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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 21, 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at CIN NYG at WAS TEN at MIA* IND at SEA* Mon 9 PM
DET at NO* SD at KC* CHI at GB Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Atlanta 16, Tampa Bay 27

The Buccaneers won 30-27 when these teams met in Atlanta during week 11 and the Falcons continue to struggle each time they face a team with a winning record. The Buccaneers come off a painful shutout in New England but still went 2-1 on a tough three game road schedule. A loss here means the Falcons can forget about the playoffs and even in the best case, their fortunes are dwindling fast. A win here by Tampa Bay puts them in the driver's seat for no worse than a wild card.

Atlanta Falcons (8-6)
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 6-24 @CAR
5 28-31 NE 14 36-17 NOR
6 34-31 @NOR 15 3-16 @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 TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 40 0 190,1
RB Warrick Dunn 80 20 0
RB T.J. Duckett 20 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 40 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 50 0
WR Michael Jenkins 0 20 0
WR Roddy White 0 40,1 0
PK Todd Peterson 3 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: After starting the season 6-2, the Falcons have gone 2-4 over the last six games and suddenly discover themselves on the outside looking in. The Falcons are in control of their own destiny with final games against the Panthers and Buccaneers but then again - they already lost to both earlier this season.

Quarterback: Michael Vick threw for 306 yards and two scores while rushing for just 17 yards in the week 11 game in Atlanta against the Buccaneers. That was, rather easily, his best game of the year and in the four games since has only thrown for three scores and six interceptions with only one effort over 171 yards. Vick's production on the road has also lagged with only one game with over that 171 yard game as well.

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn remains a solid part of the running game with around 80 yards in most games though he has not scored in five weeks. Dunn gained 82 yards on 18 carries and T.J. Duckett added 51 yards and a score in the previous game against Tampa Bay this year.

Wide Receivers: Last week the Bears only allowed Brian Finneran to have any success but Michael Jenkins scored once and had 69 yards while Roddy White had four catches for 108 yards against the Bucs in week 11. Finneran is continually pointed at as the only wideout who consistently runs crisp routes while Roddy White relies more on catching the long pass. Jenkins may have turned in decent numbers in the previous match-up against the Bucs, but in the four games since he has only had a total of 76 yards on seven catches.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler gained 49 yards and a score when the Bucs visited in week 11. Vick has been relying on Crumpler less in recent games and has only completed two or three passes per game to him in the last three weeks though Crumpler has been surprisingly dropping passes lately. Crumpler has a swollen right elbow and should be questionable this week. I will assume he will play pending further reports.

Match Against the Defense: This is a replay of just a month ago and if anything, the Falcons are playing worse and the Bucs have been playing better (other than last week of course). Tampa Bay is at home and needs this game to keep their decent shot at the playoffs alive. Look for a standard game from Dunn who runs for around 80 yards in virtually every game but for the rushing game to produce no scores here.

Vick has been erratic on the road and struggled lately. He had a monster game in the last meeting that was largely due to two long passes caught by Roddy White who no longer is a surprise to the secondary. Expect only a moderate game here passing that should produce one touchdown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5)
1 24-13 @MIN 10 36-35 WAS
2 19-3 BUF 11 30-27 @ATL
3 17-16 @GBP 12 10-13 CHI
4 17-13 DET 13 10-3 @NOR
5 12-14 @NYJ 14 20-10 @CAR
6 27-13 MIA 15 0-28 @NE
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 ATL
8 10-15 @SFO 17 Jan 1 NOR
9 14-34 CAR . . SAT
TBB vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Simms 0 0 200,1
RB Cadillac Williams 110,1 20 0
RB Mike Alstott 10,1 0 0
TE Alex Smith 0 20 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 90,1 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 20 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 40 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bucs got slaughtered last week but that was more a case of running out of gas on their third straight road game which followed a big win in Carolina the previous week. With a win over the Falcons in Atlanta already and a chance to secure no worse than a wildcard bid on the line here, this is a big game for the Bucs and yet another reason why last week was not that important to them.

Quarterback: Chris Simms threw for just 118 yards in the previous match-up with the Falcons and he's only had one passing score in the four games since with only one game over 155 yards. But that came at home where Simms has played markedly better this season. In fact the only home game where Simms failed to throw for at least one score was the Chicago game.

Running Backs: Carnell Williams was ineffective last week when he only had 23 yards on 14 carries but he had been above 80 yards in each of the previous four games and along with the rest of the team flopped against the Patriots. Williams ran for 116 yards and one score against the Falcons this year.

Wide Receivers: Joey Galloway has really declined in recent weeks and hasn't managed to gain more than 39 yards in each of the last two games. The good news here is that Galloway has always shined at home. In his last five home games, he has scored in four of them and never turned in less than 83 yards with three 100 yard games. This should be the week that Galloway gets back on track given his consistent showings at home this year.

Galloway had no catches and Clayton caught three passes for 48 yards in the previous game against the Falcons.

Tight Ends: Alex Smith had three catches for 43 yards against the Falcons this year.

Match Against the Defense: Finally back at home after a brutal three game road stretch, the Buccaneers end the season with two meaningful home games. Look for Carnell Williams to bounce back here against a team he already had success against in Atlanta. He should manage one rushing score as well.

Simms has really struggled on the road but back at home should see his best game in a month against the Falcons. That still may not get him over the 200 yard mark but should result in at least one score and a renewal of Galloway's career best year.