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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 13, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
Sunday Late
DET at CHI OAK at BAL STL at SF   updated

Prediction: CAR 13, MIN 17

Evidently the Panthers without Steve Smith are quite a different cat. The Falcons left Carolina and the vaunted Panther defense was left scratching its collective head. The Vikings come off a Monday night win in Washington as an extension of the "visitors win" weekend and continue to show up as a far better defense than we've been used to seeing wearing purple. The Panthers have a road trip to Tampa Bay next week, so this game could really put the Panthers in a bind with a loss.

The Panthers won 38-13 against the Vikes during week eight of last year.

Carolina Panthers (0-1)
1 6-20 ATL 10 --- TB
2 --- @MIN 11 --- STL
3 --- @TB 12 --- @WAS
4 --- NO 13 --- @PHI
5 --- CLE 14 --- NYG
6 --- @BAL 15 --- PIT
7 --- @CIN 16 --- @ATL
8 --- DAL 17 --- @NO
9 Open Bye - - MON
CAR at MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 210,1
RB DeShaun Foster 50 10 0
RB DeAngelo Williams 10 20 0
TE Michael Gaines 0 30 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 20 0
WR Drew Carter 0 60,1 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
PK John Kasay 3 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Panthers were hitting on all eight cylinders to end last year and on Sunday there must have been some sugar in the gas tank. One of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl this year, the Panthers allowed 252 rushing yards to the Falcons on Sunday - the second most in franchise history and at home no less. Couple that with a sudden inability to run the ball themselves and the absence of Steve Smith and the Panthers were shot down in their own den. Losing LB Dan Morgan to a concussion was yet another blow along with two O-line injuries.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme has always been a solid quarterback mostly limited because of his own defense and rushing game but against the Falcons he could only muster 186 yards and one fumble and one interception. Due in part to offensive line injuries, Delhomme was sacked four times and battered about on many other plays. Without a star receiver, Delhomme was unable to consistently move the ball and just had a big reality check about life without Smith.

Delhomme had 341 yards and three scores against the Vikes in week eight of last year.

Running Backs: DeShaun Foster had ravaged the Falcons last year in his two biggest efforts of the season but that set the Falcons to work that came to fruit on Sunday when he only carried 15 times for 54 yards and had four catches for 20 yards. In a game that progressively had less rushing, the rookie DeAngelo Williams did not have a single carry though he had one catch. The starting LT Travelle Wharton injured his knee and now has been placed on injured reserve. The Panthers also replaced RG Evan Mathis. The outlook this week is not much better with a reshuffled offensive line.

Foster only gained 51 yards on 12 carries against the Vikes in 2005.

Wide Receivers: With Steve Smith out nursing a hamstring injury, the Panthers went with Drew Carter as the starter and he turned in five catches for 62 yards while Keyshawn Johnson only managed four grabs for 40 yards. Delhomme barely had time to throw on many occasions. Until Smith is cleared to play, I am not projecting stats for him but will happily update if he does play. After all, Smith exploded against the Vikings last year, recording 11 catches for 201 yards and one score.

Tight Ends: Kris Mangum had three catches for 24 yards last week while Michael Gaines ended with no catches despite having two receptions for 67 yards against Minnesota last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Vikings defense is becoming rock solid and held the Skins running backs to only 61 yards last week. With Foster already struggling, don't expect an uptick in Minnesota and he may actually turn in less than last week.

Delhomme has a problem with his linemen injuries and that will undoubtedly attract the aggressive Vikings defense to blitz and harass him. Without Steve Smith as an outlet, there is no reason to expect much less than what happened last week except in this case the defense is at home and may be a little better. Look for one score here that could come late in the game but anything more is hard to forecast. The Vikes just shut down a better crew in Washington.

Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
1 19-16 @WAS 10 --- GB
2 --- CAR 11 --- @MIA
3 --- CHI 12 --- ARZ
4 --- @BUF 13 --- @CHI
5 --- DET 14 --- @DET
6 Open Bye 15 --- NYJ
7 --- @SEA 16 --- @GB
8 --- NE 17 --- STL
9 --- @SF - MON THU
MIN vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 200,1
RB Chester Taylor 80,1 40 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 40,1 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 30 0
WR Troy Williamson 0 70 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 20 0
PK Ryan Longwell 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: There's nothing flashy about the way the Vikings play these days and the new offense installed by Brad Childress is producing that trademark spreading of the wealth while making the running back a factor in both the run and pass game. But the ball control style coupled with no mistakes or turnovers is working well thanks to a defense that has vastly improved since a year ago. The next game is home against the Bears and will be all-important, but even a short week shouldn't let the Vikes overlook the Panthers on Sunday.

Quarterback: Brad Johnson only completed 16 of 30 passes against the Redskins but he had more than a few passes dropped - some that should have been long-gainers. He still ended with 223 yards and one score with no turnovers and only one sack. If all those dropped passes start to be caught, this offense looks even more formidable.

Brad Johnson only had 162 yards and one score against the Panthers in 2005.

Running Backs: Chester Taylor is supplying the "Westbrook" role in the new offense and he had 88 yards on 31 tough carries in Washington along with three catches for 43 yards and one score. Taylor ran strong against a formidable defensive line and more importantly, he did not share as Mewelde Moore only accounted for two carries for a net one yard loss. Back at home on a faster track, Taylor should only be better, particularly with receptions.

Wide Receivers: Troy Williamson ended with only four catches for 77 yards against the Skins but that wasn't because Johnson wasn't trying to make him a star. Williamson had ten passes thrown to him including a couple that he outright dropped. One would have been a forty yard reception at least. Marcus Robinson scored once on his only catch and Travis Taylor did not score on his only catch. So far, this offense wants to make Williamson into a stud and he's catching fire with his blazing speed. He just needs to hold on to the ball when it gets there.

Marcus Robinson had four catches for 77 yards and one score against the Panthers last year but no other wideout had more than 36 yards.

Tight Ends: While Jermaine Wiggins was nearly forgotten in many fantasy drafts, Johnson saw him plenty on Monday night. Wiggins had five catches for 29 yards and was second only to Williamson in the amount of passing targets (7).

Wiggins had a nice game against Carolina last year, catching ten passes for 68 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers were gashed by the Falcon rushing game and on the carpet in Minnesota, they could be victimized by Taylor if LB Dan Morgan remains out or has lasting effects from his most recent concussion. Look for a nice yardage game here by Taylor who should manage to score once. If he cannot get there running, then he'll up the amount of receptions. The Vikings have timed this meeting well with a Panther team already hit by injuries to their left tackle and star wideout. That could result in more carries if the defense can keep the Panthers behind on the scoreboard.

Johnson is not going to throw for a ton of yards here and the Panthers secondary remains solid. This should play out with moderate passing yardage in a game that will be more about rushing and defense. Expect one touchdown pass but most likely that should end up with Wiggins again. Williamson will attract plenty of attention and the others are not yet stepping up their play.