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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 27, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
ATL at PHI DET at DAL NE at TEN STL at MIN Sunday Nite
BUF at BAL OAK at NYJ updated GB at CHI

Prediction: ARZ 13, SD 24

The Cardinals won their second road game of the year when they swept the 49ers last week and at 5-10, maybe Denny Green has saved his job. The Chargers are in the catbird seat at 13-2 and the only way they can lose the #1 seed is if they lose or tie here and the Ravens lose to the visiting Bills. By the time this game is played, the Chargers will already know if Baltimore won. But barring a Buffalo upset, the Chargers still need to win this week and will have a week to rest regardless so there is incentive to play well and win here.

Arizona Cardinals (5-10)
1 34-27 SF 10 10-27 DAL
2 10-21 @SEA 11 17-10 DET
3 14-16 STL 12 26-31 @MIN
4 10-32 @ATL 13 34-20 @STL
5 20-23 KC 14 27-21 SEA
6 23-24 CHI 15 20-37 DEN
7 9-22 @OAK 16 26-20 @SF
8 14-31 @GB 17 --- @SD
9 Open Bye - - MON
ARZ at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner 0 0 220,1
RB Edgerrin James 70 10 0
TE Leonard Pope 0 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 70 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 70 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 50,1 0
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Cardinals season is ending on a higher note, going 4-2 over the final six weeks and witnessing an actual rushing game to support the passing. Matt Leinart got knocked out last week with a shoulder injury so the Cardinals end as they began - with Warner at the helm and Denny Green looking a bit uncomfortable.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner is back for the final week but it's likely his final start for the Cardinals. Matt Leinart has looked solid as a rookie and next year should spark even more optimism. The offensive system is starting to work in all facets even if that means the wonderfully inflated numbers for Boldin and Fitzgerald may not return.

Running Backs: Edgerrin James already has 1093 rushing yards on the season with five scores which is roughly the equivalent of a 2000 yard season on most teams. He's been particularly effective for the last six weeks and has run for over 100 yards in three of the last four games with two scores in those efforts. It may only be average numbers for most teams but this is Arizona and it takes paying the big bucks to a top back to produce those stats.

Wide Receivers: Last year, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were both top ten fantasy wideouts but the injury to Fitzgerald and the success of the rushing game have sent both players down about ten notches in fantasy rankings. Both are solid to be sure but neither is playing nearly as well as they did in 2005. Fitzgerald only has one game over 100 yards and Boldin did such only three times this season. Truly solid but no longer spectacular.

Tight Ends: Drafting Leonard Pope may pay some dividends down the road but the rookie did nothing more than any other Cardinals tight end did in recent seasons. He ends his first year with no scores and usually only one catch per game.

Match Against the Defense: James has been solid in relative terms but he only has five scores on the season and the Chargers have only allowed three touchdowns to opposing runners in San Diego this year. Expect decent yardage here but no score.

Warner faces a secondary that has been very good in San Diego where opponents only average one passing score and only Marc Bulger was able to throw for more than 240 yards. The Chargers are terrible against tight ends but the Cardinals never use Pope near the end zone. There should be at least one passing score that has to favor the bigger Fitzgerald but most yards likely all come in trash time.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARZ 14 28 3 32 8 6
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 10 10 7 31 11 1


San Diego Chargers (13-2)
1 27-0 @OAK 10 49-41 @CIN
2 40-7 TEN 11 35-27 @DEN
3 Open Bye 12 21-14 OAK
4 13-16 @BAL 13 24-21 @BUF
5 23-13 PIT 14 48-20 DEN
6 48-19 @SF 15 20-9 KC
7 27-30 @KC 16 20-17 @SEA
8 38-24 STL 17 --- ARZ
9 32-25 CLE - - MON
SDC vs ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 0 0 220,1
RB L. Tomlinson 120,2 10 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 60 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 20 0
WR Eric Parker 0 40 0
WR Vincent Jackson 0 70,1 0
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chargers survived a scare in Seattle when Philip Rivers temporarily forgot how to pass but a late game push took their 13th win and all that has to happen here is for the Chargers to win. That'll mean the road to the Super Bowl for the AFC goes through San Diego and most likely stops for anyone visiting. Ending the season with the best running back and tight end in the league. the Chargers defense is doing their share to keep the team in the win column as well. This is definitely the team to beat for the playoffs - regardless of conference.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers winds up a successful first season as a starter though last week was less than impressive. Rivers has been turning in lower numbers for most of the second half of the season because the rushing game has been nothing short of spectacular. Over the last four home games, Rivers has scored in only one while the rushing game has been more than enough to take the win.

Running Backs: It's pretty telling when LaDainian Tomlinson comes off a "bad" game because all he had was 123 yards on 22 carries. But he did not score - gasp! - and is stuck with only 31 touchdowns on the season (plus two passing scores). Tomlinson has scored at least twice in each of the last five home games and those totaled 13 scores in that time. He has not dropped below 100 rushing yards in those games as well. This is the final chance to Tomlinson to throw even more distance on his record.

Wide Receivers: Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker have been without any fantasy value this year and neither player managed even one score. But second-year player Vincent Jackson has to be considered a breakthrough with five touchdowns on the season and two just last week. He is clearly the future for the Chargers and a player you need to remember next summer.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates ends his year as the top fantasy tight end yet again and his eight scores are tops but most of those came in the last month. Gates only had one game over 100 yards but had seven over 60 yards in the final ten weeks.

Match Against the Defense: Unless they want to preserve Tomlinson's health this week, he should manage at least one if not two scores here. The Cardinals rush defense on the road has allowed nine scores to opposing runners and now they face the best of the best. Look for a big game here that could end up with Turner getting the work if the game is in hand.

Rivers needs some work here as a tune up but it does depend on the rushing game as always. Safest bet is that he throws for one score and just moderate yardage. That has to favor a wideout which so far has been exclusively Jackson.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 20 1 24 1 2 5
Preventing Fantasy Points ARZ 23 23 30 12 30 26