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

Prediction: ATL 13, STL 20

Update: Marc Bulger has already been ruled out due to the concussion he suffered last week. Gus Frerotte will take the start.

Here's a match-up between two teams that could use a win. The Falcons are only 1-4 on the road and the Rams are still 0-5 at home. The Rams are banged up again but the Falcons have never been that good even when healthy. More than anything, this may be the final chance for either team to log a win in 2007.

Atlanta Falcons (3-7)
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 7-31 +3 35
12 IND 13-31 +12 45
13 @STL   +4.5 42
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 at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington     190,1
RB Warrick Dunn 60 10  
RB Jerious Norwood 20 30  
TE Alge Crumpler   20  
WR Joe Horn   20  
WR Michael Jenkins   40  
WR Roddy White   60,1  
PK Morten Andersen 2 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: After two wins over the Panthers and 49ers, it was back to the losing business against the Buccaneers and Colts and in both games they gave up 31 points. The offense is as sluggish as ever with Harrington the begrudging choice for starter by HC Bobby Petrino who has followed the lead of past Falcon teams by always relying on the less effective Warrick Dunn in preference over Jerious Norwood. Outside of Roddy White emerging, there's been little positive progress made this year. The future starting quarterback has never been more uncertain and the running back slot apparently will always defy rationale.

Quarterback: Joey Harrington remains the starter but there's hardly anything written in cement because Petrino would like nothing more than to opt for Byron Leftwich if only he didn't flop each time he hit the field. There is no other way to really put it though Leftwich has been hampered by his ankle injury. Since week four, Harrington has never had more than 192 yards in a game or scored more than once. And that alone is far better than Leftwich.

Leftwich has improved enough that he should serve as the #2 quarterback this week. That means if Harrington struggles badly, Leftwich will get the call again until he too struggles badly.

Running Backs: Same song, verse 12. Warrick Dunn ran for 70 yards on 17 carries against the Colts while, once again, Jerious Norwood was capped at six carries but gained 33 yards. The worst part about this is that not only is relying on the aging Dunn anti-productive to the offense, but not using Norwood more than exactly six times each week says he is not in their future plans either because at 3-7 the team is not saving anyone for the playoffs.

And just when it appeared that the Falcons might be relying on Dunn more as a receiver, he only had two catches for 10 yards on Thanksgiving. It is not only "not happening" here, by all appearances they do not want it "to happen." The Falcons must have their eye on some crazy good rookie runner next year. Nothing else explains this.

Further complicating matters is that the Falcons want to explore using Jason Snelling as a short yardage back. Fortunately the Falcons never end up near the goal line so he cannot steal much from Dunn or Norwood.

Wide Receivers: As usual, Roddy White has been the only decent Falcons receiver and the only one with a shred of fantasy value. He comes off a solid six catch, 104 yards game against the Colts with the lone Falcons score and his three efforts over receiving 100 yards this season are the only ones the team has produced.

Joe Horn should return this week to donate his 25 yards on two catches in return for a paycheck you would love to get. Michael Jenkins? Laurent Robinson? Just a wasteland for fantasy points beyond White.

Tight Ends: Speaking of overpaid, Alge Crumpler had three catches for 14 yards last week and only has two scores on the season. I wish I worked for Arthur Blank.

Match Against the Defense: The Rams are playing better now and at home they have been much better against the run anyway. No visiting runner has topped 100 yards there and only two have scored this year. Expect just the normal moderate numbers here from Dunn and Norwood.

Harrington faces a secondary that has been soft this year but the Falcons are not passing that well beyond Roddy White. Figure the passing game here to produce around 200 yards and one score that should end up with White or Jenkins. The Falcons on the road have been hard pressed to score anyway and the Rams are good enough to continue to poor showing by the Falcons offense.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 29 25 21 24 23 28
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 19 20 21 14 25 29


St. Louis Rams (2-9)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 13-27 +1 42
2 SF 16-17 -3 44
3 @TB 3-24 +4 38.5
4 @DAL 7-35 +13 47
5 ARI 31-34 +3 40.5
6 @BAL 3-22 +9 36.5
7 @SEA 6-33 +9 40
8 CLE 20-27 +3 43.5
9 BYE - - -
10 @NO 37-29 +12 46
11 @SF 13-9 -2.5 41
12 SEA 19-24 +3 44.5
13 ATL   -4.5 42
14 @CIN 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 GB 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 PIT 20-Dec THU 8:15 PM
17 @ARI 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
STL vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 220,1
QB Gus Frerotte     210,1
RB Steven Jackson 90,1 20  
TE Randy McMichael   40,1  
WR Torry Holt   60  
WR Isaac Bruce   40  
WR Drew Bennett   40  
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Rams two game winning streak came to an end but not before they gave the Seahawks a run for their money. This is the best remaining game to get a win but the team is yet again banged up with Marc Bulger, Isaac Bruce, Steven Jackson and Drew Bennett all nursing injuries during or after the game. Even without those stars, the Rams would have a nice chance at a win this week.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger suffered a concussion in the first quarter last week and ended up in a hospital after the game where a CAT scan showed no damage. He has not been cleared to play yet but HC Scott Linehan was upbeat that he could return this week. I will assume that Bulger can play and update if warranted. Bulger was starting to get his rhythm back this year despite being constantly beaten up each week. Three games this year had him sacked six or more times.

Gus Frerotte will start if Bulger cannot play.

Running Backs: Steven Jackson got jacked up last week but was able to return to the game after being cleared on the sideline that he did not have a concussion. He ended with one of his better games of the year with 23 carries for 90 yards and a score against the Seahawks and that makes three of the last four games with a touchdown and 100 or more total yards in each of those weeks. This week should be the best chance for a big game for the rest of the season.

Wide Receivers: Here is where the problems start up again. Isaac Bruce sprained his left hand on the final drive last Sunday and could be questionable this week. Drew Bennett re-aggravated his hamstring strain as well but still played through it but only gained 35 yards on four receptions. Torry Holt remains healthy at least in the sense his chronic knee condition is no worse than it has been.

I will project for all three to play this week but check back if you need either Bruce or Bennett since they will need to show in practice that they can play this week.

Tight Ends: Randy McMichael was turning in around 30 or 40 yards each week but has tailed off the last two games. If either Bennett or Bruce cannot play this week, McMichael should see at least a little more action unless Jackson is wildly successful in the rushing game.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons low ranking against the run comes primarily from allowing running backs to score 11 times this year and three came via a pass. Look for Jackson to have a decent game here that still likely ends below 100 rushing yards but with one rushing score.

Bulger, or even Frerotte for that matter, should have some success against the Falcons secondary that is ranked as high as they are only thanks to facing some of the worst passing attacks in the league. Five quarterbacks have thrown two touchdowns against them and while DeAngelo Hall will try to match on Torry Holt, the Rams will move the receivers around enough to get different match-ups. The health of the receivers is key of course but expect Bulger to have a nice game here with moderate yardage and at least one score unless Jackson runs in two. Again - check the Friday updates since so many of these players could be questionable this week. This is a good chance for McMichael to score again.

Gaining Fantasy Points STL 26 31 13 22 21 26
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 8 27 6 28 15 26

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night

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