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

Prediction: ARI 24, NOS 31

Update: Olindo Mare was placed on injured reserve and the Saints signed Martin Gramatica as a replacement. Anquan Boldin was held out on Wednesday but did some running on Thursday and has not yet been counted out of the game. Boldin himself says that he expects to play barring any setbacks but he was wearing a walking boot on Wednesday. I am not adding him into the projections but he could play and if he does, obviously impacts what Bryant Johnson does. It is likely to be another game time decision but at least this is in the first round of games so you can know if he is active before the kickoffs on Sunday.

Larry Fitzgerald has been limited in practice this week but expects to play and HC Ken Whisenhunt said that he's healthier now than he was this time last week. Fitzgerald had 79 yards and a score against the Seahawks, so play him without any reservation this week.

Eric Johnson has been unable to practice this week and may miss the game. I am removing him from the projections.

At 6-7 on the season, both these teams are entertaining fantasies about reaching the playoffs via the final wildcard and after this game, at least one of them will no longer pretend. Maybe neither depending on how Sunday goes for other teams. But the Cardinals are only 2-5 on the road this year and playing without Boldin while the Saints are just 2-4 at home but remain in New Orleans for the second week. Could go either way here but the Saints at least are at home while trying to hide the fact that Reggie Bush is out.

Arizona Cardinals (6-7)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SF 17-20 +3.5 45
2 SEA 23-20 +2.5 42.5
3 @BAL 23-26 +8 35.5
4 PIT 21-14 +6 42.5
5 @STL 34-31 -3 40.5
6 CAR 10-25 -6 38.5
7 @WAS 19-21 +7 37
8 BYE - - -
9 @TB 10-17 +3.5 37
10 DET 31-21 -1 45
11 @CIN 35-27 +3 48.5
12 SF 31-37 -10 38
13 CLE 27-21 -1 51.5
14 @SEA 21-42 +7 44.5
15 @NO   +3.5 49
16 ATL 23-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
17 STL 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
ARI at NOS Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     310,2
RB Edgerrin James 50,1 10  
TE Ben Patrick   10  
WR Jerheme Urban   50  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   120,1  
WR Bryant Johnson   90,1  
PK Neil Rackers 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Cardinals were drummed in Seattle last week and like most road games, the stats all around were much less than at home. Missing Boldin is a big blow for this offense particularly when Fitzgerald is not 100% himself. But the defense has never risen above average this year and the running game has been consistently bad on the road. Two home games after this week mean the Cards could very well end up with an 8-8 record since only the Falcons and Rams are showing up.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner comes off a record performance since his entire career had never seen a five interception game before. He did post 337 yards and two scores which was admirable in Seattle but the turnovers and five sacks showed what happens when the Cards leave the safer confines of Arizona. Warner has been throwing for at least two scores in each of the last five games and now hits a final three game stretch against some of the worst secondaries he'll face all year.

Running Backs: Edgerrin James chugs along at a much less impressive pace as the season grows old. In his last three road games, he never topped 52 rushing yards and comes off a season high of only three catches for 24 yards. After scoring five times in the first half of the season, he only has one touchdown since week nine.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin was a scratch last week because of his dislocated toe and while they are still trying to find orthotics that would allow him to play, I am counting him out until he can practice. Larry Fitzgerald managed to play last week despite a strained groin that still hurt him during the game and prevented him from much practice during the week but he still turned in six catches for 79 yards and a score. That gives him at least one score in each of his last four games and he has scored six times since week nine - only once in the first half of the season.

Bryant Johnson took over for Boldin last week but only had one catch for five yards though it was a score. Jerheme Urban instead had a career game of six receptions for 123 yards and the remaining touchdown. He is not developing into the next great receiver by any means and his touchdown came only after the ball bounced off his facemask and landed in his arms. It was just a payback game for him since he had spent the previous three seasons in Seattle.

Tight Ends: The Cards lost promising tight end Leonard Pope to a dislocated ankle and he will be replaced by Ben Patrick who only has four career catches. Troy Bienemann will move to the #2 spot on the depth chart.

