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

Prediction: TB 16, ATL 17

Update: This game just gets messier. Ike Hilliard is back to practice and will play but Michael Clayton remains questionable because of his sprained ankle and has been limited in practice. I am lowering his numbers and he may not play. Earnest Graham has been limited in practice because os his sprained ankle as well and will be questionable this week as well. I am slightly lowering his numbers but check on the inactives report if you intend on using him. Barring any setbacks, Graham should play this week. Alex Smith has also been limited in practice with his sprained ankle but should be available on Sunday. The more limited the Buccaneers receivers are, the less effective that Galloway can be. He already will be pitted against DeAngelo Hall on at least most of the plays.

The Falcons are playing "guess the quarterback" this week and will intentionally not name the starter until "the last moment" so do not rely on either being the starter in a game that likely will not have a lot of passing anyway. Jerious Norwood is back at practice and is almost back to full speed. He should play though Dunn will have the lion's share of work.

Joe Horn has not practiced because of his hamstring and is likely to miss this week. I am removing him from the projections.

The Falcons are on a big two game winning streak now and host the 5-4 Buccaneers who incredibly lead the NFC South but only two games above the Falcons and one game over the Panthers. If Atlanta wins here, they draw to within one game of the lead with a second meeting in week 15. Let the AFC beat each other up, the NFC playoffs don't necessarily mean you had a winning record.

The Buccaneers won both snooze-fest between these teams in 2006. In week two it was 14-3 and in week 14 in was only 17-6.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SEA 6-20 +6 41
2 NO 31-14 +3.5 41.5
3 STL 24-3 -4 38.5
4 @CAR 20-7 +3 39
5 @IND 14-33 +9 45
6 TEN 13-10 -2.5 37
7 @DET 16-23 +1.5 43
8 JAC 24-23 +4 32.5
9 ARI 17-10 -3.5 37
10 BYE - - -
11 @ATL   -3 35
12 WAS 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 @NO 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 @HOU 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 ATL 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @SF 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 CAR 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
TBB at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia     200,1
RB Earnest Graham 60 20  
TE Alex Smith   20,1  
WR Joey Galloway   70  
WR Ike Hilliard   60  
WR Michael Clayton   20  
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The problem this week is that the Buccaneers are only 1-3 on the road and their lone win was over the Panthers who lose to everyone in Carolina including these Falcons. The Tampa Bay offense is hardly setting the scoreboard on fire this year but the defense has been good enough to keep them in most games. This week on the road will be a bigger test because the defense plays much better at home than away.

Quarterback: After passing for a score in just one of his first four games, Jeff Garcia has settled down to a rather solid fantasy quarterback that won't help win many games but then again almost never really hurts a fantasy team. He has thrown a score in each of the last five games and has only thrown an interception in one game this year. It is usually only around 200 yards and one score, but at least he is being consistent with the single touchdown and three times this year had two scores in a game.

Running Backs: Earnest Graham has been at least as good as Carnell Williams and the stats could argue even better. He comes off a big 124 yard rushing effort against the visiting Cardinals and he rolled up 191 total yards against the Lions in Detroit. But he has only scored twice since becoming the starter in week five and should see Michael Bennett return this week from his high ankle sprain. That should dig into Graham's numbers at least a bit from here on out. As a free agent, Graham has been a nice surprise though he's hardly a difference maker for any team and will have to share a bit more now that Pittman is slated to return.

Wide Receivers: Joey Galloway has been much improved during the last four games with touchdowns in three of them. That gives him a total of five scores on the season but one notable aspect to that - they all came in home games. On the road he has yet to score a touchdown and his yardage tells the same tale. He has four games with over 83 receiving yards and they all came in Tampa Bay. At home, he has averaged 95 yards per game. On the road - just 44 yards and never a score.

This plays into Ike Hilliard who has his best two efforts of the year come on the road as well as his only touchdown. Away from Tampa Bay, defenses take away Galloway and give back Hilliard.

Michael Clayton is expected to be back this week after missing the last three weeks with a sprained ankle.

