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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: Minnesota 17, Atlanta 27

The Vikings finally got that monkey off their back with a big offensive showing last week but they lost more defenders in the process. The Falcons come off a solid win over the Bills and now face the exact opposite of Buffalo - a team that has a passing game, no rushing game and a weak defense. Both teams are used to playing inside a dome but only one team is used to winning there.

Update: Dez White has practiced this week and is considered healthy enough to play. He missed last week with a hamstring strain. White will likely resume his role as the #2 wideout and Brian Finneran will return to being the #3.

Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
1 14-10 PHI 10 Nov 13 GBP
2 18-21 @SEA 11 Nov 20 TBB
3 24-16 @BUF 12 Nov 24 @DET
4 Oct 2 MIN 13 Dec 4 @CAR
5 Oct 9 NE 14 Dec 12 NOR
6 Oct 16 @NOR 15 Dec 18 @CHI
7 Oct 24 NYJ 16 Dec 24 @TBB
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 CAR
9 Nov 6 @MIA M THU SAT
ATL vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 90,1 0 140,1
RB Warrick Dunn 100 0 0
RB T.J. Duckett 20,1 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 50,1 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 20 0
WR Michael Jenkins 0 40 0
WR Dez White 0 20 0
PK Todd Peterson 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Falcons made amends for losing to the Seahawks by playing a solid game in Buffalo that sported not only good rushing but the hint that a passing game is actually starting to breakout for Atlanta. And not just Crumpler this time.

Quarterback: Michael Vick is still a long ways from being considered a good passer, but he's taking steps in the right direction while still using his legs to terrify opposing defenses. Vick threw for 167 yards and two scores last week while rushing for 64 yards on nine scrambles. He's not been a major fantasy star yet this year but he's slowly integrating the pass more while staying true to who he is - not good news for the rest of the league.

Running Backs: Few rushing attacks are as easy to decode as the Falcons. Warrick Dunn provides all the yardage - typically 60 to 100 per game. T.J. Duckett provides all the touchdowns - always one per game so far this year. Neither back is used in the passing scheme and only Dunn has actually caught a pass this year. Actually make that two passes for a total of five yards.

Wide Receivers: Michael Jenkins had his first NFL touchdown last week along with 48 yards on his four receptions. Maybe not "Chad Johnson" big, but those are becoming consistent numbers which never existed last year in Atlanta. Jenkins has the most upside of the group and yet Brian Finneran just won't go away. He had four catches for 57 yards last week subbing for the injured Dez White and had the only other wideout touchdown for the team.

The Falcons keep wanting to involve the rookie Roddy White but so far he has only had three passes and not caught one yet.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler hasn't scored yet this season, but he remains consistently between 30 and 50 yards every game with at least three catches in each. Dwayne Blakely had the touchdown last week mainly since he is never used and was wide open on the play.

Match Against the Defense: The Vikings were already without safety Darren Sharper and his replacement Willie Offord just blew out his knee last week. Sharper may miss this game as well which would leave the Vikings a little weak in the secondary. That doesn't mean that Vick will necessarily throw more than usual, but just as much it means less experienced players chasing Vick all over the field.

The Vikings rushing defense has not been very good and the combo of Dunn and Duckett should have a least an average game with the upside for some big numbers just to keep Culpepper off the field.

Look for Vick to have his best rushing game of the year here and still have time for at least one touchdown throw since all teams score on the Vikings that way. Consider Crumpler as a lock for a good week - in three games the Vikes have already allowed four passing scores to tight ends as well as good yardage.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2)
1 13-24 TBB 10 Nov 13 @NYG
2 8-37 @CIN 11 Nov 21 @GBP
3 33-16 NOR 12 Nov 27 CLE
4 Oct 2 @ATL 13 Dec 4 @DET
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 STL
6 Oct 16 @CHI 15 Dec 18 PIT
7 Oct 23 GBP 16 Dec 25 @BAL
8 Oct 30 @CAR 17 Jan 1 CHI
9 Nov 6 DET . . MON
MIN at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Daunte Culpepper 0 0 260,2
RB Mewelde Moore 80 10 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 50 0
WR Koren Robinson 0 20 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 20 0
WR Troy Williamson 0 60,1 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 80,1 0
PK Paul Edinger 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: After two weeks of torture, the Vikings passing game perked up last Sunday even without Nate Burleson on the field. Culpepper had a big game and Mewelde Moore turned in 101 yards for easily the best showing of the offense this season. The noise from that explosion may be quieted for a while though, games at Atlanta and Chicago sandwich a bye week and not until week seven against the Packers will the Vikes have a good matchup.

Quarterback: Daunte Culpepper of old showed up last Sunday, throwing for 300 yards and three scores with no interceptions - his first error free game of the year. Culpepper still has eight interceptions against those three touchdowns but at least his progress is going in the right direction now.

Running Backs: The Vikings have swapped in Mewelde Moore now as the primary back and his 101 yards on only 23 carries ensures that he gets the start for at least this week, if not the rest of the year. Michael Bennett continues to be rumored as trade bait to Arizona and he only had two carries for four yards against the Saints. With the Falcons giving up rushing yards lately, there is no doubt that Moore will have a heavy role again this week.

Wide Receivers: When it all works finally, it looks as good as ever (for as long as it lasts anyway). Travis Taylor turned in two touchdowns on only three catches for 40 yards last week while the rookie Troy Williamson had the other score during his three receptions for 83 yards. Even Marcus Robinson had 80 yards on only two catches last week.

Koren Robinson played last week but did not have a catch. He returned kicks very well and has likely locked up at least that role this season. Nate Burleson missed last week with a sprained PCL in his knee and I am assuming he needs one more week of rest. Updates if warranted.

Tight Ends: Jermaine Wiggins comes off his best game of the year. He had six catches for 60 yards against the Saints, almost double what he had done this season.

Match Against the Defense: Atlanta has been gouged for 140+ yards by both McGahee and Alexander lately which is uncharacteristic of the defense. Expect that Moore gets plenty of carries in this game unless the situation forces Culpepper to throw more which too is possible. Moore is a decent fantasy start but likely won't have big numbers.

Daunte Culpepper, at least the version we saw last week, could have some nice success here against a very banged up secondary. Only CB DeAngelo Hall is healthy and his matchup on the split end should easily take Marcus Robinson out of the gameplan. Knowing that the Vikings will go to multiple receiver sets, he could get matched on Williamson as well depending on the play. Expect another good showing by Travis Taylor as long as Nate Burleson doesn't return this week. The success in the passing game will go where the passes end up - away from DeAngelo Hall.