fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


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: Atlanta 20, Carolina 23

This is the first of two match-ups this season in what should prove pivotal games in the NFC South. The Falcons swept the Panthers last year 27-10 and 34-31 but currently trail the Panthers by one game and are tied with the Buccaneers at 7-4. Atlanta has been off since last Thursday so the time to prepare has been more than what the Panthers have had. This is a very big game for both teams. If Carolina wins, they take a two game lead over the Falcons and maintain at least one game over the Bucs who they have already beaten once this season. If the Falcons were to lose this game, they would remain in wildcard contention but hopes of a divisional title would be much slimmer.

Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
1 14-10 PHI 10 25-33 GBP
2 18-21 @SEA 11 27-30 TBB
3 24-16 @BUF 12 27-7 @DET
4 30-10 MIN 13 Dec 4 @CAR
5 28-31 NE 14 Dec 12 NOR
6 34-31 @NOR 15 Dec 18 @CHI
7 27-14 NYJ 16 Dec 24 @TBB
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 CAR
9 17-10 @MIA M THU SAT
ATL at CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 40 0 190,1
RB Warrick Dunn 70 20 0
RB T.J. Duckett 20,1 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 70,1 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 40 0
WR Michael Jenkins 0 40 0
WR Roddy White 0 20 0
PK Todd Peterson 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Falcons dropped two straight home games before finally getting to spank the Lions on Thanksgiving. They are 4-1 on the road with the only loss a three point game in Seattle.

Quarterback: Michael Vick had a very slow start to the season, statistically speaking, but then again they were winning back then. He has been on an unprecedented passing binge lately though and has thrown for two scores in each of his last three games and been over 200 passing yards in three of the last four games. What has been largely missing is the run - he had 57 yards last Thursday but never had more than 38 yards in the four previous match-ups.

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn ran for 116 yards on only 17 carries in Detroit while T.J. Duckett had a season high 19 carries for 72 yards and one score. Fact is that most of Duckett's work came in the second half when the game was already over. Oddly enough, three of Dunn's best four games all came on the road.

Wide Receivers: All this passing lately has benefited the wideouts like never before but there remains a lot of inconsistency. Michael Jenkins scored once and had 69 yards against the Bucs but had no catches last week nor did Brian Finneran who had been staying above 30 yards in each of the previous three games. The rookie Roddy White had a franchise best 108 yards against the Bucs but returned to only 25 yards last week - much closer to what he normally does. Vick is using the wideouts more, but there is no traditional use of any particular wideout with any consistency.

Tight Ends: Vick has returned to preferring Alge Crumpler in a big way, throwing three touchdowns to him over the last two games with a season high of 104 yards last week. Crumpler remains above 50 yards in almost every game but Vick has been showing him more attention and using him as an endzone receiver again.

Match Against the Defense: This should prove an interesting match-up. The Panthers are outstanding against the run, allowing no more than 75 yards to any visiting runner and giving up only two rushing scores in the last eight games. Look for a standard use of Dunn and Duckett here that combined should end close to 100 yards and no more than one rushing score if that.

Vick gets to enjoy having LB Dan Morgan out and he is the only running quarterback to face the Panthers so far. But the Panthers will undoubtedly be pressing at the line and containing Vick to force him to throw. In the last six games, there have only been three passing scores so Vick's double score record is likely to fall here. Expect a moderate passing game here but one that will favor Crumpler. The tight ends have done well against Carolina this year and Vick is back to focusing on Crumpler again.

Carolina Panthers (8-3)
1 20-23 NOR 10 30-3 NYJ
2 27-17 NE 11 3-13 @CHI
3 24-27 @MIA 12 13-9 @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 vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 230,1
RB DeShaun Foster 80 20 0
RB Stephen Davis 20,1 0 0
TE Michael Gaines 0 10 0
WR Steve Smith 0 110,1 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 30 0
WR Rod Gardner 0 20 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 30 0
PK John Kasay 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Panthers lead the NFC South but the offense has taken quite a tumble in the last two games on the road against decent defenses. After scoring over 30 points in three straight games, the Panthers have only managed 16 points in the last two weeks but eked out a win in Buffalo. Back at home the Panthers have won their last four games though inevitably the games are close when the opponents are good as the Falcons should be. The Panthers have a tough schedule from here until the end of the season and need this game to stay on track.

Quarterback: After turning in multiple touchdowns for five straight games, Jake Delhomme has only throw for one score in three of the last four games and was blanked in Chicago. He has not had more than 235 yards in any game since week eight and yet has thrown two interceptions. The Panthers enjoyed a relatively light schedule for the first half of the season but are now struggling to pass well for the past month.

Running Backs: After being a huge fantasy surprise for the first ten games of the season, Stephen Davis has fallen off the map and been demoted behind DeShaun Foster. Davis had 12 touchdowns in the first nine games but in the last two weeks combined has only had 10 carries for 28 yards and no score. Evidently the coaching staff finally noticed that Davis was a one-trick pony that could only score one yard touchdowns and last week finally gave Foster a more starring role. He responded by only gaining 77 yards on 23 carries against the Bills that had often allowed that by halftime. The running game has never been great here but at least they were getting close enough to score short touchdowns. Now even that has left. Expect Davis to remain with short-yardage duty but the coaching staff likes the better speed of Foster.

Wide Receivers: While Rod Gardner and Keary Colbert occasionally catch passes and even have the odd touchdown every month or so, this passing attack has been all about Steve Smith for a good reason - he is the leading receiver in the NFL right now. But Smith has not scored a touchdown in three games as the schedule tightened up. He had 14 catches for 169 yards against the Bears but that came on 21 passes and otherwise, Delhomme only threw about five times to Smith in the other two games during this dry spell.

Tight Ends: Michael Gaines had his second score of the year last week but he's used no more consistently than any other wideout not named Smith, and usually even less.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons have been much softer against the run while on the road but the Panthers have yet to commit to the sort of rushing game needed to produce big numbers. Look for Foster to notch upwards of 80 yards if the Panthers can stay in control of the game but the score would almost certainly end up with Davis if it happens.

Delhomme faces a secondary that has not often been that tested and playing at home should help Delhomme post at least moderate numbers. The big yardage games seem a thing of the past now and while Smith could have a big game here, it will depend on which version of Delhomme he gets - the one that throws 21 times or 5 times to him during the game. The Falcon corners are only average which should spell a good game here by Smith.