 Oct 16 @DET 15 Dec 18 @NOR
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 DAL
8 Oct 30 MIN 17 Jan 1 @ATL
9 Nov 6 @TBB . MON SAT
CAR vs GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 260,2
RB DeShaun Foster 20 30 0
RB Stephen Davis 70,1 0 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 20 0
WR Steve Smith 0 110,1 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 20 0
WR Rod Gardner 0 20 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 50,1 0
PK John Kasay 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: So far the Panthers have beaten the defending world champion Patriots and yet lost to both New Orleans and Miami by a field goal. Welcome to the NFL - 2005. Delhomme struggled in the first two games but came back to life last week when he remembered to throw everything to Steve Smith but it still wasn't enough. Back at home, this game is the most "winnable" one that the Panthers will have for the rest of the year. They have to take the victory here.

Quarterback: After throwing only one score in the first two weeks, Jake Delhomme had 285 yards and three scores last week. So far every touchdown he has thrown has gone to Steve Smith and actually, other than dump offs to running backs, almost every pass completion has gone to Smith this season outside of one long gainer to Ricky Proehl against the Patriots. No need to worry about a one dimensional passing game quite yet, the Packers are coming to town.

Delhomme threw for 284 yards and two scores against the Packers in 2004.

Running Backs: Stephen Davis slowed down last week, gaining only 36 yards on 16 carries and finally not scoring in a game because the Panthers never ended up at the one yard line. Davis ran strong in week one against the Saints but in the last two weeks, he's struggled to gain even three yards a carry. Deshaun Foster is used for a couple of series each week but has only managed a high of 41 rushing yards. Foster is also the de facto third down back, catching at least a couple of balls per game and ending with three catches for 48 yards just last week.

Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster only combined for 38 rushing yards against the Packers last year during one of the few games either played.

Wide Receivers: Steve Smith led the NFL last week with 11 catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Basically, Smith has been the entire passing game for the Panthers and his 342 receiving yards after three weeks goes against only 93 yards total by all other Carolina wideouts over the same time span. Take away the 63 yards that Ricky Proehl had in week two and the other wideouts only combined for a mere 30 yards over three games. That is not balanced but so far - pretty effective even if in losing efforts.

Keary Colbert caught the first two passes thrown to him this season (11 yards) and now has had 15 consecutive throws without a single catch. There has been no official word that Rod Gardner is being considered, but at some point (say the 16th incompletion) the Panthers will have to go in a different direction which all points to Gardner.

Steve Smith had six catches for 60 yards last year when these teams met and it was the game in which he broke his leg and was lost for the season.

Tight Ends: Kris Mangum - two catches, about 20 yards. Write it down and then walk away.

Mangum only had one catch for 15 yards last year against the Packers.

Match Against the Defense: Those of you still relying on Jake Delhomme may take a minute to dance a quick jig on the table.

The Packers have never allowed less than two passing scores in any game this season though they have not surrendered a rushing score yet. Look for moderate games out of both Stephen Davis and Foster in yardage with scores depending on how close to the goal line Carolina ends up.

Delhomme should turn in a nice game here with at least two scores and very likely more. What will decrease his yardage is that the Packers are turning the ball over with regularity and that leaves a shorter field for the Carolina offense. Expect moderate yardage with the chance for big numbers only if there are a few long catches. There are no receivers here worth relying on outside of Steve Smith who should have a solid game if not, of course, outstanding once again.