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

Prediction: ATL 10, CAR 24

The Falcons are flying high again after yet another drubbing of a bad visiting team. The road version of the team is not quite so impressive and the Panthers are back in Carolina after their first loss of the year. Atlanta is getting better, but not nearly this much better.

Surprisingly, thee teams traded road wins in 2007 with the Panthers scoring 27-20 in Atlanta and the Falcons winning 20-13 in Carolina.

Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DET 34-21 +3 41
2 @TB 9-24 +8 38.5
3 KC 38-14 -5 36
4 @CAR - +7 39.5
5 @GB - - -
6 CHI - - -
7 BYE - - -
8 @PHI - - -
9 @OAK - - -
10 NO - - -
11 DEN - - -
12 CAR - - -
13 @SD - - -
14 @NO - - -
15 TB - - -
16 @MIN - - -
17 STL - - -
ATL at CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     160
RB Michael Turner 60,1 10  
WR Michael Jenkins   20  
WR Roddy White   70  
WR Harry Douglas   40  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The monster win over the Chiefs says more about their opponent than it did about the Falcons who have now already feasted on the easier part of their schedule. The next five games feature four road trips and the home stand against the Bears won't be a cakewalk either. The Falcons have a winning record now and probably not again until next year but the franchise is finally heading all in the same direction.

Quarterback: At some point Matt Ryan is going to throw a touchdown of less than 60 yards. His two scored so far were on bombs to Michael Jenkins and Roddy White and greatly added to passing stats which still have not topped 200 passing yards yet. His worst game so far came in the only road game so far when he only completed 13 of 33 for 158 yards in Tampa Bay and had two interceptions. That game is the best model for the trip to Carolina.

Joey Harrington passed for 361 yards and two scores in Carolina last year but only had 192 yards and one touchdown in the home meeting with the Panthers.

Running Backs: Stick Michael Turner in front of a terrible visiting defense and he simply explodes. Problem is while it has happened twice in the first three weeks, it may not happen again until week 17 when the Rams show up. Turner has five touchdowns on the season already and none came in the one road game to Tampa Bay when all he could do was gain 42 yards on 14 carries.

Turner likely looks about as good as he is going to look for the year. When he doesn't score multiple touchdowns and rush for huge yardage at home, his sharing ratio with Jerious Norwood (roughly 2:1) makes his road stats even lower.

Wide Receivers: Roddy White snagged a 70-yard touchdown last week to get his first 100 yard game of the season. The first two weeks had White turning in around three catches for 55 yards and that was what he did again in week three - plus the 70 yards on the touchdown. White continues to be used in road games but Michael Jenkins disappeared entirely in the Tampa Bay game. Harry Douglas in the slot manages around two catches per week but this passing attack, meager as it is, still revolves around getting White the ball.

Laurent Robinson hurt his knee last week and I will consider him out. He is not yet worth projecting for anyway.

White caught 7 passes for 127 yards and a score in Carolina last season but only turned in six receptions for 57 yards in the home meeting.

Tight Ends: Never more than one catch per week - no fantasy value here.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers rushing defense has been very good and no runner has topped 100 yards and only one has scored. This looks like a much lower effort for Turner this week and most likely a very minimal day for Norwood. Expect a decent game for yardage and the chance for one rushing score. I like the chance for the Falcons to have one touchdown and that will almost have to be a rushing score.

Ryan on the road hasn't been good so far and he is still learning the game. There should be some trash time at the end of this game that benefits the wideouts. The Panthers are soft against tight ends but the Falcons never use them. That means Roddy White has the only fantasy value here and even he will do well enough to get moderate yardage and no touchdowns.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 26 1 16 32 9 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    CAR 11 12 10 29 12 23

Carolina Panthers (2-1)
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SD 26-24 +9 42
2 CHI 20-17 -3 37
3 @MIN 10-20 +3.5 37
4 ATL - -7 39.5
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 vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     190,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 80,1    
RB DeAngelo Williams 70,1 10  
TE Dante Rosario   10  
WR Steve Smith   90,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   40  
WR D.J. Hackett   30  
PK John Kasay 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Panthers come off their first loss of the year in a game where Steve Smith finally returned. The loss was disappointing but the schedule is about to become a very nice ally for the Panthers who spend the next five weeks with home games against ATL, KC, NO and ARZ. With a 2-1 record already, the Panthers should reach their bye in week nine in great shape for what will still be a nice schedule. The Panthers may have already faced their three toughest defenses of the year.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme has had a tough go against those defenses and had just one passing score on the year. Last week he was sacked five times and lost two fumbles but better games should be on the immediate horizon. Even though the passing game has been pedestrian against the defenses of SD, CHI and MIN, Steve Smith is back and the schedule is about to become Delhomme's best friend.... other than Steve Smith.

Running Backs: The Vikings at home are always a very tough defense to run against and the Panthers only had a paltry 42 rushing yards on 17 carries last week. But Jonathan Stewart scored his third NFL touchdown and there is speculation that he will become the starter very soon. The reason being that the Panthers can use the bigger Stewart to pound defenses early and then mix in the speedy DeAngelo Williams later in the game as opposed to the opposite plan that has been used so far.

The fantasy value of this backfield should be increasing sharply now that the worse match-ups are out of the way and the roles of Stewart and Williams should remain of keen interest to the fantasy world.

Wide Receivers: The return of Steve Smith only netted four catches for 70 yards in Minnesota though that was team leading. Muhsin Muhammad maintained his role as the possession receiver while D.J. Hackett returned to being the slot receiver and had minimal use. This week should see what will become standing in most games - heavy use of Smith and then barely enough stats from the others to warrant them being a fantasy bye week filler at best.

The easier schedule coming up should spark an increase in the rushing game and that will come at the expense of the passing to some degree. You can be sure Smith will get his work in but the others will likely require tougher match-ups to merit consideration.

Tight Ends: After his explosive week one, Dante Rosario has only three catches for 24 yards in the last two games. Hope you didn't pay too much for him on waivers.

Match Against the Defense: There is no reason why the Panthers should not have nice stats from both Williams and Stewart this week. The Falcons have already allowed two runners to top 100 yards and given up at least one rushing score every week. Look for both runners to have nice yardage and at least Stewart will get a score.

Delhomme faces a secondary that has always allowed at least one passing score so look for Steve Smith to get back to work this week with a good game. The others won't have enough passes to merit a fantasy start since the rushing game should be the primary focus this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 31 21 27 7 10 17
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 16 23 11 28 2 4
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