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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 30,, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at MIA* HOU at BAL TEN at IND* DEN at KC Mon 9 PM
CIN at PIT JAC at CLE* Sun 4 PM NYJ at NE SEA at PHI
DAL at NYG MIN at DET* ARI at SF* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Arizona 20, San Francisco 17

Hard to say which of these teams need a win more but the Cardinals already won 31-14 in San Francisco back in week four of this season. The only changes going into this week are that the 49ers no longer have Tim Rattay and have lost even more defensive players. The 49ers get the benefit of trash time and the fact that most teams just are not that motivated against them. This is not true with the Cardinals.

Update: Neil Rackers injured his calf and is likely to miss this week. His replacement has not been named and tryouts will occcur on Friday. Marcel Shipp is doubtful to play with a sprained neck and I am removing him from the projections. Arnaz Battle has not practiced this week due to a sprained right knee but is expected to play. I am lowering his projections slightly. Joe Nedney is also questionable with a hip injury but is expected to play.

Arizona Cardinals (3-8)
1 19-42 @NYG 10 21-29 @DET
2 12-17 STL 11 38-28 @STL
3 12-37 @SEA 12 17-24 JAC
4 31-14 SFO 13 Dec 4 @SFO
5 20-24 CAR 14 Dec 11 WAS
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @HOU
7 20-10 TEN 16 Dec 24 PHI
8 13-34 @DAL 17 Jan 1 @IND
9 19-33 SEA . . SAT
ARZ at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner 0 0 320,2
RB J.J. Arrington 60 10 0
RB Marcel Shipp 30 10 0
TE Adam Bergen 0 20 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 110,1 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 120,1 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 40 0
PK TBD 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The last five games have been brutal for the Cardinals who had home stands against the Jaguars and Seahawks and three road games which they can never win - until this week. The 49ers used to get into shootouts with the Cardinals but this year's offense is even worse than 2004 - and you thought that was impossible.

Quarterback: Since week nine when Kurt Warner returned, he's been an outstanding fantasy quarterback with every game over 285 yards and at least one score. Josh McCown threw for 385 yards and two scores against the 49ers earlier this season. Plenty of passing in this game by the Cardinals and should provide a fifth straight great start by Warner.

Running Backs: J.J. Arrington is slowly coming along and taking the primary role from Marcel Shipp. Arrington has the only rushing scores by the Cardinals this season and he's been getting the same or more carries than Shipp over the last three games. He's also averaging around four yards per carry over those games though he has yet to run more than 11 times in any game. The Cardinals only had 55 rushing yards against the 49ers in week four.

Wide Receivers: Both Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald have been outstanding for the last month and together they make the most productive tandem in the NFL. Each has three scores over the last four weeks and each has two 100 yard games over that time. Boldin had 116 yards and Fitzgerald gained 102 yards against the 49ers earlier this year and both scored once.

Bryant Johnson showed up last week as a surprise and had 77 yards on five catches but make no mistake - this team is all about Boldin and Fitzgerald.

Tight Ends: The two week span of Adam Bergen logging 30 or more yards was merely a teaser. He had only one catch for two yards last week. No consistency other than almost always no production.

Match Against the Defense: As a replay, there is no reason to assume they Cardinals will throw less or that the 49ers will be any better against the pass since they just gave up 343 yards to McNair last week and continue to rank as the worst secondary in the NFL. The Cardinals may try to run a little more this time since Arrington is better lately but the 49ers at home are much tougher against the run. Expect the norm here - Warner, Boldin and Fitzgerald and not that much else.

San Francisco 49ers (2-9)
1 28-25 STL 10 9-17 @CHI
2 3-42 @PHI 11 25-27 SEA
3 31-34 DAL 12 22-23 @TEN
4 14-31 @ARI 13 Dec 4 ARI
5 3-28 IND 14 Dec 11 @SEA
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @JAC
7 17-52 @WAS 16 Dec 24 @STL
8 15-10 TBB 17 Jan 1 HOU
9 6-24 NYG . . SAT
SFO vs ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith 0 0 150,1
RB Kevan Barlow 60,1 10 0
RB Maurice Hicks 30 0 0
TE Terry Jones 0 10 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 0 60,1 0
WR Johnnie Morton 0 20 0
WR Arnaz Battle 0 20 0
PK Joe Nedney 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The 49ers are scoring more points lately though always in a losing effort and never so close that the outcome is seriously in doubt. The 49ers played tough against the visiting Seahawks but that was a later game event and the Seahawks played like they knew they could win. This will be the most "winnable" game left this year other than the final week against Houston. But the Cards are hungry for a win and will be plenty motivated in this game.

Quarterback: Ken Dorsey came off his surprising 249 yard effort against Seattle and only managed 192 yards and one score against the Titans that included two interceptions and one lost fumble. The 49er passing game is almost completely limited to pitch and catch with Brandon Lloyd and most defenses can stop that. The week four game against the Cards was when the transition to Alex Smith happened. Tim Rattay had 126 yards and Smith came in to go 6 of 10 for 34 yards. Neither scored.

Alex Smith has already been named the starter for the rest of the year and the learning curve is back in effect.

Running Backs: Kevan Barlow comes off his third touchdown of the year when he ran 14 times for 40 yards against the Titans but he only gained 45 yards against the Cardinals in week four and only had 10 carries in that blowout loss. The 49ers are mixing in Maurice Hicks as well with Gore out last week so what little Barlow could do only gets watered down in a committee situation.

Wide Receivers: Last week had Arnaz Battle turned in seven catches for 75 yards and one score but he only had one catch for 11 yards the previous week. The 49ers concentrate much more on getting the ball to Brandon Lloyd who only had three receptions for 30 yards last week but was thrown 12 passes in the game - more than any other player. Lloyd had 13 passes the previous week when he had 119 yards and a score against the Seahawks. Brandon Lloyd had 102 yards against the Cards already this year while Morton only had 42 yards. Battle was injured that week.

Tight Ends: Terry Jones comes off a three catch, 15 yard game that actually is the fourth best of the season for the 49ers. No fantasy value here.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers will run much more successfully now that they are at home in this match-up and the Cardinals rush defense has declined since that previous week four match-up. But the question is how much the ball will be shared between Barlow, Gore (if he plays) and possibly Hicks? Expect a marginally successful run game here with just enough for Barlow to give him fantasy significance this week.

Dorsey goes against a defense that has an improved secondary from seasons past and most of the worst games for the Cards have been on the road. But expecting more than around 200 yards and a score from the 49ers passing attack is wildly optimistic. The passes primarily go to Lloyd who was successful before against Arizona but Battle has showed up lately and could figure in as well.