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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 16, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at DET* MIA at TBB* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CLE at BAL NYG at DAL* NYJ at BUF PHI, SF *Updated

Prediction: Carolina 17, Detroit 20

So far the Lions are perfect - win 'em all at home and lose all the road games. The Panthers come off a road win in Phoenix and have a knack for getting into close games every week. While the Panthers have the better record coming into this game, the Lions are actually all alone leading the NFC North at only 2-2. Where this game gets interesting is via the passing. The Panthers have had problems and yet the Lions have yet to ever throw well.

Update: Both DeShaun Foster and Stephen Davis are considered questionable this week and it appears unlikely that Foster will play. Davis was held out of practice on Wednesday but returned for work on Thursday. While Davis still has some risk, it appears he will play this week and without Foster there, Nick Goings will fill-in as a replacement. That likely means Davis gets as big a share of the carries as his knee can withstand - however much that proves to be.

Carolina Panthers (3-2)
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 24-20 @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 DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 220,2
RB DeShaun Foster 30 50,1 0
RB Nick Goings 20 20 0
RB Stephen Davis 60 10 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 30,1 0
WR Steve Smith 0 50 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 20 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 40 0
PK John Kasay 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Panthers have been giving up a lot of yardage to wideouts lately and CB Chris Gamble was benched last week after getting toasted by Fitzgerald. But the Panthers shut him down the rest of the game and Gamble should be better this week since his bad ankle should improve. The Panthers cannot afford a loss here with the Bucs and Falcons in their division and this is the final game before the bye in week seven.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme remains solid the last three weeks, throwing for at least two scores in every game though his yardage has only once topped 243 yards this season. The only question to this passing game is if Steve Smith can get open because no other Panther wideout or tight end has done much the entire season.

Running Backs: The mix-n-match continues between Stephen Davis and De'shaun Foster and the good news is that both remain healthy - truly an accomplishment in itself. Davis scored once last week and has seven scores on the year but he's been small in the yardage department, never gaining more than 51 yards in the last three games. Foster has a much better per carry average (4.5) but has yet to have more than nine carries in a game. Foster has been solid in the passing game and typically turns in about three catches for around 50 yards per game.

Wide Receivers: The pattern here has been very consistent. Every odd-numbered week, Steve Smith goes off and turns in a huge game. He had 119 yards and two scores last week and currently has six scores on the year. On even numbered weeks, Smith has struggled and never had more than 34 yards with no touchdowns. It all comes down to how well he is covered because no other wideout here has scored nor done much of anything. Keary Colbert has managed catches in only two of the five games this year and Ricky Proehl has only one game of note back in week two when he caught one long pass. So goes Smith, so goes the Panthers passing attack.

Tight Ends: Kris Mangum has one score on the year but normally only has a couple of catches for around 20 yards per game regardless of what else happens in the game.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers should have moderate success rushing the ball here but they've only allowed one runner to score against them this year - on the ground anyway. Both Pittman and Lewis had receiving scores lately and that could spell a better game for Foster this week.

CB Dre Bly gets matched up on Steve Smith and that should cause Smith to replicate what he has done all season long - follow up a monster game with a little one. Look for Delhomme to continue his trend of throwing for less than 240 yards and while he should score at least once, it won't likely be to Steve Smith unless they can move him around enough to get better matchups. The Lions have been very good against wideouts and the Panthers have not been adept at using anyone outside of Smith this season.

Detroit Lions (2-2)
1 17-3 GBP 10 Nov 13 ARI
2 6-38 @CHI 11 Nov 20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 24 ATL
4 13-17 @TBB 13 Dec 4 MIN
5 35-17 BAL 14 Dec 11 @GBP
6 Oct 16 CAR 15 Dec 18 CIN
7 Oct 23 @CLE 16 Dec 24 @NOR
8 Oct 30 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 Nov 6 @MIN . THU SAT
DET vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 160,1
RB Kevin Jones 70,1 10 0
RB Artose Pinner 30 0 0
RB Shawn Bryson 10 30 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 40.1 0
WR Mike Williams 0 30 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 40 0
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Lions come off their biggest win of the year, 35-17 against the Ravens despite continuing their woes in the passing game. With Charles Rogers already done, the Lions lost Roy Williams last week with a strained left quad and Mike Williams was banged up with cramps and a sore back. But the defense played very well and Kevin Jones scored twice - enough to win last week and likely enough to take this game as well.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia is bound to take the starting job here once he is healthy because Joey Harrington has been nothing short of a disaster. Even in the big win last week he only completed 10 of 23 for 97 yards and one score against two interceptions. To make matters worse, Rogers is suspended, Roy Williams has a quad injury and Mike Williams is banged up. Harrington is just a place holder for now and even though he Panthers this week seem open for exploiting, nothing that Harrington has done this year suggest he is the man to do it.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones still has never gained more than 87 rushing yards in any game this year and he is rarely used in the passing scheme but he has three scores in the last two games and four on the season. Even Artose Pinner came in to score last week against the Ravens and the ground game is the closest thing Detroit can point at as successful. At least it doesn't cause Harrington to throw interceptions.

Jones had a slight concussion last week but it is not expected to be an issue for this game.

Wide Receivers: What once looked very formidable has turned out to be rather anemic. Charles Rogers is still gone for three more games and Roy Williams appears likely to miss this week with a quad injury. That only leaves Mike Williams who is also banged up and Kevin Johnson who has oddly enough been the best receiver beyond Roy Williams this year even though he is only considered a #4 under normal circumstances. Johnson could end up as the only healthy wideout this week.

Tight Ends: Marcus Pollard started the season with a 58 yard, one score game and has declined every week. Against the Ravens, he had no catches. Casey Fitzsimmons caught only his fourth pass on the season but it was for a score last week.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers rushing defense has been good at home this season but on the road allowed up to 132 rushing yards. Look for Kevin Jones to get likely a high number of carries this week and end up with one score and decent yardage though still likely below the 100 yard mark.

The passing game has a great chance to shine here but Harrington has just been horrible this season and the wideouts are either suspended, out with injury or at least banged up. This should be a chance for Pollard to get back into the swing going against a team that has allowed four tight end scores already and has been beaten by tight ends in almost every game. The use of Fitzsimmons has been only sporadic, so Pollard remains the best bet here. Harrington should manage one passing score to a tight end but expecting a wideout to get a touchdown seems overly optimistic if only because Roy Williams is out.