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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: CAR 20, MIN 17

Update: This game has taken a different tone with Gus Frerotte replacing Tarvaris Jackson. Sidney Rice was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of a strained PCL. He has some limited work on Friday but is unlikely to play and is listed as questionable. I am removing him from the projections. Bernard Berrian is being bothered by a sprained big toe on his right foot and was limited in practice this week but is expected to play.

Adrian Peterson was limited in practice on Wednesday and Friday and was held out on Thursday to rest his strained hamstring. HC Brad Childress said that Peterson will likely come down to a gametime decision This is an early game on Sunday so if he is made inactive, you will have time to make other plans. Regardless, expect fro Chester Taylor to get more work this week because at best Peterson is playing while injured. I am lowering the projections for Peterson significantly and he may not play. Along with the injuries to Rice and Berrian makes me even more comfortable calling for this upset by the Panthers.

The surprising Panthers have a shot at really starting the year out with a bang if they can get a win here since their next five games could easily hold four more wins and a 7-1 record (or 'gasp' 8-0) at the bye week would not only be an obvious contender for the playoffs, but they schedule doesn't get that much worse in the second half either. The Vikings continue to try to balance their stool with defense and rushing offense but when the passing game is needed - the same struggles from 2007 are popping up. One other factor at play here is the Panthers going 2-0 without Steve Smith who returns for this game. Imagine the Vikings without Adrian Peterson.

Carolina Panthers (2-0)
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SD 26-24 +9 42
2 CHI 20-17 -3 37
3 @MIN - +3.5 37
4 ATL - - -
5 KC - - -
6 @TB - - -
7 NO - - -
8 ARZ - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 @OAK - - -
11 DET - - -
12 @ATL - - -
13 @GB - - -
14 TB - - -
15 DEN - - -
16 @NYG - - -
17 @NO - - -
CAR at MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     240,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 50,1    
RB DeAngelo Williams 40 10  
TE Dante Rosario   20  
WR Steve Smith   100,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   60  
WR D.J. Hackett   40  
PK John Kasay 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Two close wins over quality opponents have given all new confidence to the Panthers who not only get Steve Smith back this week, they also are seeing more and more from Jonathan Stewart as a runner. The schedule is much lighter this year and the offense better stocked with weapons than perhaps any time in the last decade. As long as the Panthers can remain healthy, they should be a lock for some playing time in January.

Quarterback: After a nice season opener, Jake Delhomme only had 128 passing yards and no scores against the Bears but he only threw 21 times and the rushing attack was enough to secure the win thanks to the emergence of Jonathan Stewart during the second half. Delhomme gets Steve Smith back this week which should immediately bump up stats for the rest of the year but if the rushing of Williams and Stewart continues to shine, it will depress the passing numbers here.

Running Backs: There has been no official word about a transition yet other than HC John Fox saying that Jonathan Stewart needs to get more work. After only having one carry in the first half, the rookie ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears and looked dominating on several plays. Stewart showed both nice cuts and bruising power and made some inroads to becoming a primary back. Last week DeAngelo Williams rushed 11 times for only 36 yards and if he does that once more while Stewart runs well, then the change will become official. Facing a stingy Bears' defense last week, the rookie looked like the complete back the Panthers were hoping they drafted.

Wide Receivers: D.J. Hackett shifts over to the slot role with the return of Steve Smith to the offense. Muhsin Muhammad has been a nice addition so far with around five catches for 60 yards in each game and he'll continue to offer a valuable possession role. But this passing game revolves around Steve Smith who should be back with a vengeance after his two-week suspension.

If the running backs can continue to play well, it will reduce the plays that the wideouts get but it could make Steve Smith even more efficient. Up until now, the defenses never had much to worry about than him.

Tight Ends: After opening the season with a huge game, Dante Rosario only came up with one catch for six yards last week and the addition of Steve Smith won't make Rosario's numbers increase. He'll still be a factor in most games but not significant enough for fantasy consideration.

