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

Prediction: ATL 10, GB 23

Update: Aaron Rodgers was limited in practice on Wednesday and Friday and was even held out on Thursday. He is listed as questionable and HC Mike McCarthy said that he won't determine Rodgers' playing status until 11:30 A.M. on Sunday. I already had given him a low output this week since the ground game should be showcased and this gametime decision makes it even worse. I am lowering him a little more and make sure you check the inactives if you intend on using him on Sunday.

The Packers hot start to the season has bogged down now with a 2-2 record but the Falcons come to town with the same record and an unusual trend of losing all road games by the exact score of 9-24 so far this year. The Packers need to pick up the easy ones and this... is an easy one.

Atlanta Falcons (2-2)
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 9-24 +7 39.5
5 @GB - Open -
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 GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     190
RB Michael Turner 80,1    
RB Jerious Norwood 40 20  
WR Michael Jenkins   30  
WR Roddy White   80  
WR Harry Douglas   40  
PK Jason Elam 1 XP 1 FG  
Pregame Notes: Each time the Falcons go home, they wipe the floor with their opponent and then when they hit the road, they become the mop. While that trend will remain this week it will likely change when the Bears show up in Atlanta. The team has made definite progress and there is optimism for the future but the easiest part of the schedule is now over.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan's introduction to the NFL is going to plan - a slow plan that is. Not only have the Falcons lost 9-24 in both of their road games, Ryan passed for exactly 158 yards and no scores in both games. He only has two touchdowns on the year but has started to connect with Roddy White well every week. He just needs to find someone other than White that can contribute.

Running Backs: Rather major difference between Michael Turner at home (45 carries for 324 rushing yards and five touchdowns) and on the road (32 carries for 98 yards). Jerious Norwood has followed the same track as Turner though he broke one run last week in Carolina and ended with 51 yards on three carries. The two easy home games that opened the year gave a false impression of just how good Turner would be in most games but once the rest of the offense catches up to him and makes road opponents respect the pass, there's no reason to expect less than big yardage from Turner no matter where he plays.

Wide Receivers: As stated, Roddy White has gained chemistry and trust from Ryan and has at least 90 yards in each of the last two games. No other Falcons receiver has turned in more than 45 yards in any game other than Michael Jenkins' 62 yard catch and score in week one. Jenkins only had five catches for 51 yards over the next three weeks.

Laurent Robinson is out indefinitely with a sprained left knee so Brian Finneran is expected to get playing time. But other than Roddy White, it just doesn't matter with this unit and that is not lost on the opposing defenses.

Tight Ends: Never more than one catch per game. Ranked 32nd in the league.

Match Against the Defense: The Packers have been surprisingly soft against the run this year and allowed three rusher to top 100 yards and four different players to rush in a score. This bodes well for Turner because even if the Falcons fall hopelessly behind, they will continue to run the ball since it is as effective as most passes. Turner won't have a monster game here but he could turn in a much better game than it may seem. The Packers just lost run-stopper Cullen Jenkins which also helps Turner.

Ryan faces a secondary that has always allowed at least one passing score per game. I would not expect a touchdown here but he could get up to 200 passing yards if there is enough trash time that the Packers let them throw short passes.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 31 2 19 32 8 16
Preventing Fantasy Points    GB 18 21 14 26 28 17

Green Bay Packers (2-2)
Homefield: Lambeau Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 MIN 24-19 -3 38.5
2 @DET 48-25 -3 45
3 DAL 16-27 +3 51
4 @TB 21-30 +1.5 43
5 ATL - Open -
6 @SEA - - -
7 IND - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 @TEN - - -
10 @MIN - - -
11 CHI - - -
12 @NO - - -
13 CAR - - -
14 HOU - - -
15 @JAX - - -
16 @CHI - - -
17 DET - - -
GB vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers GTD   160,1
RB Ryan Grant 110,1 10  
TE Donald Lee   20  
WR Donald Driver   40  
WR Greg Jennings   80,1  
WR Jordy Nelson   20  
PK Mason Crosby 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: After two wins to open the season, running into Dallas and the Buccaneers have left the Packers at 2-2 but tied for the division lead with the Bears.This week should be as easy as it gets for the Packers this year and since Aaron Rodgers is nursing a sprained throwing shoulder, it may be a good thing. Of course the major downside of Rodgers potentially missing this week is having to hear announcers blather on about "...250 starts and this kid cannot make it five weeks?"

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers suffered a sprained shoulder last week in Tampa Bay and while he has stated that he will play this week, it is ultimately not his decision to make. Rodgers has been good in his four starts this year and it will be a negative for the Packers to turn to the rookie Matt Flynn if Rodgers is counted out. But either way, the Packers can win this game this week. The only question is how close the score is.

I will assume a slightly limited Rodgers plays this week if only to stop all those #4 jerseys in the stand from calling him a "wuss".

Running Backs: This game, this opportunity is critical for Ryan Grant. After an explosive second half of the 2007 season, Grant has nursed a hamstring strain since training camp that is expected to be healed now. He has not been given more than 15 carries in a game this year after averaging around 20 runs for 97 yards per game last season. Grant had scored in seven straight games but has yet to get near the endzone.

The visiting Falcons represent the perfect game to have Grant show that he can return to the form of last year. Right now he has 55 carries on the season for only 186 yards - a 3.4 yard average. He was averaging about 5.1 carries last year and scoring like there was no tomorrow. This week is the perfect setup for Grant to have a good game. If this was last year, he would have a monster week. If he does not run well and you own him - trade him for whatever you can get.

Wide Receivers: The big question here is if Rodgers plays or not. Greg Jennings is currently on a pace to gain 1928 receiving yards this year (won't happen but he's certainly on the right path). Like White for the Falcons, no other wideout here really matters. Unlike White for the Falcons, Jennings matters a great deal. The Packers are likely to run the ball more this week given the need to either protect Rodgers from unnecessary hits or to protect Flynn from throwing interceptions. Either way, it looks like a lower week for the receivers here unless Rodgers makes a speedy recovery.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value anymore. And not one score either.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons have allowed five rushing scores already this year and two runners have topped 100 rushing yards. This is the place where Grant should top 100 yards and score at least once. The Falcons are giving up almost five yards per carry to opponents and this game is on the road.

A healthy Rodgers could have some fun here just as Delhomme did last week. But at best he is not healthy and at worst he may not play. I will project mediocre numbers for a limited Rodgers and adjust them later in the week when there is more information and he has practiced (or not). So far even Tyler Thigpen had a touchdown against the Falcons so at worst Flynn gets his first NFL score.

Gaining Fantasy Points GB 6 31 5 28 16 1
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 17 22 19 23 2 3

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