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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: CAR 13, NO 20

The Panthers can still win a wildcard with a win here and losses by both the Giants and Packers but the last five weeks has only seen them go 1-4 and the offense has never managed to score more than 26 points in any game this year. The Saints have already clinched the division and a first round bye as the #2 seed - they have nothing to win or lose here other than this whole "winning" thing is rather new for the Saints this year and evidently rather addicting.

The Panthers won 20-18 in week four when the Saints visited this season.

Update: Jake Delhomme has practiced and is expected to play. Weinke returns to the back-up role and now perhaps Steve Smith has a chance to end the year on a high note. Drew Carter is not expected to play this week with his continuing high ankle sprain.

Carolina Panthers (7-8)
1 6-20 ATL 10 24-10 TB
2 13-16 @MIN 11 15-0 STL
3 26-24 @TB 12 13-17 @WAS
4 21-18 NO 13 24-27 @PHI
5 20-12 CLE 14 13-27 NYG
6 23-21 @BAL 15 3-37 PIT
7 14-17 @CIN 16 10-3 @ATL
8 14-35 DAL 17 --- @NO
9 Open Bye - - MON
CAR at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 260,2
RB DeShaun Foster 40 10 0
RB DeAngelo Williams 30 30 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 20 0
WR Steve Smith 0 90,1 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 30 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
PK John Kasay 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: Sure the Panthers won last week to end their four game losing skid but the offense has lost almost all punch and last week was more an indictment against the Falcons than a credit to the Panthers. Carolina has only managed to score more than 15 points once in the last six games. Steve Smith has disappeared and the Panthers defense hasn't stopped anyone outside of Michael Vick for the last month. The Panthers will already know if the Giants win on Saturday, so this game could have no meaning anyway.

Quarterback: The Panthers win last week came with Chris Weinke throwing for only 32 yards since the rushing game plowed over the hapless Falcons but Weinke only has two scores during his three starts - Brees could have as many by the third series of this game.

Delhomme had 169 passing yards and two scores against the Saints in week four of this season.

Running Backs: Deshaun Foster's season received a greatly needed boost when he turned in 102 rushing yards last week for his first game over 60 yards since week five. Then again, it still required 28 carries to attain while DeAngelo Williams gained 82 yards on 21 carries. Foster only has two scores on the season and yet the Panthers insist on making him the starting tailback each week despite better results each time that Williams gets significant play. That is only one of many mysteries on this team for 2006.

Foster ran for 105 yards on 16 carries and scored once against the Saints this year. DeAngelo Williams gained 62 yards on eight runs.

Wide Receivers: Through week 13, Steve Smith had gained wither 100 yards or scored a touchdown in almost every week. For the last three games - he has fallen off the map. He has not gained more than 67 yards and had no catches last week during the running over of the Falcons and he has not scored. From the moment Weinke stuck his hands under center, Smith has turned into barely worthy of being a WR3 for a fantasy team. Keyshawn Johnson? Even worse.

Steve Smith had 10 catches for 87 yards and one score while Johnson turned in 63 yards on six receptions against the Saints this season. But that was with Delhomme.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: Sadly the Saints weakness against the pass mirrors the weakness of the Panthers under Weinke. No doubt that the Panthers will try to run as much as they can but the numbers will get split and likely be limited when the Panthers fall behind anyway.

Weinke could have some decent yardage here as he did against the Giants thanks to trash time but expecting more than one passing score is being optimistic without any supporting evidence.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 23 21 10 30 21 29
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 25 9 27 19 3 4


New Orleans Saints (10-5)
1 19-14 @CLE 10 31-38 @PIT
2 34-27 @GB 11 16-31 CIN
3 23-3 ATL 12 31-13 @ATL
4 18-21 @CAR 13 34-10 SF
5 24-21 TB 14 42-17 @DAL
6 27-24 PHI 15 10-16 WAS
7 Open Bye 16 30-7 @NYG
8 22-35 BAL 17 --- CAR
9 31-14 @TB - - MON
NOR vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 220,1
RB Reggie Bush 50 60 0
RB Deuce McAllister 70,1 20 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 20 0
WR Terrence Copper 0 30 0
WR Marques Colston 0 60,1 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 20 0
PK John Carney 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The biggest question here is if the Saints rest players - there is nothing left to win this year. The looming bye week means some playing time is needed to keep players sharp but be aware that any could be pulled from the game if HC Sean Payton believes it's time to give back-ups some playing time. This is a home game though and the Saints are enjoying themselves too much to expect a down game here against a weak opponent.

Quarterback: With 26 scores on the season, it is a genuine surprise that Drew Brees only had one score over the last two weeks but the Saints are now rushing extremely well (like the league needed that to happen). Brees will start this week but there is no guarantee he will finish the game - he might not even need to for the Saints to win anyway.

Brees threw for 349 yards and one score in Carolina this year.

Running Backs: Maybe it took 16 weeks, but Reggie Bush now has his first game with 100 rushing yards - 126 on 20 carries to be exact.

McAllister ran for 39 yards and one score on 11 carries while Bush gained just 22 yards on 11 runs in Carolina this season. Bush added 48 yards on four catches. Bush had already been a major force in the passing game and now he's going to run well? Oh yeah, great move by Houston last April. Last week the Saints ran so well that Deuce McAllister had 108 yards on 27 carries as well. That'll give defensive coordinators a migraine now that they have to worry about more than just the most productive passing game in the league.

Wide Receivers: Joe Horn has been out since week 13 and there's no reason to have him play this week so Marques Colston gets another chance to make a bid for rookie of the year. He'll likely lose out to Vince Young but with 1038 yards and eight touchdowns, he has to be considered as a fantasy rookie of the year.

Colston gathered five catches for 132 yards and a score in Carolina this year. Horn had 63 yards on five receptions while Terrance Copper ended with just two grabs for 30 yards.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: This all depends on how motivated the Saints are this week and how early they rest players - if at all. The projection here considers full game efforts from all but that could be greatly impacted by coaching decisions. The Panthers are good against the run and wideouts, but that should let Bush have some fun as a receiver.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 4 3 4 25 6 24
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 19 6 5 32 15 9