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

Prediction: ATL 23, SD 27

Update: The Falcons have Roddy White listed as questionable but he practiced fully all week and will play as he has the last couple of weeks. Jason Elam is also bothered by his hip and was limited in practice this week but he's a kicker and expected to still play. No changes needed for the projections.

Here is a great game between the most surprising team and the most disappointing team. The 7-4 Falcons are just one game out of the NFC South lead and are 2-3 on the road. The 4-7 Chargers are only two games out of the lead in the AFC West and only 3-2 at home. This should be a fascinating game too since the Falcons bring their franchise runner of Michael Turner who may be able to give Tomlinson some tips on how to score and how to break 100 rushing yards in a single game. Seems LT has forgotten.

Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
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 20-24 -5.5 51
12 CAR 45-28 -1 42.5
13 @SD - +5 49
14 @NO - - -
15 TB - - -
16 @MIN - - -
17 STL - - -
ATL @ SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     250,2
RB Michael Turner 100    
TE Ben Hartsock   10  
WR Michael Jenkins   60,1  
WR Roddy White   100,1  
WR Harry Douglas   60  
PK Jason Elam 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: If the Falcons were to never win another game this year (which is impossible with the Rams in week 17) it would still be a wildly successful first year for HC Mike Smith and the entire Falcons organization. The rest of the schedule will be daunting to be sure with three road games and a home stand against the Buccaneers. But each time we figure the Falcons cannot surprise us any further, they mop up the Superdome with the division leading Panthers.

Quarterback: After a nice stretch of double scores in four of five weeks, Matt Ryan hasn't thrown a touchdown in two weeks. Of course Michael Turner had six touchdowns in those pair of games which had a bit to do with it. And Ryan still threw for around 250 yards in each game. One other important fact - of the four double scores that Ryan has done in games, three of them happened in the last three road games. When Turner is more challenged away from Atlanta, Ryan steps up his production.

Running Backs: Michael Turner heads back to his original team and I cannot help myself. Figure you will see this graphic on TV anyway:

Rushing Tomlinson Turner
Yards 770 1088
Yard Rank 13th 3rd
TDs 5 13
TD Rank T - 21st 1st




Maybe they let... the wrong... guy.... go.... GASP!

Imagine the money we could have made, had we known...

More serious - of the 13 touchdowns scored by Turner, he only has one in a road game. He'll be plenty motivated this week.

Wide Receivers: These last two weeks with Turner going nuts has left Roddy White out of the endzone but he scored in six of the seven previous games and topped 100 yards five times already. His best games have come on the road as well.

Michael Jenkins plods along with around 50 or 60 yards per week but he almost never has less. And last week introduced the NFL to the rookie Harry Douglas who returned a punt for a score, ran in another touchdown and had 92 yards on four receptions. Douglas has only mattered in two games but last week and against Chicago both had him with over 90 receiving yards. He just needs the opposing defense to be good at covering White and Jenkins so that Ryan can read down to him.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: How great is this for Matt Ryan? The rookie goes against the #32 defense against quarterbacks and the Chargers are going to be worrying more about Michael Turner coming back to haunt them. The Chargers rushing defense at home has been far better than on the road and only one runner has scored in San Diego and none have gained more than 86 rushing yards. Turner will want to shine and he should have a good game here but probably not a big one.

Ryan faces a secondary that has been burned all year long and that has been instrumental in why the Chargers are only 4-7. Expect to see Ryan with solid yardage and at least two scores here. The success of Turner will impact this greatly but I like both White (naturally) and Jenkins to score. The Chargers are #32 against tight ends, but the Falcons really never use them for more than blocking.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 23 2 8 31 6 20
Preventing Fantasy Points    SD 32 14 22 32 20 9

San Diego Chargers (4-7)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 24-26 -9 42
2 @DEN 38-39 -1.5 45.5
3 NYJ 48-29 -9 44
4 @OAK 28-18 -7 46
5 @MIA 10-17 -6.5 45.5
6 NE 30-10 -6 44.5
7 @BUF 14-23 -1 46.5
8 @NO 32-37 -3.5 47
9 BYE - - -
10 KC 20-19 -15 48
11 @PIT 10-11 +4 43
12 IND 20-23 -3 49.5
13 ATL - -5 49
14 OAK - - -
15 @KC - - -
16 @TB - - -
17 DEN - - -
SD vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     300,3
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 80 30  
TE Antonio Gates   70,1  
WR Vincent Jackson   80.1  
WR Malcolm Floyd   40  
WR Chris Chambers   60.1  
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Chargers sink to 4-7 after losing to the Steelers by one point and then dropping the Colts game by a last second field goal. It has been that kind of year for the Bolts and the offensive explosion of the early season ha since decreased in the face of some quality defenses. The good news here is that the Chargers still have an excellent shot at ending the season on a hot note and taking down the visiting Broncos in week 17 to win the division. It could actually happen.

Quarterback: In five games played at home, Philip Rivers has never had less than two touchdowns and all but one game had 250+ passing yards. Rivers has always been more productive in San Diego and his 13 touchdowns there are against only three interceptions. Rivers is still formidable in most away games but he has been nothing short of brilliant in each home stand.

Running Backs: It would be a bit more believable if Turner and Tomlinson switched stats. But Ladainian Tomlinson plods along with only two games over 100 yards (and barely) and only three different games with a rushing touchdown. He has scored only once since week four but at least he mixes in around four catches every week for fantasy value. It is nothing like the LT we have known for so long and it doesn't appear likely to improve. Last week against the Sander-less and visiting Colts, Tomlinson had 21 carries for 84 yards and no score. Sort of average really.

Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers has started back slowly since returning in week eight but against the Colts he caught six passes for 61 yards as his best game since back in week two. He has not scored since week five as well and will be looking to get more involved this week.

Vincent Jackson remains the primary wideout with five scores on the season and his most recent being against the Colts. He has been lighter on the yardage though with only one effort over 85 yards this year but he has been the only consistent wideout with around 60 yards in most games.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates was enjoying a strong season with six touchdowns through week ten and most games ending above 50 yards but the last two games have been a death knell for Gates production which fell to only two catches for ten yards in Pittsburgh and then only three catches for 28 yards against the Colts last week. Gates will be looking to get back on the scoreboard this week against a far softer secondary.

Match Against the Defense: Tomlinson should have at least a decent game here against a defense that has allowed 13 rushing scores this year and four runners to exceed 100 rushing yards. Tomlinson has just not been scoring even though his opponents have not always had a great defense. Expect decent yardage here but history says probably no touchdown.

Rivers goes against a soft secondary that has been weakest right where the Chargers live - wideouts and tight ends. I like Rivers to post a very nice game here with around 300 yards and three passing scores unless Tomlinson actually runs one in.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 4 13 15 6 12 23
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 25 20 21 27 2 2

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