Match Against the Defense: Playing in the Metrodome is never easy for opposing runners and Addai just had 20 yards on 15 carries there. And he did not have to split carries. This is a major test for the rookie Stewart because if he can repeat week two on the road against a stellar rush defense, then he is the clear primary back there. Chances are too high that the rushing game will be only moderately successful though. Expect moderate yards at best and no more than one rushing score.

Delhomme goes against the weakness of the Vikings and that is throwing to the wideouts. Two weeks into the season and three players already have 90+ receiving yards against the Vikes. Expect at least one passing score here that has to favor the returning Steve Smith.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 26 19 25 5 3 11
Preventing Fantasy Points    MIN 26 7 21 10 8 22

Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
Homefield: Metrodome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @GB 19-24 +3 38.5
2 IND 15-18 +2 43.5
3 CAR - -3.5 37
4 @TEN - - -
5 @NO - - -
6 DET - - -
7 @CHI - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 HOU - - -
10 GB - - -
11 @TB - - -
12 @JAX - - -
13 CHI - - -
14 @DET - - -
15 @ARZ - - -
16 ATL - - -
17 NYG - - -
MIN vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Tarvaris Jackson 20 150,1
QB Gus Frerotte     180,1
RB Chester Taylor 60,1 30  
RB Adrian Peterson 50    
TE Visanthe Shiancoe   20  
WR Bernard Berrian   40  
WR Bobby Wade   50,1  
WR Sidney Rice 40,1
PK Ryan Longwell 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Vikings stumble to 0-2 with their inability to hold onto a lead over the Colts. There's nothing wrong with the NFL's most productive rushing game so far this season but the pass defense is showing cracks and the last two weeks have shown that once again the Vikes passing attack is just sub-standard. Whether it is the play calling or just Tarvaris Jackson doesn't really matter - it just doesn't work yet. And since it is probably a bit of both, the outlook here is limited. Peterson is truly an elite player but this is a team sport. He cannot do it all.

Quarterback: Two games into a season that was hoped to be Tarvaris Jackson taking the next step up have produced the same results as last year. Jackson is only averaging about 150 yards per week and has one score and two turnovers after playing in games where the Vikes have lost. His big 65 rushing yard game gave way to only one yard on one run last week so even that element of Jackson is not coming through.

What's worse is that the Vikes appear to actually have the talent at wideout to be at least average - but it is not happening with Jackson at the helm. There is some rumbling that a a change could be made to Gus Frerotte.

Running Backs: After two weeks, Adrian Peterson leads all NFL backs with a total of 263 rushing yards and he is averaging a healthy 5.5 yards per carry. Chester Taylor has lost all fantasy value with only around 30 yards per game. Peterson was hit hard late in last Sunday's game and had his foot and ankle examined on the sideline. Barring any information about that, I will assume that he will play at 100% healthy for the Vikes this week. At home against the Colts he rushed for 160 yards.

Wide Receivers: The best any wideout has done this year has been Bobby Wade catching three passes for 38 yards last week. Sidney Rice only had one pass thrown to him and it was incomplete. Bernard "the Pricey" Berrian had four passes thrown to him and all were incomplete as well. Unfortunately, Jackson's biggest weakness has been on completing on the corners or deeper than the first tier. Rice scored once in week one, but there is not enough reliability to ever use a Vikings wideout this year, even as a bye week filler.

Tight Ends: It is bad for the tight ends and it gets no better here.

Match Against the Defense: The only question here is how well can the Panthers stop the run? Ends up not all that great. The two runners so far to face the Panthers (Tomlinson and Forte) have both turned in 90 plus rushing yards and Peterson at home is truly something that defenses fear. Expect a great game here by Peterson unless he is still banged up from last week.

Jackson goes against a secondary that only allowed Orton 149 yards and that is very Jacksonian for a game stat. Expect mediocre passing numbers here and a chance for one passing score that would favor Rice the most.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 22 15 27 15 1 29
Preventing Fantasy Points    CAR 15 14 12 27 12 11

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