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

Prediction: DAL 27, CAR 13

Update: Tony Romo has been practicing fully with his sore thumb and is expected to start without limitation this week. Terry Glenn is inactive this week but could play in the season finale just to get some playing time before the playoffs. Keary Colbert remains unlikely to play with a sprained knee and has not practiced.

The Cowboys stumbled last week and lost a couple of players in the process. Now tied with Green Bay in the hunt for the #1 seed, they have to win out or have the Packers lose to maintain homefield in the playoffs. Dallas is 6-0 on the road this season and won 35-14 in Carolina last year. The Panthers are 2-5 at home and come off an upset win over the Seahawks.

Dallas Cowboys (12-2)
Homefield: Texas Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 NYG 45-35 -5.5 44
2 @MIA 37-20 -3.5 40.5
3 @CHI 34-10 +3 41
4 STL 35-7 -13 47
5 @BUF 25-24 -10 42
6 NE 27-48 +5 52.5
7 MIN 24-14 -9.5 46
8 BYE - - -
9 @PHI 38-17 -3 46
10 @NYG 31-20 -1.5 49
11 WAS 28-23 -10.5 47
12 NYJ 34-3 -14.5 47
13 GB 37-27 -6.5 52
14 @DET 28-27 -10.5 38
15 PHI 6-10 -10.5 48
16 @CAR   -13 44.5
17 @WAS 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
DAL at CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     260,2
RB Julius Jones 30 10  
RB Marion Barber 50,1 20  
TE Jason Witten   80,1  
WR Terrell Owens   100,1  
WR Patrick Crayton   30  
WR Sam Hurd   20  
PK Nick Folk 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The loss against the Eagles really knocked the Cowboys down a notch and made them look oddly similar to last year when a late season slide undid much of the earlier season progress. Tony Romo injured his thumb and Terrell Owens was dropping passes. Now the Cowboys have to keep winning or risk playing in Green Bay in the championship game - provided they get that far if they do not bounce back from a shockingly lackluster showing last week.

Quarterback: After scoring in every game this year and coming off two 300 yard games, Tony Romo laid an egg last week with only 214 passing yards and three interceptions. He only completed 13 of 36 passes and this at home in decent weather. But Romo remains the clear #2 best quarterback in the NFL this year and his thumb is not supposed to be an issue this week. He left the game with only some tape on it and HC Wade Phillips said he did not expect it to be an issue.

Romo passed for 270 yards and one score against the Panthers last year.

Running Backs: It was suspiciously like last year when Marion Barber fell flat against the visiting Eagles. He only gained 32 yards on seven carries and had no catches for the first time this year. But that was just one game and the Cowboys were off their normal form as were many NFL teams. He was also coming off a three touchdown game in Detroit. While Julius Jones has not turned in more than nine carries for the last three weeks, Barber remains the core to the running game and should bounce back this week.

Julius Jones rushed for 92 yards on 24 carries and scored once while Barber gained 49 yards on nine carries and had two touchdowns in Carolina last season.

Wide Receivers: After scoring in seven consecutive games, Terrell Owens has not had any scores or more than 37 yards in the last two weeks. Patrick Crayton has been locked around 50 yards per game in the three weeks since he returned but did have two scores against the Packers. Sam Hurd continues to figure in but Terry Glenn is slated to return to practice this week. Too early to expect him to play but there may be an update later in the week. If Glenn does play, expect him to only start out with a limited role after missing the entire season so far.

Owens caught nine passes for 107 yards in Carolina last year.

Tight Ends: These most recent games have seen the Cowboys struggle in several areas but not with the tight end position. Jason Witten is enjoying a record year and already has 1068 receiving yards for a Cowboys first. That includes 23 catches for 251 yards in the last two weeks alone. He already has four efforts over the 100 yard mark. Witten is now tracking along with Antonio Gates as the premier fantasy tight end.

