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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
CHI at CLE SEA at STL* CAR at ARI On Bye:  
NE at ATL TEN at HOU* WAS at DEN MIN, NYG Updated*

Prediction: Carolina 27, Arizona 20

The Panthers come off a short week after watching the Packers almost turn a blowout into an upset and the Cardinals finally notched their first win of the year. What could make this intriguing is that the Panther secondary has been toasted this year and the Cardinals got a huge game out of McCown last week. For all the defensive firepower of Carolina, their opponents have averaged 24 points a game this year. Playing in Arizona should make this game much closer than expected and while the Cardinals have only beaten the 49ers this year, they'll make the Panthers work to win this one.

These teams met in week 11 last year and the Panthers won 35-10.

Carolina Panthers (2-2)
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 32-29 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 at ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 200,1
RB DeShaun Foster 40 20 0
RB Stephen Davis 70,2 10 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 10 0
WR Steve Smith 0 100,1 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 30 0
WR Rod Gardner 0 20 0
PK John Kasay 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: Both of the Panthers losses have been by three points and for the want of just one more score they could be 4-0 now. Stephen Davis and Deshaun Foster are defying reason by remaining healthy after the first month of playing but after four games played, this will only be their second road trip of the year.

Quarterback: After turning in small games for the first two weeks of the year, Jake Delhomme had a big 285 yard, three touchdown game in Miami during that loss and then followed it up with only 206 yards and two scores against the Packers in a game that the Panthers thought they had easily won.

In retrospect, one more touchdown would have given Carolina more breathing room while Favre mounted a furious late game comeback bid. Delhomme has the ability and receivers for a good game when needed, but the offense has wanted to remain primarily rushing and ball control - hence every game being close.

Delhomme threw for only 157 yards and two touchdowns during the blowout over the Cardinals last year.

Running Backs: Stephen Davis has now scored six touchdowns on the year in only four games but that's solely because he can get the short yardage. He's only averaging 61 yards per game and he's only gained about 2.7 yards per carry for the last three weeks. Deshaun Foster had nine runs for 38 yards against the Packers and he remains roughly 1:3 for carries shared with Davis.

In the meeting last year, Nick Goings was the starter and ripped off 121 yards and three touchdowns.

Wide Receivers: Sweet release. After missing 15 consecutive passes over the span of three games, Keary Colbert finally managed to hold on to a throw and ended with 52 yards on four catches against the Packers. Had he gone any further with no catches, it was becoming certain that Rod Gardner would get a chance at starting. Steve Smith was held to only 12 yards on two catches last Monday but only because the Packers focused solely on stopping him and then the game situation dictated that the Panthers would turn to the rushing game to consume the clock.

Muhsin Muhammad had 118 yards and both passing scores in the game against the Cardinals last year.

Tight Ends: Delhomme threw two scores last week and both went to tight ends. Michael Gaines had two catches for 42 yards with one score and the other went to Kris Mangum. This was the first time the tight ends had scored for Carolina and likely the last time for a while.

Mangum only had one catch for three yards in 2004 against Arizona.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals rushing defense has allowed every opponent to score at least once on the ground and rack up over 100 yards other than the 49ers. Little doubt that the Panthers will be using Foster and Davis heavily again this week and even splitting carries they should end up with decent showings here. Davis should be a near lock for at least one score.

The Arizona secondary has not allowed much this year but no opposing quarterback has thrown for more than 31 passes and as such, the numbers have not been much. Expect that Delhomme throws for one score but more than that will mean the rushing game is not working well and there is no reason why that should happen. Look for Steve Smith to rebound after last week but he won't likely have a huge game here because the Panthers will be running too much to get Smith the volume of catches he would need. The key element here is that the Cardinals have already lost both starting cornerbacks and the Panthers should be able to throw at will against them- the question is if they bother.

Arizona Cardinals (1-3)
1 19-42 @NYG 10 Nov 13 @DET
2 12-17 STL 11 Nov 20 @STL
3 12-37 @SEA 12 Nov 27 JAC
4 31-14 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 vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh McCown 0 0 220,2
RB J.J. Arrington -2 10 0
RB Marcel Shipp 50 20 0
TE Teyo Johnson 0 20 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 70,1 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 80,1 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 20 0
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals finally managed to get a win this season with a resounding thumping of the injury-decimated 49ers. Josh McCown had a career game and it all worked when the 49ers showed up without a hint of a defense. The Cardinals have their bye after this game and would love to end up 2-3 at that point. In the NFC West, that could keep them right in the thick of the title race.

Quarterback: Josh McCown took his first start of the season last week and ended up with 385 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers. He completed 32 of 46 passes and looked like he should have been the starter over Warner all year. That's mostly just the soft defense that San Francisco brought though and this week will prove a far bigger challenge, if only from the pass rush.

In the meeting last season, Shaun King was the starter and threw for 343 yards and one score.

Running Backs: Marcel Shipp ran 16 times for 42 yards last week and still has yet to score a touchdown. He did add five catches for 52 yards for his best yardage of the season and J.J. Arrington even ended up with positive yardage by rushing seven times for 13 yards. Arrington actually had negative yardage after his first four carries but during late game trash time had a couple of nice runs while the 49ers defense was exhausted.

Arrington seems to be a magnet of sorts since each time he takes a handoff, there are at least two defenders about to blast him. While Green has not publicly said he has given up on Arrington, the reality is that Arrington had almost no role until late in the game and even then struggled. This rushing attack has never produced a single game with more than 60 rushing yards.

Emmitt Smith had only 26 rushing yards in the defeat by the Panthers in 2004.

Wide Receivers: Sadly, every opponent cannot be the 49ers. Both Larry Fitzgerald (13-155) and Anquan Boldin (8-116) had huge games and both scored once. Even Bryant Johnson managed to catch four passes for 50 yards last week. The visiting Panther secondary can be beaten, but no team gives up yardage like the 49ers have this year.

Larry Fitzgerald gained 92 yards and one score in the last meeting with the Panthers while Boldin turned in 75 yards and no score.

Tight Ends: Teyo Johnson is quietly becoming the primary receiving tight end in Arizona and it is quiet because last week was the best ever for a Cardinals tight end - two catches for 16 yards.

Freddie Jones was the starter last season when the Cardinals played Carolina and had his best game of the year, nabbing six catches for 75 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers rushing defense has been both great and terrible depending on the game but since Arizona has never been anything more than bad at rushing, figure Shipp for another lackluster game and Arrington to take no more than a handful of handoffs before getting blasted in the backfield.

Where the Cardinals will have to shine to compete in this game is via the pass with McCown. They catch a break since Carolina is on the road after a Monday night game and the Panthers have given up seven passing scores this year. What ever McCown manages to get will likely be in trash time though and outside of Fitzgerald and Boldin, there are no significant receivers for the Cardinals. Look for something in the low 200's from McCown who is not Brett Favre. Fitzgerald gets the better matchup here and should turn in more than Boldin.