Match Against the Defense: Nothing like playing against the Saints to make a passing game look good. The rush defense has been pretty solid this year in New Orleans and James is always less away from Arizona. Expect only moderate rushing numbers here but a decent chance for one rushing score.

Warner faces a secondary that has allowed around 300 yards and two scores to each of the last four visiting quarterbacks in New Orleans and as long as Warner can limit his completions to his own team, he should post some nice numbers here. Fitzgerald should be a lock for a good game and a score and with Pope out, it makes Johnson and Urban even more important. Expect more out of Johnson this week unless Boldin somehow returns.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 9 30 5 19 26 14
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 30 4 31 21 22 6


New Orleans Saints (6-7)
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 31-6 -3 41
13 TB 23-27 -3 42
14 @ATL 34-14 -4.5 42.5
15 ARI   -3.5 49
16 PHI 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 @CHI 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
NOR vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     270,3
RB Aaron Stecker 70 20  
TE Eric Johnson 20
WR Marques Colston   100,1  
WR Devery Henderson   50,1  
WR David Patten   70,1  
PK Martin Gramatica 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Saints come off a satisfying win over the Falcons on Monday night and while it was just one game, at least the first attempt at playing without Reggie Bush went well. The season is not ending on an easy note with the Cards and Eagles coming to town and then wrapping up the season in Chicago but after a horrible start to the season, at least the Saints can feel progress and some optimism for 2008 when they have a healthy backfield again. Olindo Mare injured his leg in the Monday night game and could be an issue playing this week. I will assume he suits up but may need to update that later.

Quarterback: In the first six games of the season, Drew Brees only passed for five touchdowns against ten interceptions but in the last seven games, he has totaled 18 passing scores and topped 290 passing yards four times. Only once since week five has he failed to throw for at least two scores and only against the Buccaneers did he have less than 250 passing yards. He has returned to 2006 form, it just took him too long to make the season a success and he has no running game to support him for the rest of the year so you know he will continue to throw.

Running Backs: Now that Reggie Bush is also sidelined for what should be the rest of the year, the Saints turned to Aaron Stecker who rushed for 100 yards on 20 carries on Monday but most of that came in the second half when the Falcons no longer cared. And Stecker only had three catches for seven yards so he's not yet replaced the most valuable aspect of Reggie Bush. Pierre Thomas also had six carries for 31 yards but Stecker is the primary here until he too is injured.

Wide Receivers: Marques Colston dropped a clunker of only 39 yards against the Buccaneers in week 13 but he returned to form with nine catches for 92 yards and two scores against the Falcons. That makes six of his last seven games ring in over 85 receiving yards as the only consistent Saints wideout. What is odd about Colston is that he has scored eight times this year and yet not once in a home game. All eight came in road efforts. His two biggest yardage games were in New Orleans but they too had no touchdowns.

David Patten was on a hot streak during mid-season but had disappeared the last three weeks. He showed up again with a season high nine catches for 122 yards and a score in Atlanta which should mean he will burn anyone who relies on him this week. He's just been inconsistent though he tends to go on streaks. No other wideout had more than one catch on Monday.

Tight Ends: Eric Johnson continues his mediocre ways and has not scored since week ten. He rarely has more than 20 yards in a game since midseason. Brees is back to using wideouts.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals rushing defense has been only average at best this year and on the road tends to be worse. But the Saints are down to Just Stecker and Thomas so expect only moderate numbers here unless the Saints once again get a big lead and can just concentrate on the marginally productive run to burn up the game clock.

Brees faces a secondary that has given up at least two passing scores to each opponent for the last five weeks and every game came in over 250 passing yards. Hasselbeck just torched them for four scores last week. Look for at least two passing scores here and likely three with healthy yardage. The Cardinals do not allow many big games by receivers but as a group they always succeed against them. This should be a very good place for Colston to finally break his home scoring drought. I like the chance for a defensive score in this game.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 6 16 7 14 31 18
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 23 16 29 1 21 25

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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