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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 13
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thanksgiving
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Monday
Update *

Prediction: ARI 23, PHI 20

The Cardinals are 7-4 and all alone at the top of the NFC West. I mean all alone - the 49ers are in second place at 3-8. An Arizona win and a 49er loss clinches the division for the Cardinals in week 13. But the Cards are only 3-3 on the road and head to Philly where the Eagles 3-2 and more than desperate for a win. But these are two teams headed in very different directions. The Eagles are ripe for a home loss this week hard as it seems to think. The depressed numbers from Westbrook coupled with the McNabb fiasco could end up really hurting the performance this week. No way the Eagles lose to the Cardinals in most scenarios but this one has shook the Eagles up in a fundamental way, The game should go off around 45 degrees and clear skies so weather should not be an issue.

This is the final game on Thanksgiving. Pass the pie and don't be stingy.

Arizona Cardinals (7-4)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SF 23-13 -2.5 41.5
2 MIA 31-10 -7 38.5
3 @WAS 17-24 +3 42
4 @NYJ 35-56 +3 45
5 BUF 41-17 -1 45
6 DAL 30-26 +5 50
7 BYE - - -
8 @CAR 23-27 +4.5 43.5
9 @STL 34-13 -3 49
10 SF 29-24 -9.5 47.5
11 @SEA 26-20 -3.5 47.5
12 NYG 29-37 +3 49
13 @PHI - +3 47
14 STL - - -
15 MIN - - -
16 @NE - - -
17 SEA - - -
ARI at PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     300,2
RB Tim Hightower 30    
TE Leonard Pope   20  
WR Anquan Boldin   90,1  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   120,1  
WR Steve Breaston   60  
PK Neil Rackers 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Cardinals could not hold off the Giants though they did post 29 points on one of the best defenses in the league. The Cardinals are already the elite of their division which is a rather low bar to cross but there is a sense among Cardinals players that this is their year and their shot and they are finally good enough for post season play. The biggest bars to reaching the next level is road wins and this week in Philly and then week 16 at New England will let the Cards know where they stand for January.

Quarterback: Last year it was the Tom Brady and Tony Romo show. This year it is the Drew Brees and Kurt Warner Experience. Warner has passed for 300 yards in five straight games and with seven such games on the season, he's been above 300 yards more than he has been below it. He has also scored in every game this year and his 3506 passing yards are only 68 yards less than league leader Drew Brees. Both quarterbacks are on a pace to break 5000 yards.

One notable here - Warner has passed for over 340 yards in each of his last four road games.

Running Backs: Tim Hightower is not making much difference as a runner with never more than 35 rushing yards in the last three games but Edgerrin James remains out to pasture and at least Hightower is scoring touchdowns. He had two last week against the Giants and had nine on the season. He is a support for the passing game to get short yards and touchdowns. He hasn't even had a catch in the last two weeks.

Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald caught his 400th pass last week and at the age of 25, he is the youngest player in NFL history pass that mark. He also just broke into another big season with 1010 yards on 72 catches this year - second only to Andre Johnson. He's been a little lighter with the scoring with just one touchdown in the last five weeks but his yardage and catches have always been solid and never once has had a bad game.

That is in contrast to Anquan Boldin who has scored in all but two games and his 11 touchdowns lead the league but three full scores. It is a rarity for it to happen to one player and unbelievable to know that both Fitzgerald and Boldin have never had a single bad game this year. Not one. The worst they get is better than most and either player is capable of the monster game at any time.

Throw in Steve Breaston and Jerheme Urban and suddenly Warner is looking better than he ever did in St. Louis.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Eagles have been very good against the run and the Cardinals only use Hightower when they need three yards. Look for him to rush for minimal yardage and not score here.

The whole game revolves around Warner and how well the Eagles can rattle him or rough him up. But they have allowed five quarterbacks to pass for two or more scores and Romo had a 300 yard game and even Matt Ryan passed for 277 yards in Philly with two scores. I like Warner to hit his 300 because they are not going to bother running the ball. And I like two passing scores here and maybe three depending on how the game goes.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 1 19 1 32 8 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    PHI 9 8 8 30 18 19


Philadelphia Eagles (5-5-1))
Homefield: Lincoln Financial Field
Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 STL 38-3 -7 44
2 @DAL 37-41 +7 47
3 PIT 15-6 -3 45
4 @CHI 20-24 -3 45
5 WAS 17-23 -5 43
6 @SF 40-26 -5 43
7 BYE - - -
8 ATL 27-14 -8.5 46.5
9 @SEA 26-7 -6.5 43
10 NYG 31-36 -3 43.5
11 @CIN 13-13 -9 42.5
12 @BAL 7-36 +1 38.5
13 ARZ - -3 47
14 @NYG - - -
15 CLE - - -
16 @WAS - - -
17 DAL - - -
PHI vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb     230,2
RB Brian Westbrook 60 20  
TE L.J. Smith   20  
WR Reggie Brown   20  
WR DeSean Jackson   70,1  
WR Kevin Curtis   40,1  
WR Jason Avant   30  
PK David Akers 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The wheels are wobbling in Philly where they have not won a game since week nine against Seattle. Tying the Bengals was a special treat and then the Ravens dismantled them perhaps forever since it got Donovan McNabb benched. The team since recanted and named him starter this week when someone noted they played only four days later and there was no time to get Kolb up to speed. But the damage is done.

Quarterback: With Donovan McNabb back as starter, it throws an entirely new and hard to estimate quality to this game. When asked how McNabb discovered he was the starter again, he said the janitor told him. Whether or not that is true, the fact is that McNabb knows he is a lame duck that will be traded in the offseason to save over $9 million in salary cap money. It is like parents that know they are going to be divorcing but still going through the motions until the time is right. This could be considered McNabb's audition for the rest of the league but everyone knows him after ten years. He has nothing to prove.

Running Backs: Brian Westbrook has already been held out of practice this week but is expected to play as he has in a vastly less effective manner for the last month. Over the last four games, he has not scored nor has gained more than 61 yards in a game while averaging only three yards per carry. His role as a receiver has also declined to only two or three catches per week for minimal yardage. The helmet looks right and the jersey number matches but it sure hasn't looked like Westbrook in a while.

Wide Receivers: McNabb has spread the ball around to all wide receivers and the best so far remains DeSean Jackson who usually ends up with around 60 yards in most games but only has one touchdown on the season. The Eagles are using literally six wideouts per game so that there is none with enough reliable fantasy value to make him a starter. McNabb can pass for 300 yards and yet still there is no viable numbers from an individual. Now that he has been officially spurned and then asked to step back under center, the effect on this group only makes for even more risk.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith has three scores on the season but rarely more than 30 yards and never more than 39. He has no reliable fantasy value this year but is used every few games for a score.

Match Against the Defense: How this pans out depends on what to believe. Certainly a healthy Westbrook and McNabb vintage 2007 and before could wreak havoc on this defense but Westbrook is clearly playing for the good of the team and not making a big difference. There is no reason to expect more than mediocre numbers has he has done each week for a month,.

Where this turns is where McNabb's head is at and how well the Cardinals play since they should be motivated here in a national game. He can easily win this game if everything goes right but my speculation is that a fundamental change is now obvious and will be a factor for a dysfunctional team with a broken down running back.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 10 20 9 18 7 4
Preventing Fantasy Points    ARI 31 11 28 20 10 15

The Huddle
WEEK 13
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thanksgiving
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Monday
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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