The Huddle on Facebook Facebook   The Huddle on Twitter Twitter   The Huddle Mobile Mobile Welcome, GuestJOINHELP


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

Prediction: SFO 16, CAR 17

Update: Frank Gore has been limited in practice this week but is still expected to play. There does not appear to be a reason to change the projections.

This is a messy game. The 49ers come off a nice win last week that was entirely different than their previous eight games while the Panthers are literally 0-5 at home and yet 4-2 on the road. Two of the 49ers wins have come on the road though the Panthers are at home and can they really fall to 0-6 against a visitor that lost eight straight games? Stay away from this game if you are in Vegas. Heck, I would stay away if I was parked across the street from the stadium on Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers (3-8)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARI 20-17 -3.5 45
2 @STL 17-16 +3 44
3 @PIT 16-37 +9 35.5
4 SEA 3-23 +1.5 40.5
5 BAL 7-9 +3.5 34.5
6 BYE - - -
7 @NYG 6-33 +9.5 40
8 NO 10-31 +2.5 40
9 @ATL 16-20 +3 37
10 @SEA 0-24 +10 39.5
11 STL 9-13 +2.5 41
12 @ARI 37-31 +10 38
13 @CAR   +3 35.5
14 MIN 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 CIN 15-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
16 TB 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 @CLE 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
SFO at CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer     210
RB Frank Gore 70,1 30  
TE Vernon Davis   60  
WR Darrell Jackson   30  
WR Arnaz Battle   70  
WR Ashley Lelie   10  
PK Joe Nedney 3 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: What to think? The 49ers still have the lowest scoring team in the NFL but come off a game with 36 points? They had never had more than 20 in any game this year and under 17 in the previous eight games when they strung together a losing streak second only to Miami. Frank Gore came up huge in Carolina but adds fresh bruises and bumps to a body already creaking. About all the 49ers are doing now is messing up their draft pick slot. Then again, they may be trying to save jobs.

Quarterback: Alex Smith is likely gone for the season with lingering shoulder and forearm problems which leave the 49ers with Trent Dilfer - not a bad thing after all. Dilfer threw for two scores in Arizona and had 256 passing yards for a season high for the 49ers. Still that game was an aberration since he had thrown two interceptions in his two previous starts and had none in Arizona. Until Dilfer does that twice in a row, it has to be considered just a a trap game by a team that was on an eight game losing streak and that not even the Cardinals took seriously.

Running Backs: Frank Gore has been banged up most of the season and thought he had broken his ankle early in the Cardinals game but he gutted it out and turned in his best effort of the year - by far. Gore had never had more than 88 rushing yards and had no scored since week two. In Arizona, he ran for 116 yards on 21 carries, scored two touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 98 yards. By comparison, Gore had been averaging around 58 rushing yards per game previous to Sunday. He now has five rushing scores - all coming in the three wins this season.

Gore is going through a monumentally bad season after such great returns on last season but he continues to play hurt and do everything he can for his team. Not unlike his entire team, he has now had one great game after eight bad ones.

Wide Receivers: Even with the improved passing numbers last week, Darrell Jackson still only managed five catches for 43 yards and that was his best game in the last seven weeks. Arnaz Battle scored against the Cardinals but that came on his one catch for 57 yards. Still, Battle is the best bet for top wideout here but that tops out around 70 or 80 yards in most games. What's even worse is that both Ashley Lelie and Bryan Gilmore played and neither had a catch. Not a lot of diversity here and not much in the way of fantasy points either.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis is fast becoming the primary target in this offense but that hasn't meant much more than 50 or so yards in most games. He has scored twice this year but his value seems high mainly because everyone else on the 49ers is so low.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers rank about average in most categories but lately are far below those marks. And yet the 49ers have been nothing short of horrific until last week. That makes for a tough situation to forecast since the Panthers are due to make a stand with Testaverde back and the 49ers have now outright sucked 8 of the last 9 games.

Relying on the 49ers to have gained a little confidence and turned a small corner, coupled with facing a team that has just fallen on very hard times leads the most likely expectation here is for Gore to have a decent game with a shot at a touchdown. At some point he is not going to be able to be the hero and play with pain but should last this week.

Dilfer looked better in Arizona and the Panthers have been giving up the yards and scores via the pass but they have also faced Brees, Favre and Manning recently. I like the Panthers to battle back this week and keep Dilfer from scoring. If he does have a touchdown pass, it would almost have to go to Davis.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 31 28 30 20 31 29
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 20 16 13 21 17 13


Carolina Panthers (4-7)
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 6-31 +3 41
13 SF   -3 35.5
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 SFO Rush Catch Pass
QB Vinny Testaverde     190,2
RB DeShaun Foster 70 10  
TE Jeff King   30  
WR Steve Smith   80,1  
WR Keary Colbert   40  
WR Drew Carter   30,1  
PK John Kasay 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Panthers have lost their last five games and are an incredible 0-5 at home. The offense has lost almost all punch and without Testaverde cannot even decide which quarterback will lose the game. What is even worse is that this week is almost certainly the final chance for a win this season barring an upset. The Panthers close out their season against three division leaders and a game in Jacksonville. No doubt that the Panthers will be looking for a good back-up quarterback in the offseason because once Delhomme went down, so did the Panthers chances to win.

Quarterback: Vinny Testaverde woke up last Saturday with a sore back and ended up inactive for the game. That left the Panthers to struggle with David Carr (10-22, 95 yards, 2 int.) and eventually Matt Moore (8-14, 88 yards) because the fans were booing so loudly that HC John Fox feared they would start throwing beer vendors onto the field. Testaverde is the only quarterback that gives this team a chance to win and even then his results have been less than stellar.

I will project for Testaverde to play and update if his back continues to be a problem.

Running Backs: DeShaun Foster hit a career low point when he lost five yards on nine carries last week. He typically gets about 17 to 20 carries each week but rarely has more than 60 or so yards. Since Delhomme left, Foster has averaged only 54 rushing yards per game and has scored only once. Without a passing game to respect, Foster cannot get the lanes he needs to run. When Testaverde starts, Foster's numbers go up. It is a simple equation.

Wide Receivers: Steve Smith managed to catch six passes for 47 yards last week and that was better than he had done in any game without Delhomme or Testaverde as the starter. He has really lost all fantasy value for the last month, topping out at just 61 yards at home against Atlanta when Testaverde was the starter. All other wideouts remain safely under 50 yards in those games.

Tight Ends: Jeff King has marginal fantasy value at best but he has never scored without Delhomme and only once had more than 36 yards in a game without him.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers are average against the run at best but the Panthers cannot get into the endzone with Foster. It could happen this week since the 49ers have allowed at least one rushing score in each of the last five road games but it's optimistic to expect.

If Testaverde plays, he goes against a secondary that can be beaten and that has given up at least one or two passing scores in almost every game this year. Vinny could score twice against this defense but Moore or Carr would do well enough to have just one. Smith is always the most likely and the other would more likely end up with Carter.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 24 24 18 21 27 32
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 21 18 25 15 28 27

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night

Other Features

Fantasy Statistics
Training Room
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Tunnel Vision
a d v e r t i s e m e n t