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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 27, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
MIA at HOU SF at KC NE at CIN   updated

Prediction: NO 13, CAR 23

The Saints come off perhaps the most hyped Monday Night game in recent memory when they served up a bowl of jambalaya and a plate of ass-whooping to the visiting Falcons to rise to a surprising 3-0 record this year. The Panthers finally righted the ship with a win over the Buccaneers and it is amazing how much Steve Smith seems to matter. This week - the huge emotion of Monday night will leave the road Saints tired enough to finally drop a game to the Panthers who are back on track.

The Panthers lost to the Saints 20-23 in the season opener last year but later won 27-10 in New Orleans during week 15.

Update: Devery Henderson is questionable to play with a hip injury and was held out of practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. I am removing him from the projections though he has not been ruled out of the game yet. Lance Moore would take his place this week if Henderson cannot play.

New Orleans Saints (3-0)
1 19-14 @CLE 10 --- @PIT
2 34-27 @GB 11 --- CIN
3 23-3 ATL 12 --- @ATL
4 --- @CAR 13 --- SF
5 --- TB 14 --- @DAL
6 --- PHI 15 --- WAS
7 Open Bye 16 --- @NYG
8 --- BAL 17 --- CAR
9 --- @TB - - MON
NOR at CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 200,1
RB Reggie Bush 40 40 0
RB Deuce McAllister 50 10 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Joe Horn 0 40 0
WR Lance Moore 0 20 0
WR Marques Colston 0 60,1 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 30 0
PK John Carney 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: There are finally smiles all around the Superdome after a win that most of the country was pulling for last week and the Saints are one of the biggest surprises of the season. Reggie Bush has not made too much of a difference and Drew Brees has been largely average but the defense has made a tremendous turnaround this season. If the Saints are not careful, they are going to lose supporters because that whole underdog persona is quickly being forgotten with win after win.

Quarterback: Drew Brees had a monster game against the Packers in week two (who hasn't?) but last week was more to his typical performance. Brees ended with 191 yards and no score but completed 20 of 28 passes and made no mistakes in the jubilant match-up. So far his role has been largely as a game manager but that'll have to change with a tougher schedule to come.

Running Backs: The Saints are still waiting on their first 100 rushing effort this year but Deuce McAllister had topped 80 yards twice already and has ran surprisingly strong for playing on a rebuilt knee. Reggie Bush had 53 yards on 13 carries against the Falcons and his fortunes seemed tied exclusively if the defense allows him to reach the corner. Bush had eight catches in each of the first two games but only turned in four receptions for 19 yards on Monday night.

Wide Receivers: While Joe Horn is an emotional leader of the offense, he's not been much for production yet this year with only 10 catches for 160 yards and no scores on the season. Marques Colston finally comes off a game without a touchdown but he still turned in seven receptions for 97 yards against the Falcons. Devery Henderson remains in the slot but also has two scores on the year including the double reverse on Monday night. The unit is playing well together but without any real stars other than the surprising Colston.

Tight Ends: For the second time this year, the Saints did not even throw a pass to the tight ends.

Match Against the Defense: The Carolina defense was talked badly about after two losses but the reality is that they've played fairly well and only allowed around four yards per rush that turned into bigger numbers thanks to the first two opponents running for 30 or 40 times a game. Last week they held Carnell Williams to just 48 yards on 19 carries though he scored the only rushing touchdown by a running back allowed this year. Look for the two-headed attack of Bush and McAllister to remain with moderate results though the speed of Bush should do more than the power running of McAllister.

Brees goes against a secondary that should serve up a touchdown but only moderate yardage here. As hard is it is to believe, Colston is clearly the most likely to score again this week because of his height advantage. The Panthers have allowed two tight ends and the tall Jenkins to score so far this year.

Carolina Panthers (1-2)
1 6-20 ATL 10 --- TB
2 13-16 @MIN 11 --- STL
3 26-24 @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 vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 260,2
RB DeShaun Foster 40 10 0
RB DeAngelo Williams 20 20 0
TE Michael Gaines 0 10 0
WR Steve Smith 0 100,1 0
WR Drew Carter 0 30 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 70,1 0
PK John Kasay 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Panthers finally notch a sorely needed win by taking down the Buccaneers last week in a game that went down to the final two seconds before Kasay kicked his fourth 45+ yard field goal. The return of Steve Smith sparked a refreshing rejuvenation of the offense that finally resembled 2005. Back at home the Panthers have another tall order this week - the 3-0 Saints that are marching over everyone so far.

Quarterback: After two games with just 180 yards and no scores, Jake Delhomme rekindled his chemistry with Steve Smith last week and turned in 272 yards and one score in Tampa Bay. His QB rating rose up to 93.8 and all looks good again in Carolina only this year - Keyshawn Johnson is giving Jake a legitimate #2 wideout to use.

Delhomme played twice against the Saints last year and had games of 212 and 176 yards with one touchdown in each.

Running Backs: DeShaun Foster comes off his best game of the year when he ran 20 times for 82 yards against the Bucs but he still has yet to score a touchdown unlike DeAngelo Williams who ran for 74 yards in week two and then was only called on four times last week with a net one yard loss. Until Foster gets injured, Williams will continue to show up in some games and disappear in others.

Foster only had games of 41 and 75 yards against the Saints in 2005 and never scored.

Wide Receivers: What a difference a little Steve Smith makes. Actually a lot of Smith goes a very long way. Smith came back from hamstring injury and though he was considered limited and likely more of a decoy in his first game back, he led all Panthers with seven catches for 112 yards. Keyshawn Johnson did not lose any ground when Smith showed up either, recording seven catches as well for 97 yards and adding a four-yard end around for another score just to tweak Gruden yet again. With those two wideouts in the game, the rest had almost no role and in reality - they didn't need one.

Steve Smith was the lone offensive star in both match-ups with the Saints, scoring in each game and averaging around 100 yards.

Tight Ends: No action before Smith returned and just one catch when he was in the lineup.

Match Against the Defense: This matchup is a difficult one to assess. The Saints are going to be primed for an emotional letdown after the huge win over the Falcons and a short week with which to prepare. But this rushing defense has yet to allow a score or any opposing runner to gain more than 44 yards including the Falcons and their #1 rushing offense. Foster has never had much success against the Saints even in their dark days, don't expect much more than a moderate game here. Williams could always come in a bust a long one but that's unreliable so far.

Delhomme goes against a secondary that is the weakness that Vick was unable to exploit - but Favre had 340 yards and three scores against them. Look for a couple of touchdowns here by Delhomme and some decent yardage as well since the rushing game won't likely work. That favors both Keyshawn and Smith and no one else.