In week two of last year, Chris Simms was the quarterback and in Atlanta, Galloway had nine catches for 161 yards. Later at home with Gradkowski, he only caught five passes for 64 yards.

Tight Ends: Minimal fantasy value here and only one game with a touchdown for the position this season. Alex Smith usually has one or two catches per week though Jerramy Stevens showed up in week eight with a positional high of 45 yards in the Jaguars game.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons rush defense has been good enough to limit most opposing runners to only average numbers so expect Graham to not score this week and end with only moderate rushing yards.

Garcia has turned in bigger games on the road and yet he doesn't play well in domes. Look for just one passing score this week that will of course favor Smith the most and just moderate passing yardage. DeAngelo Hall will cover Hilliard unless they switch players around which is entirely possible. Galloway just does much less in road games.

Gaining Fantasy Points TB 18 10 16 28 22 30
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 8 24 6 12 16 23


Atlanta Falcons (3-6)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @MIN 3-24 +3 36
2 @JAC 7-13 +11 34.5
3 CAR 20-27 +4 37.5
4 HOU 26-16 +2.5 39.5
5 @TEN 13-20 +8 41
6 NYG 10-31 +4.5 43
7 @NO 16-22 +9 43
8 BYE - - -
9 SF 20-16 -3 37
10 @CAR 20-13 +4.5 36.5
11 TB   +3 35
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 TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington     140
RB Warrick Dunn 80,1 20  
RB Jerious Norwood 20,1 10  
TE Alge Crumpler   30  
WR Joe Horn 20
WR Michael Jenkins   20  
WR Roddy White   40  
PK Morten Andersen 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Two game winning streak and the Falcons cannot be stopped. At least not until week 12 against the Colts and maybe as early as this week. But after a 1-6 start, the Falcons are suddenly looking at a chance to draw within one game of these Buccaneers for the NFC South and the chance to get creamed in round one of the playoffs. As unlikely as it seems, this game is probably the best bet for the Falcons to get a win for the rest of the year.

Quarterback: The Falcons have not named the starting quarterback yet this week which is a rather scathing indictment against Joey Harrington who won the last two games. But Byron Leftwich has a stronger arm and HC Bobby Petrino thinks he opens the offense up to more downfield plays. I will assume that Harrington plays and update if Leftwich practices and appears likely to start.

Running Backs: The Falcons were without Jerious Norwood last week because of his sprained ankle but he is expected back for this game. Warrick Dunn ran for 89 yards and a score in Carolina and had 100 rushing yards and a score the previous week against the 49ers. Surprising too is that Dunn was thrown three passes that allowed him to gain an additional 51 receiving yards in a role that he has never been used for in Atlanta and yet excelled when he played for Tampa Bay.

Dunn ran for 134 yards on 21 carries when the Bucs came to Atlanta last year but then only had 45 yards on 11 carries in the away game. Norwood just turned in his standard 30 or so yards in each game.

Wide Receivers: Not only did Joe Horn end up inactive because of a hamstring strain he suffered in practice on Friday, no one really noticed because Horn has been horrible every week in Atlanta anyway. Horn says he expects to be back this week and you won't notice that either. The only fantasy value here continues to be Roddy White who has remained above 55 yards every week and has two efforts over 100 yards. The Falcons rarely score with any receivers and White is tied for the lead with just two touchdowns.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler's first game back since missing two weeks injured and he scored against the the Panthers and had two catches for 39 yards. He only has one other touchdown this year - again against the Panthers in week three. He has been largely out of the game plan since week five though his knee sprain had some to do with the lack of production.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers have been much softer against the run this year and especially on the road. This is where the Falcons will attack them and Warrick Dunn should end up with good yardage and a chance for a score. It may have been six years since he played for them but he did leave the team when Gruden came in. I like the chance for a second touchdown rushed too which could go to either Dunn or Norwood.

Harrington faces the best secondary in the NFL and #1 against quarterbacks. Look for marginal yardage here with not enough to warrant starting Roddy White in any big league.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 28 24 21 19 15 22
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 1 27 3 2 8 3

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night

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