Witten caught six passes for 80 yards and scored once in Carolina last season.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys have been in a mini-slump the last couple of weeks and that is not unlike 2006 when they stumbled into the playoffs and lost in the first week. Barber faces an average rush defense this week but really needs a decent game here to make up for the last two weeks. The Panthers are coming off a much needed win and should be amenable to allowing the Cowboys to revert to form against a team that has been playing poorly for much of the year. Look for good yardage here and at least one score.

Romo's thumb is not supposed to be an issue and the Panthers have allowed at least two passing scores to any opponent with a good offense. Look for at least two touchdowns by Romo with a decent chance for three that should go back to the well and come up with the normal suspects - Owens needs a good game to shut him up and make amends for dropping passes last week and there has been almost no shutting down Jason Witten this year. The Panthers have held all opposing tight ends to 63 yards or less but they have rarely played any top tight end in the league.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 2 10 8 1 4 10
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 20 15 18 19 14 12


Carolina Panthers (6-8)
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 31-14 -3 35.5
14 @JAC 6-37 -10.5 38
15 SEA 13-10 +7 38
16 DAL   +13 44.5
17 @TB 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
CAR vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Moore     190,1
RB DeShaun Foster 50 10  
RB DeAngelo Williams 50 10  
TE Jeff King   20  
WR Steve Smith   80,1  
WR Ryne Robinson   20  
WR Drew Carter   40  
PK John Kasay 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Panthers come off their biggest win of the season when they beat the Seahawks in one of many trap games last Sunday. Notable too was that they went with Matt Moore as quarterback - an ex-Cowboys bench player who was the last man standing in Carolina. The Panthers are ending another forgettable season and the offense has scored more than 17 points only once in the last eight games. Hard to imagine that they have one more trap game left in them with Dallas coming off a loss. With any luck, the Buccaneers will be resting starters next week and give the Panthers a shot at one more win.

Quarterback: Matt Moore took his first NFL start last week and ended with 19 of 27 for 208 yards. He never scored but also had no turnovers or sacks. It was hardly a game to draw many conclusions from though since the Seahawks evidently thought they could win without trying. Moore gets a shot at the team that let him go in the offseason believing that they could claim him back from waivers and put him on the practice squad but the Panthers snatched him. Ends up a prudent move for a franchise that is now on their fourth starting quarterback of the year.

Delhomme passed for just 149 yards versus the Cowboys in 2006.

Running Backs: Even in the win last week, DeShaun Foster could only produce 47 yards on 18 carries though DeAngelo Williams had 61 yards on 15 runs and scored once (accounting for half his yardage). The Panthers rushing attack has been mediocre at best this year and aside from the one run by Williams still did little last week when the Panthers recorded only their fifth rushing touchdown on the year.

Foster only gained 50 yards on 15 carries but scored once against the visiting Cowboys in 2006.

Wide Receivers: One glimmer of hope is that Steve Smith went against a tough Seattle secondary and ended with 72 yards on eight catches for his best effort since week six. He still has not scored over the last seven games but his 72 yards was almost double what he had been turning in. Keary Colbert was a scratch last week and allowed the rookie Ryne Robinson to record two catches for 20 yards while Dwayne Jarrett was inactive and still apparently a bad draft pick.

Smith recorded six catches for 55 yards and scored on a 24-yard run versus the Cowboys last year.

Tight Ends: As if the season hadn't already been a disappointment for Jeff King, Dante Rosario caught a 54 yard pass against the Seahawks while King had his third consecutive game under 20 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys have always had one of the better rushing defenses and the Panthers are muddled in mediocrity this year anyway. Barring any break away run, do not expect anything more than the normal minimal numbers from the rushing game this week. The suspension of Roy Williams could help, but nothing in the last 15 weeks says the Panthers can take advantage of it.

Where this game could hold a little promise is that the Cowboys will be without both safeties this week since Patrick Watkins is injured and Roy Williams is writing "I will not grab shoulder pads" 1000 times on a chalkboard. That could be a benefit for Steve Smith who had some success last week with Moore at the helm and it is a safe bet that the Panthers will need to throw. Dallas will be motivated in this game though and beyond the potential of Smith, there isn't any other fantasy starts on the Panthers.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 28 25 22 19 25 28
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 14 8 21 16 12 16

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
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