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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night

Prediction: CAR 24, ATL 13

This was an interesting game in seasons past but this year we cannot be sure which Panthers team will show up. Fortunately for them, we can be sure what Falcons team will host this game. These inter-divisional rivals traded road wins in 2006 with the Falcons winning 20-6 in Carolina during the season opener and later the Panthers winning in Atlanta 10-3 in week 16.

Carolina Panthers (1-1)
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @STL 27-13 -1 42
2 HOU 21-34 -6.5 39
3 @ATL 23-Sep -4 36
4 TB 30-Sep SUN 4:05 PM
5 @NO 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 @ARI 14-Oct SUN 4:05 PM
7 BYE - - -
8 IND 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 @TEN 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 ATL 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @GB 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 NO 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 SF 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 @JAC 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 SEA 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 DAL 22-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
17 @TB 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
CAR at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     240,2
RB DeShaun Foster 80,1 10  
RB DeAngelo Williams 50 10  
TE Jeff King   30,1  
WR Steve Smith   100,1  
WR Keary Colbert   20  
WR Drew Carter   60  
PK John Kasay 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Panthers served notice in the season opener that their defense was back and that the offense had bought into the new system. By the time the game last Sunday was over, it looked eerily similar to the Panthers of 2006. Playing in Atlanta this week should be just the thing to tip the scales back towards "The Cats are back!". With a rather soft schedule leading up to the week seven bye, the Panthers could easily take a break with a 5-1 record and yet not have played any team with a winning record or really have proven anything.

Quarterback: While the Panthers have both excelled and struggled in the course of only two games, there's no mistaking the fantasy value of Jake Delhomme so far this year. He's thrown for three scores in both games so far, averaged 250 yards per game and only had one interception. Granted that almost entirely has gone to Steve Smith but regardless, Delhomme's stock has been rising so far this year and David Carr can just get comfortable with that clipboard.

Delhomme threw for 186 yards and no scores against the Falcons last year but did not play in the second meeting due to injury.

Running Backs: In week one against the Rams, the duo of DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams posted 156 rushing yards and everything appeared to exceed expectations. Then last week - at home against the Texans no less - DeShaun Foster only managed to gain 22 yards on nine carries while Williams posted 31 yards on eight runs. Whether this unit can be consistent this year remains to be seen, but it should look good this week.

Foster only gained 54 yards on 15 carries at home against the Falcons but later had 102 yards on 28 runs with no scores in either game. Williams tacked on 82 yards on 21 carries in that second meeting in Atlanta.

Wide Receivers: Not too hard to describe the Panthers wideouts last week. There's Drew Carter (3-50) who wasn't good enough to lock down the #2 spot. There is Keary Colbert (3-25) who dropped three passes last week. There is the rookie Dwayne Jarrett who is not good enough yet to activate. And then there is Steve Smith (8-153, 3 TDs). After two weeks, Smith already had four touchdowns (tied with Plaxico Burress for #1) and 271 receiving yards. It is the perfect fantasy football situation - only one wideout here has any fantasy value and yet he arguably has as much as any wideout in the league. The Panthers need to extend more work to the other wideouts but so far there hasn't been any drop-off by Smith despite being heavily covered every play.

Smith only played in the second game against the Falcons and never had a catch.

Tight Ends: As a part of no suitable #2 wideout emerging, the Panthers have taken to involving Jeff King more this year and he had been catching about four or five passes a week for around 35 yards. Nothing major but so far consistent.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons had a nice defensive showing against the Vikings, sort of, in week one and then was better in week two against the Jaguars but the reality is that they have only faced David Garrard and Tarvaris Jackson so far. No one has scored a rushing touchdown against the so far and the Falcons have been on the road the first two weeks. With the Panthers running game inconsistent at best, expect decent numbers to be split between Williams and Foster this week and a good chance for one touchdown if only because there should be a high number of carries in this game.

