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

Prediction: ATL 23, NO 27

Update: The suspension of Deuce McAllister has been postponed by a judge and he can play this week but he has not been practicing and is not in the game plan. He'll likely be a healthy scratch or remain on the sideline since Pierre Thomas has already passed him on the depth chart.

The Falcons won 34-20 when they hosted the Saints in week ten and at 8-4 they remain one game behind both the Buccaneers and Panthers in the NFC South. Winning in San Diego last week was impressive and gives them a 3-3 record on the road. The Saints dropped a close one in Tampa Bay and with that likely ended their playoff hopes since the NFC has plenty of better records to take up a wildcard. But the Saints are back at home where they are 5-1 and a far better team than the 1-5 version away from home.

Atlanta Falcons (8-4)
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 22-16 +5 49
14 @NO - +3 52
15 TB - - -
16 @MIN - - -
17 STL - - -
ATL @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     280,2
RB Michael Turner 80 10  
RB Jerious Norwood 20 30  
WR Michael Jenkins   80,1  
WR Roddy White   100,1  
WR Harry Douglas   50  
PK Jason Elam 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The season was marked a success long ago but traveling to San Diego and pulling out a win over a very desperate team at home was a major coup for the franchise and keeps the Falcons in the race for the division title after splitting games with the Panthers and having a chance to even up with the Buccaneers in week 15. It would be easy enough to dismiss the Falcons on the road again but this team has only been favored in four games this year.

Quarterback: After skipping two scoreless weeks, Matt Ryan is back on the two touchdown wagon again though he fell to only 207 yards in San Diego after spending almost every one of the last six weeks over 250 passing yards. This rematch with the Saints should be profitable for Ryan since he passed for 248 yards and two scores against the Saints back in week ten..

Running Backs: Michael Turner gained 96 yards on 27 carries and scored once against the Saints this season. He has 11 touchdowns so far and six games over 100 rushing yards including the two most recent. Turner is not merely a good runner at home either, he has three of his biggest yardage games on the road though he has scored only once away from Atlanta. This week should give him an excellent chance for his second score.

Turner already has a career year going with 1208 rushing yards to rank 3rd in the NFL and his 282 carries rank as best in the league.

Wide Receivers: Hard to imagine that a rebuilding team starting a rookie quarterback would feature a receiver that leads the league in yardage with 1085 but Roddy White has only improved this year. He only has six touchdowns and just one in the last five weeks but he's a lock for 70 yards per week and a great bet to top 100 yards as he has six times already. The Ryan-White connection could last for literally a decade if it works out that way.

White caught five passes for 68 yards and a score against the Saints earlier this year. Michael Jenkins had six receptions for 72 yards in his high game so far. Slot receiver Harry Douglas is also starting to show up more and had his first receiving score last week and a rushing touchdown in week 12. The unit only gets better.

Tight Ends: While the position rarely accounts for more than a catch or two and negligible yardage, Justin Peele had his second touchdown of the year last week.

Match Against the Defense: There has been almost no changes in the Saints defense from just a month ago when these teams last played though the Saints will play better at home. They have only allowed one rushing touchdown in New Orleans and most runners end up with reasonable yards but no score. Turner's performance last time will probably be tempered with a few less yards and no score.

Ryan goes against a secondary that allowed him two scores as do virtually all opponents when they play the visiting Saints. Expect slightly better passing numbers this time with the trio of wideouts likely to do a little more. White is always most likely to score but Jenkins has a great chance here as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 23 3 7 30 6 21
Preventing Fantasy Points    NO 28 17 25 12 27 12

New Orleans Saints (6-6)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 TB 24-20 -3.5


2 @WAS 24-29 +1 42.5
3 @DEN 32-34 +5.5 51.5
4 SF 31-17 -6 48.5
5 MIN 27-30 -3 47
6 OAK 34-3 -7.5 47.5
7 @CAR 7-30 +3 44
8 SD 37-32 +3.5 47
9 BYE - - -
10 @ATL 20-34 PK 50
11 @KC 30-20 -5.5 51
12 GB 51-29 -1 51.5
13 @TB 20-23 +3.5 48
14 ATL - -3 52
15 @CHI - - -
16 @DET - - -
17 CAR - - -
NO vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     340,3
RB Reggie Bush 30 40  
RB Pierre Thomas 60 10  
TE Jeremy Shockey   50  
WR Marques Colston   100,1  
WR Devery Henderson   40,1  
WR Lance Moore   90,1  
PK Garrett Hartley 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The loss to the Bucs was a heartbreaker since it signaled the inevitable - the Saints won't make the playoffs. The offense continues to shine and be eclipsed by how bad the defense is in half the game so far. But the Saints still have a good shot at a .500 season and maybe even a winning record with some luck. All you need to know though is that in week 16 during fantasy playoffs, the Saints #1 passing offense will be playing in Detroit.

Quarterback: Let's see, Drew Brees is #1 in the NFL with 3870 passing yards, tied with Warner for #1 with 24 touchdown passes and is still on pace for 5160 passing yards for the season which would shatter Marino's old record. That probably won't happen but of the four remaining games, three are inside a dome and only one (Chicago) has a chance for any bad weather. Brees could set a new record this year and this week should help since he passed for 422 yards and two scores in Atlanta this year.

Running Backs: Reggie Bush returned after missing four games and only had three runs for no gain and then caught just five of the ten passes thrown to him for 32 yards in Tampa Bay. He looked healthy on several screen plays but then did not play in the second half. His workload will be increasing with each game but he is not jumping back into the 20 touches per game he had prior to the knee injury.

Pierre Thomas continues to figure in and had a touchdown on a pass for the first time. The Saints have lost Deuce McAllister and Thomas is keeping his role as the short yardage and goal line back with enough carries to be the primary runner. Thomas had well over 100 yards and scored in the two previous games without Bush there but will see enough lost carries and catches going to Bush to make him a decent fantasy start only in the easier matchups. Until Bush gets back to form, these runners are going to decrease each other and prevent the Saints from featuring a great fantasy back.

Bush did not play in the previous meeting with the Falcons and the Saints as a team only rushed for 65 yards on 14 carries.

Wide Receivers: As any Marques Colston owner can attest, it has not been a kind year but it is finally getting better (and far too late to matter). Colston now has two 100 yard games on the year but still only has one touchdown on his only catch against the Packers. And Colston's two decent yardage games were on the road this year which included when he recorded seven receptions for 140 yards in Atlanta.

Lance Moore had six receptions for 76 yards in the previous matchup with the Falcons and has clearly become the primary wideout in this offense with a score in five straight games. And the most passes that he has been thrown in a single game was 13 in Atlanta a month ago. The wideouts have fared very well against the Falcons so far and back at home should be even better..

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey remains solid at around 50 yards in most games and yet he still has not scored for the Saints yet. He only had two catches for 16 yards in Atlanta.

Match Against the Defense: The difference now from four weeks ago is that Reggie Bush is back though not at full strength or normal workload. The Falcons will give up rushing scores that could favor Thomas this week but the yardage will remain low enough to make neither Bush or Thomas as attractive a fantasy play as playing the Falcons would seem to suggest. This would normally be a great spot to see Bush go nuts with receptions and could happen but should not be strongly relied on happening yet. Playing in Tampa Bay last week is always a tough venue and depresses numbers but Bush is not healthy enough yet and that remains the primary limitation.

Brees lit up the Falcons last time for a season high 422 yards so expect something north of 300 as the baseline here with no less than two scores and more likely three. This should be one of the shootouts of the weekend and involve the wideouts primarily.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 6 2 4 18 17
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 21 20 15 27 3 2

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