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

Prediction: DEN 27, ATL 31

Update: The Denver backfield is no more clear other than Selvin Young is not going to play because of his groin strain that kept him out of practice this week. That means that Peyton Hillis will most likely be the primary carrier if you had to have a Denver back in this game. Recently re-signed Tatum Bell could figure in and even P.J. Pope could play but this should mainly be for Hillis. Shanahan has been positive about Bell but it is too early to expect anything from him. Tony Scheffler is probable and will play though he is still not 100% because of his groin. Then again, he wasn't last week and had a great game.

One word of caution - Jason Elam is considered questionable and has missed two days of practice but so far they have not signed another kicker. If you intend on using Elam, make sure they do not sign a kicker on Saturday or bring one on Sunday.

The enigmatic Broncos come off their improbable come back win over the Browns and at 5-4 are alone atop the AFC West (though that would be the cellar in the AFC East or NFC East). The Broncos are 2-2 in road games and come to Atlanta where the Falcons are a remarkable 4-0 at home. The 6-3 Falcons need this game to stay just one game behind the Panthers.

Denver Broncos (5-4)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 41-14 -3 41.5
2 SD 39-38 +1.5 45.5
3 NO 34-32 -5.5 51.5
4 @KC 19-33 -9.5 46.5
5 TB 16-13 -3 48
6 JAX 17-24 -3.5 48
7 @NE 7-41 +3 46.5
8 BYE - - -
9 MIA 17-26 -3 49
10 @CLE 34-30 +3 46
11 @ATL - +5.5 51
12 OAK - - -
13 @NYJ - - -
14 KC - - -
15 @CAR - - -
16 BUF - - -
17 @SD - - -
DEN at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     310,3
RB Peyton Hillis 40    
TE Tony Scheffler   60,1  
WR Eddie Royal   90,1  
WR Brandon Stokley   30  
WR Brandon Marshall   110,1  
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The rushing game in Denver has long been indecipherable but now there's no telling which players are there in a given week. At least central to it all is Jay Cutler throwing like a mad man while Brandon Marshall catches at least several of the dozens of passes sent his way. The loss of Champ Bailey means this was a bad defense that now will promote a shootout and that can only be a great thing for fantasy owners.

Quarterback: Though it took a while to get started last week, Jay Cutler ended with a career best 447 passing yards and three scores which makes him #2 in the league with 18 passing touchdowns. Cutler started the year on fire and then cooled for a month before catching white hot again in these last two weeks. A lack of a credible ground game and a declining defense will only promote more passing in the future.

Running Backs: The revolving door in the backfield is still spinning and currently the depth chart has Selvin Young with a bad groin, Peyton Hillis who is a fullback, P. J. Pope who is always around and yet never plays, Alex Haynes the free agent and now Tatum Bell is back because no one wanted him except for a desperate Denver team.

So Young is still too injured to consider and therefore Hillis is the most likely player to get carries this week but Bell could show up for what could be nothing or significant carries. It is all a mess that hopefully starts to untangle this weekend until the next Denver player heads for injured reserve. I am projecting for Hillis to play but that is with almost no confidence. There is just no telling now if even by gametime.

Wide Receivers: The nice thing about having a quarterback throw for 754 yards in just two games - someone has to catch those and run. The last two weeks has been a big time for Eddie Royal who scored both weeks and had a career best 164 yards last week. The never ending quest to blot out the sun with passes to Brandon Marshall continues and he has had a mere 51 passes thrown to him over the last four games. But he's still dropping passes and has not been over 100 yards since week three. His score in Cleveland on Sunday was his first in five games.

No other wideout here really matters other than Brandon Stokley with the rare touchdown catch.

Tight Ends: With no real running backs in the game last week the Broncos went to an empty backfield formation and used two tight ends. That resulted in Tony Scheffler catching four passes for 92 yards in his first game in four weeks. And Daniel Graham had three catches for 50 yards and a score. Even Nate Jackson had 36 yards on three receptions. If no running back emerges quickly, the Broncos could use the formation again.

Match Against the Defense: The Atlanta defense has been about average against the run but the Broncos are bringing waiver wire scrapings to the game and should not be relied on this week to produce any reliable fantasy rushing yards or scores. Where this game takes off and has some fun is with the pass since even at home the Falcons just gave up 422 yards and two scores to Drew Brees last week. The Saints and Broncos have a number of similarities too.

Look for a very healthy game from Cutler this week with at least two scores if not three that will spread out over wideouts and tight ends. This could end up like the Cleveland game in some ways so look for Marshall to finally top 100 yards again and even Royal could come close as well. The difference maker this week will be how well Michael Turner runs and controls the clock. With any luck, even he won't keep this game from exploding.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 2 24 2 1 11 28
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 25 18 19 26 2 2

Atlanta Falcons (6-3)
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 24-0 -3 41
10 NO 34-20 PK 50
11 DEN - -5.5 51
12 CAR - - -
13 @SD - - -
14 @NO - - -
15 TB - - -
16 @MIN - - -
17 STL - - -
ATL vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     250,2
RB Michael Turner 130,2 10  
RB Jerious Norwood 20 40,1  
TE Ben Hartsock   10  
WR Michael Jenkins   70  
WR Roddy White   80,1  
WR Harry Douglas   20  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Falcons are 6-3 and one game out of first place in the NFC South. The remaining schedule appears tough but so far the Falcons have exceeded every expectation so how far they can go this year remains to be even guessed. But regardless of what happens the rest of the way, this is the most exciting and productive Atlanta team in many years and actually can enter into the offseason looking for whatever they want, not just what they need.

Quarterback: It is not supposed to be this easy. The rookie Matt Ryan has thrown for two scores in each of the last three games and now has 11 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He already has a 300 yard game. He has been over 220 passing yards in each of the last four games. This kid is not just for real. He is unreal. Them's Peyton Manning sort of rookie numbers only without all the interceptions.

Running Backs: Michael Turner is second only to Adrian Peterson with 203 carries on the season and his 890 yards ranks third best in the league. Turner has been productive to be sure but also a bit inconsistent but it is an easy enough formula to understand. When the Falcons play an average or worse defense, Turner usually goes off for big points. Against the toughest of opponents, he only has marginal numbers. And this week, the Broncos come to town. Cha-ching...

Jerious Norwood has also picked up the pace the last couple of games with over 80 total yards in each and a score in both. Norwood's speed provides a deadly complement for Tuner's bruising style.

Wide Receivers: The Roddy White Experience continues to be the main ride here with six touchdowns on the season and four games over 100 yards. White has tailed off a bit in the last two games from his monster numbers but remains a quality WR1 that should re-ignite this week with the Broncos showing up.

MIchael Jenkins has slowly been getting more and more action which impacts White to some degree. Jenkins has three scores on the year and has been above 50 yards in each of the last four games with his 72 yards a season high just last week.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: There is no doubt that the Falcons intend on running Turner and Norwood as much as possible this week to keep Cutler on the sideline. This should be a very big game for Turner against one of the worst rush defenses in the league. Expect high yardage and at least one score if not two. Norwood will also factor in.

Ryan goes against a very soft secondary that has allowed two or more scores to most road opponents. Expect two at most that will favor White and Jenkins this week. The probable absence of Champ Bailey will be felt and the Broncos could stick Dre Bly on White no matter what as they did with Braylon Edwards last week but that would leave Jenkins open for big gains. Plus White has never had the problems with drops that Edwards has.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 22 4 8 29 4 18
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 26 30 14 31 28 21

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