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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 23, 2005
Season Ticket
Thanksgiving Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DEN at DAL CHI at TB* SF at TEN* MIA at OAK Mon 9 PM
Sun 1 PM CLE at MIN STL at HOU GB at PHI* PIT at IND
BAL at CIN NE at KC   NYG at SEA Times ET

Prediction: Carolina 24, Buffalo 16

Both of these teams come off painful losses. The Panthers could only manage one field goal against the Bears while the Bills posted ten points against the Chargers but lost by 38 points. It was the first loss by the Panthers in seven games and was the first time they had fallen below 20 points in any game this season. The Bills have scored more than 20 points only once in the last nine games. The interesting fact here is that the Bills have lost all five road games but are 4-1 at home.

Carolina Panthers (7-3)
1 20-23 NOR 10 30-3 NYJ
2 27-17 NE 11 3-13 @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 21-20 @DET 15 Dec 18 @NOR
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 DAL
8 38-13 MIN 17 Jan 1 @ATL
9 34-14 @TBB . MON SAT
CAR at BUF Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 220,2
RB DeShaun Foster 80 10 0
RB Stephen Davis 40,1 0 0
TE Michael Gaines 0 10 0
WR Steve Smith 0 110,1 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 20 0
WR Rod Gardner 0 30 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 30,1 0
PK John Kasay 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Panthers were bullied in Chicago and Delhomme was regularly bashed every time he went back to pass. There's never been anything impressive with the rushing game other than Davis is a lock from the one yard line but the offensive line has never allowed Delhomme to be so abused by the rush as he was last week. Carolina has two huge home games coming up against the Falcons and Buccaneers but they cannot allow this game to get away from them.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme comes off one of his worst games of the season when he only managed to gain 235 passing yards and two interceptions with no scores. He was also sacked eight times. It broke his streak of seven straight games with a score but his numbers have declined recently with the Panthers facing a more formidable set of defenses in the Bucs, Jets and Bears. Prior to that string of three games, Delhomme had thrown multiple touchdowns for the previous five consecutive games.

Running Backs: Changes seem to be brewing here. Stephen Davis only had four carries for six yards last week while DeShaun Foster had nine runs for 41 yards. Davis was visibly upset with his lack of playing time after the game and yet the reality is that he has only averaged about three yards per carry this season and most of that was thanks to a few games that pumped his stats that high. Foster is gaining around 4.5 per run and is clearly the better runner as long as the goal line is not near. The coaching staff alluded to using Foster more as the primary runner but officially Davis has not been phased out. Only realistically. No doubt he will remain in "certain packages" that include goal line duty.

Wide Receivers: To say that Steve Smith is the primary receiver in this offense is like describing Hurricane Katrina as a pretty bad rain storm. Of the 38 passes that Delhomme threw, 21 of them went to Smith who managed to catch 14 of them for 169 yards though he was unable to score (as were the rest of the Panthers). Smith had a freak low 34 yards against the Jets the previous week but only had five passes. When any player gets 21 passes, chances are the player will have a decent game.

Keary Colbert is back to one pass and no catches and Rod Gardner only had one reception for 12 yards. Seems all that exists here is Steve Smith. Delhomme knows it. The defenses know it. It still happens.

Tight Ends: Kris Mangum has been out and Michael Gaines now gets the one or two receptions per week. The best thing about the tight end here is that he is really close to Steve Smith on every play.

Match Against the Defense: This will be a tough enough game that the Panthers have to resist thinking about the two big games that wait for them in the coming weeks. The Bills rushing defense has been nothing short of a disaster this season and almost every opposing runner has been at or over 100 rushing yards and almost always score at least once. The Bills play better at home, but still have been giving up the run yards there. Expect some decent yardage from Foster but there still is a question as to how much he will be used over Davis. I like Davis to at least score once in this game if only to make him happy.

Delhomme goes against a much softer defense than he had last week but the Bills at home have never allowed more than 226 passing yards largely because everyone is busy running against them. Expect a moderate yardage game here from Delhomme with at least one touchdown and a chance for two. That favors - 'gasp' - Steve Smith.

Buffalo Bills (4-6)
1 22-7 HOU 10 14-3 KCC
2 3-19 @TBB 11 10-48 @SDC
3 16-24 ATL 12 Nov 27 CAR
4 7-19 @NOR 13 Dec 4 @MIA
5 20-14 MIA 14 Dec 11 NE
6 27-17 NYJ 15 Dec 17 DEN
7 17-38 @OAK 16 Dec 24 @CIN
8 16-21 @NE 17 Jan 1 @NYJ
9 Open Bye . . SAT
BUF vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB J. P. Losman 0 0 150,1
RB Willis McGahee 70 10 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 40 0
WR Lee Evans 0 80,1 0
WR Josh Reed 0 10 0
PK Rian Lindell 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bills are a tale of two cities. There is Buffalo, where they have won four of five games. And there is every other city where they have lost every game. Just when the Bills were feeling good about themselves by beating the visiting Chiefs and making J.P. Losman think he had passed some hurdle, the Bills went to San Diego where their offense was boxed up, gift wrapped and sent via parcel post back to Buffalo. It was a devastating and rather thorough dismantling of every facet of their team. While the players and coaches said the right things after the game, fact is that one will leave a mark. It was the worst loss by the Bills in 20 years.

Quarterback: J.P. Losman has now started two games since returning and while he had two scores against the Chiefs, he only had one in San Diego while throwing for 168 yards and one interception. Plus he lost a fumble. And all that came in a game that was almost entirely trash time since the score was 35-10 by halftime. Losman has started six games this year and has never thrown for more than 170 yards. I am assuming that Losman starts this week since Holcomb was out with a concussion since week ten but will update if warranted.

Running Backs: Not surprisingly, Willis McGahee had three of his four scores this season while playing with Holcomb as quarterback and these last two weeks have only seen him run for 66 and 39 yards. The offense sputters when Losman plays and the defense just concentrates on stopping McGahee until the scoreboard forces the Bills to just throw every play.

Wide Receivers: Eric Moulds must have done something to make Losman mad. Either that or the quarterback cannot look to his left because Moulds went from scoring in three of the last four games with Holcomb to only having 26 and 38 yards in the last two games with Losman. What does improve are the numbers for Lee Evans who had 66 yards and two scores against the Chiefs and still had 69 yards last week. Without Losman there, Evans has disappeared this season but he becomes the primary when Losman plays.

Tight Ends: No catches last week and rarely more than one or two in any game.

Match Against the Defense: The Bills are in a precarious position now with a 4-6 record, an inability to win on the road and a lack of offense no matter where they play. The Panthers rush defense is very good and has allowed only three rushing scores in the last nine weeks and only one runner has gone over 87 yards against them this season. Expect a moderate game from McGahee with little chance of a score.

The Panthers have allowed decent passing yardage when playing against the better passing teams but that doesn't really apply here. While I will revisit this if Holcomb plays, with Losman there is no reason to expect more than his average showing of around 150 yards and one score that will favor Lee Evans.