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

Prediction: ATL 20, OAK 23

Update: Darren McFadden is listed as doubtful this week and did not practice at all - a very bad sign for owners. Justin Fargas and Michael Bush will take the start this week and McFadden's rookie season is just swirling down the toilet at this rate.

An interesting game between two rising teams. The Falcons are only 1-3 on the road this year but at 4-3 are just a game and a half out of first place in the NFC South. The Raiders remain out of the AFC West cellar thanks to the Chiefs but are only 1-2 at home this season. One key here - if you can call the Packers game as a trap, then the Falcons have not scored well on the road this year.

Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
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 27-24 +3 41
6 CHI 22-20 +2.5 43.5
7 BYE - - -
8 @PHI 14-27 +8.5 46.5
9 @OAK - -3 41
10 NO - - -
11 DEN - - -
12 CAR - - -
13 @SD - - -
14 @NO - - -
15 TB - - -
16 @MIN - - -
17 STL - - -
ATL at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     170,1
RB Michael Turner 90,1    
WR Michael Jenkins   40  
WR Roddy White   80,1  
WR Harry Douglas   40  
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The loss in Philly doesn't help the playoff aspirations of the Falcons but who would have though at midseason they would have even a remote possibility at post season play? Matt Ryan keeps on getting better and Michael Turner is a beast at least at home and in easier games. The defense has been underrated as well for a team expected to the worst in the NFC South this season. After this week comes a three game stretch at home where they can make up some ground, particularly with week 12 when the Panthers come calling.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan remains a strong contender for Rookie of the Year and he's still getting better each week. These last three games have seen Ryan post five passing scores for a total of seven touchdowns on the year against only five interceptions - that is phenomenal for a rookie. Ryan passed for 301 yards against the Bears and then had 270 yards in Philly last week. He's helped Roddy White to be the #3 NFL wideout for passing yardage and he is tied for #2 with five touchdowns. Imagine what Ryan will be like once he gets the hang of being an NFL quarterback.

Running Backs: Facing good defenses of the Bears and Eagles meant that Michael Turner only had 54 and 58 rushing yards the last couple of weeks and did not score. He's had three monster games and four efforts of around 50 yards. But one of those big games came on the road in Green Bay and Turner has gone two games without a nice effort for the first time.

Jerious Norwood had five catches for 55 yards last week but that was highly unusual for a player that normally only has about two catches per week and maybe 20 or 30 yards.

Wide Receivers: As mentioned, Roddy White has been nearly unstoppable despite playing with a rookie quarterback. He has posted over 110 yards in four of the last five games with at least one touchdown in each. The worst he has done since week two is 90 yards and he is averaging over eight catches per game for the last month. No other Falcons wideout has any fantasy value and there has only been one passing touchdown that was not caught by White.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: No doubt that Michael Turner is looking forward to this game since the Raiders have allowed the last two opposing runners in Oakland to gain over 100 rushing yards. They have also given up ten 12 touchdowns to running backs already and the Falcons would love nothing more than to grind Turner all game. Look for one score and at least moderate yardage.

Ryan faces a secondary that almost always allows a touchdown and so far no team has covered Roddy White despite his being the only weapon the Falcons have on a pass play. Until another wideout steps up, White has to be considered the most likely to score here.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 24 9 9 31 3 29
Preventing Fantasy Points    OAK 25 27 9 27 16 11

Oakland Raiders (2-5)
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DEN 14-41 +3 41.5
2 @KC 23-8 +4 34.5
3 @BUF 23-24 +9.5 36.5
4 SD 18-28 +7 46
5 BYE - - -
6 @NO 3-34 +7.5 47.5
7 NYJ 16-13 +3 42.5
8 @BAL 10-29 +7 36
9 ATL - +3 41
10 CAR - - -
11 @MIA - - -
12 @DEN - - -
13 KC - - -
14 @SD - - -
15 NE - - -
16 HOU - - -
17 @TB - - -
OAK vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB JaMarcus Russell     180,1
RB Michael Bush 20,1    
RB Justin Fargas 80 20  
TE Zach Miller   60,1  
WR Javon Walker   30  
WR Chaz Schilens   40  
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins   20  
PK Sebastian Janikowski 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Raiders were brutalized by the Ravens last week but won their last home game and are a much better team in Oakland than away. Losing Darren McFadden to a toe injury has cut deeply into this offense but at least the passing game is starting to come around more and Justin Fargas and Michael Bush are there to take up the slack. This week could well be the easiest game left on the schedule and one that the Raiders need to take advantage of even though they have not been favored in any game this year.

Quarterback: JaMarcus Russell continues to improve and had 228 yards and one score in Baltimore as an achievement. He only has six passing scores on the year but four of them came in home games. The offense has been playing around with the starting receivers and had a minor positive when Chaz Schilens posted 76 yards last week, But overall this still remains a below average passing attack that often ends up using tight ends or running backs instead of wide receivers.

Running Backs: Darren McFadden suffered a setback last week with his turf toe and was made inactive in Baltimore. Since his scintillating show in week two when he ran for 164 yards and then injured himself, McFadden has remained below 45 rushing yards every week and now cannot even play. I will assume that McFadden is out again and update as warranted.

Justin Fargas has not had the same success as last year and still have not scored but should have a better time this week. His best two games have been at home and he should have the volume of carries this week to allow for at least a decent game. That will be limited to how much the Raiders opt to use Michael Bush who has been mostly on the bench the last two weeks.

Wide Receivers: The reality is that there is not a shred of reliable fantasy value in any of these wideouts. After Javon Walker finally had a decent game in week seven, he followed that up with just 28 yards on two catches against the Ravens. Ronald Curry has taken a major tumble from favor and allowed Chaz Schilens to get the start and produce 76 yards on three catches last week. That was the second most productive showing by a Raider's wideout this year.

It is just a rarity that any of these wide receivers have more than 35 yards in any game and even more unusual that they could do it two weeks in a row.

Tight Ends: The good news is that Zach Miller has been at or above 50 yards in each of the last four games as Russell's preferred target. Miller only has one score on the year but is developing into a very good tight end.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons regularly give up over 100 rushing yards per game and that should allow Fargas to have at least a moderate showing here with a great chance for Michael Bush to bang in one score.

Russell goes against a secondary that had always allowed at least one passing score each week until last Sunday when the Eagles let Westbrook run all over them instead. Look for at least one passing score that should strongly favor Miller.

Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 27 22 29 16 19 18
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 24 23 23 28 4 3

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