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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: TB 13, ATL 24

The Buccaneers come off a humbling loss to the Ravens last week and now have to hit the road against a Falcons team that throttled the Panthers. Unlike the other two teams that were shutout in week one, Tampa Bay does not come from finishing in the cellar last year - they won the NFC South. There is a slight chance that the Bucs were looking forward to this week when they were ambushed by the Ravens but then again, they don't appear to be ready to play the Falcons either. Atlanta started last year out as the hot team and has that look once again.

The Buccaneers swept the Falcons in 2005 by the narrow margins of 30-27 and 27-24.

Update: Cadillac Williams has been added to the injury report as probable but was held out of practice on Thursday due to back spasms. This was the same problem that limited him last week against the Ravens. He is expected to play but I am lowering his projections since he presents more health risk this week against a very good Falcon defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)
1 0-27 BAL 10 --- @CAR
2 --- @ATL 11 --- WAS
3 --- CAR 12 --- @DAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- @PIT
5 --- @NO 14 --- ATL
6 --- CIN 15 --- @CHI
7 --- PHI 16 --- @CLE
8 --- @NYG 17 --- SEA
9 --- NO - MON THU
TBB at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Simms 10 0 170
RB Cadillac Williams 50,1 20 0
RB Michael Pittman 10 20 0
TE Alex Smith 0 10 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 40 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 60 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 20 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers lost to the Ravens thanks to both staring guards not playing due to injury and Williams suffering from back spasms. Add in Chris Simms amazing ability to have passes batted by defensive linemen and 2006 is not starting out like a return to the top of the division.

Quarterback: Chris Simms only managed to complete 17 of 29 passes for 133 yards and three interceptions. His failing last year - batted passes - continues to be a problem. The biggest sign of problem? Joey Galloway did not have a catch last week. Simms only threw for 118 yards and one interception in Atlanta last year but had 285 yards and two scores when the Falcons came to Tampa Bay in week 16. Simms is playing much more like the earlier version.

Running Backs: Cadillac Williams was bothered by back spasms against the Ravens and sorely missed having an offensive line that could successfully block. He ended with just 22 yards on eight carries with five catches for 25 yards - a bit different than how he started 2005. Williams only had one carry during the second half as the Bucs had to abandon the rushing game but he should improve. Williams ran very well against the Falcons last year (as did most). He had 129 yards and one score in Atlanta and later 160 yards and one score in week 16.

Wide Receivers: As noted, Joey Galloway had three passes but no receptions against the Ravens and Michael Clayton ended with just three catches for 34 yards though that led the team. Clayton had eight passes thrown to him and was the primary target for Simms but the aggressive defense of Baltimore never gave Simms time to get into any rhythm. In a league that has intensive game film review, figure on the Falcons to follow the lead of Baltimore with bringing pressure on Simms and that will be felt with the wideouts yet again.

Galloway had no catches in the game at Atlanta last year but had eight receptions for 97 yards in week 16 when the Falcons were visitors.

Tight Ends: Simms completed six passes to his tight ends last week but four of them went to Anthony Becht for 27 yards and Alex Smith had just two catches for 18 yards. With pressure bearing down on Simms, he resorted to using the backs and tight ends more than last year but still had little success.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons went into the offseason with the express focus on improving a poor rush defense and the results were good last week when they held Foster to only 54 yards on 15 carries after being ripped to shreds by him in 2005. With line injuries to the Panthers and Cadillac still not clear of the back problems that he had early in the preseason, expect only moderate numbers here.

DE John Abraham debuted in a big way for the Falcons but suffered a strained groin which could keep him out this week - that would be a much needed benefit for the Bucs.

Simms is struggling again and he had problems in Atlanta last year. This defense just held Delhomme to only 186 yards and that should prove to be an upper limit to what Simms will accomplish this week. These teams played it close last year and now the Atlanta defense appears improved. Look for moderate production from the receivers against this week.

Atlanta Falcons (1-0)
1 20-6 @CAR 10 --- CLE
2 --- TB 11 --- @BAL
3 --- @NO 12 --- NO
4 --- ARZ 13 --- @WAS
5 Open Bye 14 --- @TB
6 --- NYG 15 --- DAL
7 --- PIT 16 --- CAR
8 --- @CIN 17 --- @PHI
9 --- @DET - MON SAT
ATL vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 40 0 150,2
RB Warrick Dunn 90 10 0
RB Jerious Norwood 50,1 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 40,1 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 20 0
WR Michael Jenkins 0 50,1 0
WR Roddy White 0 30 0
PK Mike Koenen 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Falcons couldn't have asked for a better start to the season - taking down the Panthers in Carolina. Granted - Steve Smith did not play. But the Falcons defense responded well in all facets and the run game remains the strength of this team. Just as impressive was Vick throwing for two scores and not turning the ball over. It's only been one week, but the Falcons have to be pleased with the strides from last year.

Quarterback: Michael Vick only completed 10 of 22 passes for 140 yards but he scored two touchdowns that included a strike to a wide receiver along with the standard Crumpler score. He added six runs for 48 yards as well and looks at least as good as last year even when facing a normally stout Panther defense.

Vick was productive against the Bucs last year, throwing for 161 yards and two scores as a visitor and have 306 yards and two scores back in Atlanta in his best game of the year.

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn yet again trashes conventional wisdom about size and age. He ran for 132 yards on 29 carries and was joined by impressive rookie Jerious Norwood who had 66 yards on just ten runs. While the Falcons failed to record a rushing score last week, the combined 246 rushing yards showed that the offense remains a force on the ground that doesn't miss T.J. Duckett.

Dunn ran for 82 yards on 18 carries against the Buccaneers last year with no touchdowns.

Wide Receivers: Roddy White was held to only one catch for five yards against the Panthers but Michael Jenkins turned in a huge game (for a Falcon WR) when he had three catches for 77 yards and a 34-yard touchdown reception. The squad will never rival the Colts anytime soon though and Ashley Lelie only had one catch in the game. In fantasy terms, it is hard to rely on a wideout here since any decent game will be the result of literally one or two passes.

Roddy White had four catches for 108 yards against the visiting Bucs last year and Michael Jenkins turned in five receptions for 69 yards and one score.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler only had three catches for 27 yards to start the season, but he scored once and his six targets were as many as any other receiver. Crumpler had five catches for 49 yards and a score against the visiting Bucs last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers problems last week were mostly offensive - not defensive. In a game with nothing left to do but run, they still held Jamal Lewis to 78 yards on 18 carries. The Falcons have not ran as well against the Bucs as they did other teams but the addition of Norwood bring a nice change of pace that can still hit a homerun. Look for good yardage here from the crew but for Dunn to stay just below 100 yards and Norwood to gain his first NFL score.

Vick did have success last year against the Bucs and with the confidence spilling over from week one, he should again record two scores with barely moderate yardage. Look for a replay of week one with Ronde Barber keeping better tabs on Roddy White than he did in 2005.