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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 11, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
HOU at DAL TEN at WAS     updated

Prediction: CAR 10, BAL 16

The Panthers finally creep above the .500 mark for the first time this season with a win over the Browns while the Ravens return from their first loss of the year when they played in Denver last Monday. The Ravens are still a half game ahead of the Bengals in the AFC North but the Panthers trail both the Saints and Falcons in the NFC West. The Panthers are looking much better but the Ravens haven't allowed more than 14 points to any opponent.

Update: No projection changes but once again Todd Heap is listed as questionable with his ankle sprain and has been held out of practice but he is still expected to play. DeAngelo William's ankle sprain is expected to keep him out at least this week.

Carolina Panthers (3-2)
1 6-20 ATL 10 --- TB
2 13-16 @MIN 11 --- STL
3 26-24 @TB 12 --- @WAS
4 21-18 NO 13 --- @PHI
5 20-12 CLE 14 --- NYG
6 --- @BAL 15 --- PIT
7 --- @CIN 16 --- @ATL
8 --- DAL 17 --- @NO
9 Open Bye - - MON
CAR at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 190,1
RB DeShaun Foster 60 10 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 10 0
WR Steve Smith 0 90,1 0
WR Drew Carter 0 20 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
PK John Kasay 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Panthers now have three straight wins but none of them have been particularly impressive and could have been losses to the Saints and Buccaneers with just one play going wrong. The running game has gotten back on track recently but an injury to DeAngelo Williams may shortcut those gains. The passing game has yet to really show up and this week won't likely change that.

Quarterback: The difference in the last three games - all wins - is that Jake Delhomme has thrown at least one score in each and had no touchdowns in the first two losses. That does come from the return of Steve Smith, but also from going through two home games against the Saints and Browns and one road game in Tampa Bay. Only once has Delhomme had more than 190 passing yards in a game.

Running Backs: DeShaun Foster comes off two big 100+ efforts the last two weeks and he even scored against the Saints in week four. But both of those games were at home and on the road this year, Foster has not done more than 82 yards. DeAngelo Williams sprained his ankle last week after only one carry and could miss this week - updates as warranted. Without Williams to spell him, Foster becomes the heavy-use back again this week but the Ravens in Baltimore will prove tougher than the Browns visiting Carolina.

Wide Receivers: With three games under his belt this year, Steve Smith has actually gotten worse each week after opening with a 112 yard game against the Buccaneers. He had 87 yards against the Saints and only 62 yards facing the Browns. It isn't really a question of needing him less, he had at least 12 passes thrown to him in each game. Keyshawn Johnson has been the more solid receiver so far in the winning streak, scoring twice and remaining above 63 yards in each game. Johnson provides a very solid complement to Smith but any big game here will definitely happen for Smith and not Keyshawn. Delhomme is trying to connect with Smith as much has he ever has.

Tight Ends: After four games of almost zero production, Kris Mangum showed up for five catches last week but still only had 21 yards. Against a tough defense this week, no doubt he returns to blocking.

Match Against the Defense: Foster has had a nice three game stretch but on the road in Baltimore likely won't be very kind. No opposing runner has scored against the Ravens this year and that won't start this week. Look for only moderate yardage here from Foster that has a better chance of turning bad than good.

Delhomme faces a secondary that has only allowed three passing scores on the year and so far the two visitors have remained safely under 200 yards passing. Smith remains a decent play this week if only from his volume of passes and Keyshawn will be needed to take up the slack from a failing running attack. Look for one touchdown here for Smith but the rest won't have much yardage.

Baltimore Ravens (4-1)
1 27-0 @TB 10 --- @TEN
2 28-6 OAK 11 --- ATL
3 15-14 @CLE 12 --- PIT
4 16-13 SD 13 --- @CIN
5 3-13 @DEN 14 --- @KC
6 --- CAR 15 --- CLE
7 Open Bye 16 --- @PIT
8 --- @NO 17 --- BUF
9 --- CIN - THU MON
BAL vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 1 0 160,1
RB Jamal Lewis 70 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 50,1 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 50 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 40 0
WR Demetrius Williams 0 10 0
PK Matt Stover 3 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Ravens come off their first loss of the year when they played in rain-drenched Denver last Monday, but the defense was just as good as it has been - the offense just failed to make any difference. With a running game that continues to struggle and a passing game that never exceeds mediocre, the defense has to come up big to preserve the win. Back at home, even on a short week, it will once again be the difference maker.

Quarterback: After scoring in each of his first four games, Steve McNair could not move the Ravens last week and had only 165 yards and three interceptions. Worse than that was his 8.3 yards per completion. McNair doesn't throw the long ball much in this offense and with five interceptions in the last two games, his attempts to throw more are falling short. McNair only has one game over 185 passing yards as a Raven.

Running Backs: Just like last year, the Ravens stick to running Jamal Lewis for no apparent reason. He only managed 43 yards on 15 carries against Denver and that was up from just 34 yards on 15 carries against the Chargers. Going against a top defense spells disaster here and even facing the soft Raiders who visited in week two only resulted in 70 yards on 19 carries.

Musa Smith has been more effective though realistically he never gets more than two or three carries per game. His six catches for 53 yards last week was a surprise since that was roughly the same he had in the four previous games combined.

The Ravens gave Mike Anderson five runs against his ex-employer and he had 31 yards but that was likely more a gift to him than it was a change in rotation.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason is still waiting for his first touchdown on the season and other than a big 132 yard game against the Browns, he's been stuck at around 40 or 50 yards in every game. Mark Clayton is at that same level as well, only without the one big game on the year. McNair just has not used the wideouts much or particularly well this year. Problem too is that his five interceptions the last two weeks came when he was trying to connect on longer passes.

Tight Ends: McNair still prefers to throw to Todd Heap over any other player and while that had a season low 21 yards last week, he had scored in each of the three previous games. There has only been five passing scores thrown by McNair and three went to Heap.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers rush defense has been softer this year but the Ravens have yet to show that they can take advantage of it. Look for just another moderate, low yardage game here from Lewis.

McNair faces a good secondary that will undoubtedly shrink his field to mainly Heap. The Panthers have only given up four passing scores on the year so more than one here is unrealistic. This will be a defensive game that will limit both teams. The defenses will decide this via turnovers and while that favors the Ravens, it doesn't mean the passing game here amounts to much this week.