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

Prediction: NOR 24, CAR 23

Update: As expected, Steve Smith has returned to full practices and will play this week. DeShaun Foster also returned to practice on Thursday and is good to play this week as well. The Saints limited Reggie Bush in practice to rest up his bruised shin but HC Sean Payton said he anticipated Bush being fine to play this week.

This is the second meeting between these teams. The Panthers won 16-13 when they visited the Saints in week five. Since then the Saints went on a four game winning streak before losing in Houston while the Panthers have lost their last four games. This is a coin flip game but the Saints have a slight edge since they are slightly less dysfunctional than the Panthers are without a passing game.

New Orleans Saints (4-6)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @IND 10-41 +6 51.5
2 @TB 14-31 -3.5 41.5
3 TEN 14-31 -4 45
4 BYE - - -
5 CAR 13-16 -4 43
6 @SEA 28-17 +6 43
7 ATL 22-16 -9 43
8 @SF 31-10 -2.5 40
9 JAC 41-24 -3.5 40
10 STL 29-37 -12 46
11 @HOU 10-23 -1 47
12 @CAR   -3 41
13 TB 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 @ATL 10-Dec MON 8:30 PM
15 ARI 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 PHI 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 @CHI 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
NOR at CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     280,2
RB Reggie Bush 50,1 50  
TE Eric Johnson   30  
WR Marques Colston   100,1  
WR Devery Henderson   30  
WR David Patten   40,1  
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: All the strides made in their four game winning spree took a step backwards in Houston but the Saints still have all the pieces - they just have to put them back together again and the receivers stop dropping passes. At 4-6, the Saints are a long shot to make up the two game delta between them and the Buccaneers but a win here and then again against those Buccaneers next week could make it possible. The running game still is a problem and the defense remains too weak in the secondary to expect too much.

Quarterback: While the Saints lost last week, at least Drew Brees had a decent showing with 290 passing yards and one touchdown. His two interceptions were not entirely his fault and they proved costly. But Brees is on a six game streak of throwing at least one score and he had been turning in two or more until last week.

Brees threw for 252 yards and two interceptions in Carolina earlier this season.

Running Backs: Reggie Bush continues to shoulder most the rushing load but comes off a bad showing in Houston when he only gained 34 yards on 15 carries but he did add a season high 12 catches for 70 yards to prop up his fantasy value. Aaron Stecker never had a carry last week but has been helping out with a half dozen carries in most games.

Bush already gained 67 yards on 21 carries and added nine receptions for 52 yards against the Panthers this year.

Wide Receivers: While the rest of the offense may have stumbled last week, not so for Marques Colston who gained 118 yards on nine catches and that makes three straight games over 110 receiving yards. Granted, he did not score in any but had the three touchdown game in San Francisco to help his average. Devery Henderson had the touchdown catch in Houston but it was his only catch in the game and he rarely has more than 37 yards in any game this year. David Patten had a few nice games around mid season but now has gone two weeks with only minimal yardage.

Colston was limited to just four catches for 31 yards against the Panthers but Devery Henderson had 101 yards on his four receptions.

Tight Ends: Eric Johnson comes off his worst game of the year when he only had two catches for 17 yards in Houston. He had been around 30 or so yards in most other games.

Johnson turned five catches into 30 yards versus the Panthers this season.

Match Against the Defense: Here is where the challenge comes into play. The Panthers have been much worse at home than on the road this year. They are 0-4 at home and 4-2 on the road which is opposite most every team. Opponents have managed decent success rushing against them this year and much of Bush's production is going to come via the pass as it did in the first meeting. There is also a decent chance that he or Stecker scores since each of the last five opponents of the Panthers logged at least one rushing score.

Brees had 252 yards in the first meeting and is much better this time around since that was just prior to the team's fortunes turning around. Look for healthy yardage here and a good shot at two scores. One would have to favor Colston and the other should end up with one of the other wideouts., I like Patten slightly more than Henderson or Moore.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 10 12 8 14 32 27
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 13 18 10 18 18 13


Carolina Panthers (4-6)
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 27-20 -4 37.5
4 TB 7-20 -3 39
5 @NO 16-13 +4 43
6 @ARI 25-10 +6 38.5
7 BYE - - -
8 IND 7-31 +6.5 45
9 @TEN 7-20 +4 40
10 ATL 13-20 -4.5 36.5
11 @GB 17-31 +10 37.5
12 NO   +3 41
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 vs NOR Rush Catch Pass
QB Vinny Testaverde     270,2
RB DeShaun Foster 60 10  
TE Jeff King   30  
WR Steve Smith   120,1  
WR Keary Colbert   70,1  
WR Drew Carter   40  
PK John Kasay 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The loss of Jake Delhomme has never been compensated for though David Carr giving way to Vinny Testaverde has been a good move. But the lack of a good passing game has allowed defenses to all but shut down the run game and the only question of note every week is if Steve Smith is going to play and who is throwing to him? In games when Smith has a score, the Panthers are 3-1 and Smith scored three times in that one loss in Houston. But without Smith doing well, the Panthers are just 1-5 and unable to actually win a home game. The key to this offense was Delhomme and Smith. Now it is just Smith and whomever throws the ball.

Quarterback: Vinny Testaverde comes off the best non-Delhomme game of the year with 258 passing yards and two scores against the Packers but he also had two interceptions and one lost fumble and - he did not have Smith who may be back this week. So far, Testaverde has been the only replacement quarterback who can actually connect with Smith.

Carr was the starter against the Saints in the first meeting and only had 119 yards and one score.

Running Backs: DeShaun Foster chugs along at the same rate each week which results in around 60 rushing yards in most games and he has just two rushing scores on the year - just one since Delhomme left. DeAngelo Williams gets his eight touches per week but has done so little this year that no one is calling for him to replace Foster anymore. It is just accepted that the Panthers have a poor rushing game and are unable to find a spark. They only have a total of three rushing scores on the year.

Foster gained 59 yards on 19 carries in New Orleans this season.

Wide Receivers: Steve Smith did not play Sunday because of a shin injury and in his place, Drew Carter turned in a career best 132 yards and one score on five receptions. That was nearly enough alone to beat the Packers though but at least it allowed more playing time for Dwayne Jarrett who also had a three catches for 39 yards. Jarrett has played in the last two games and is finally starting to show up on the field.

As for Smith, he is expected back this week from his shin injury according to trainers who said that he was really, really, really close last week. I will project for Smith to play with only minor limitations but he obviously has a dream match-up here against the Saints that could be big if he is healthy and Testaverde can get him the ball.

Smith only had 47 yards against the Saints this year but scored once. Keary Colbert led receivers in that game with 74 yards on four catches.

Tight Ends: Jeff King's fantasy value has all but disappeared after a promising start to the season - with Delhomme.

Match Against the Defense: There is no question just how bad a passing defense is coming to town, the real question is what Panthers team will be there to greet it. Foster is an autopilot to hit around 60 yards and the Saints held him to exactly that before.

But Testaverde is at home and should have Steve Smith back. The Saints secondary is always ripe for the picking so once again this all depends on how Smith does. With the Panthers searching for their first home game, I like them to put up a good fight here. The Saints are on a three game streak of giving up two scores and around 300 yards. No reason to expect much less on the road in Carolina.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 22 19 17 21 26 29
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 29 8 30 23 24 8

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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