Delhomme will be the one to win this game and while the Falcons will want to get DeAngelo Hall on Steve Smith, the Panthers will just move Smith around if that match-up happens too often. The Panthers are very one-dimensional in passing but it is a really great dimension to have. More important than anything else is that the Falcons cannot score points yet and that will play into lower scoring game here. Expect Smith to get his of course and for one other receiver to catch a touchdown. Anything more than that just won't be needed. The Panthers may be starting a rookie cornerback this week who would typically cover Smith but they won't allow him to be alone by any means.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 5 24 3 20 22 31
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 13 20 8 13 12 31


Atlanta Falcons (0-2)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @MIN 3-24 +3 36
2 @JAC 7-13 +11 34.5
3 CAR 23-Sep +4 36
4 HOU 30-Sep SUN 1:00 PM
5 @TEN 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 NYG 15-Oct MON 8:30 PM
7 @NO 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 BYE - - -
9 SF 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 @CAR 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 TB 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 IND 22-Nov THU 8:15 PM
13 @STL 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 NO 10-Dec MON 8:30 PM
15 @TB 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @ARI 23-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
17 SEA 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
ATL vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington     200
RB Warrick Dunn 60,1 10  
RB Jerious Norwood 40 10  
TE Alge Crumpler   50  
WR Joe Horn   30  
WR Michael Jenkins   20  
WR Roddy White   60  
PK Morten Andersen 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: It just doesn't get any better for the Falcons yet. After a brutal two game road trek to open the season, they finally return home for their opener and the Panthers are bringing yet another good defense against a team that has only scored one touchdown this year. HC Bobby Petrino is already talking publicly about Joey Harrington being a problem and when the top guy throws the quarterback under the bus, you know things are not going to turn around quickly. The Falcons appear set on getting a rather high draft pick next April. Kicker Matt Prater has been dumped after going just 1 of 4 and the venerable if not ageless Morten Andersen has been signed.

Quarterback: Joey Harrington has back to back 200 yard passing games now but he still doesn't have an actual passing score. The Falcons are evidently working on bringing in Byron Leftwich who had said he would not go to a team that would not afford him the chance to be the starter. Welcome to Atlanta, Byron. Harrington remains the starter here but his leash is growing shorter.

Running Backs: The Falcons continue to use Warrick Dunn as the primary back despite his lackluster results though he did score once last week which automatically makes him the lead scorer for the team. Dunn himself says he still is not 100% healthy from his back injury during the summer but Jerious Norwood gets only limited playing time. Norwood did step up from five to nine carries last week and even Dunn only had 13 then but the team is just more comfortable with Dunn due to his blocking ability and overall knowledge of the game.

Dunn ran for 132 yards on 29 carries in the season opener against the Panthers last year but later only managed 29 yards on nine carries. Norwood gained 66 yards on ten carries in that first meeting but only had five carries for 20 yards in the second.

Wide Receivers: The only Falcon wideout with any appreciable yardage is Roddy White who turned in 81 yards on four catches last week. No other wideout here has managed more than 32 yards in any game and of course none have scored. Harrington cannot get the ball to them, pure and simple. Joe Horn has had no impact at all with only three catches for 48 yards on the season.

No Falcon wideout had more than 40 yards against the Panthers last season other than Michael Jenkins who turned in a big 77 yard game with one score in the season opener.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler continues his role as a pseudo-wideout overall though that has only been around 40 or 50 yards in the each of the first two games. Last week he was down to a low of only three passes thrown to him though and it could be a sign that the team is moving towards deeper throws (albeit unsuccessfully). A change in quarterback probably will not help Crumpler but it wouldn't really hurt him that much.

Crumpler only had around 30 yards in each of the two meetings with the Panthers in 2006 but he scored in the first game.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers are inconsistent so far but going against a well-known and under-performing team like the Falcons should have more predictable results. Expect more moderate gains by Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood with a chance for one touchdown.

Harrington is on a hot seat but goes against two of the better corners in the league and the only wideouts with any success against them so far this year is Torry Holt and Andre Johnson who certainly have not equivalents on this team. Look for this week to be yet another reason why Leftwich is so attractive to the Falcons.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 29 22 27 11 31 30
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 15 11 18 16 22 24

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