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

Prediction: TB 16, CAR 20

Here is one great Monday night game, at least in the NFL sense. The Bucs and Panthers are both locked at 9-3 and with the Falcons at 8-4 and nipping at their heels there is no room for error. Back in week six the Buccaneers won 27-3 and the Panthers have to win this one since they have the tougher final schedule that includes a road trip to NY to face the Giants (but maybe they will not care in week 16?). The Buccaneers are 6-0 at home but only 3-3 on the road. The Panthers are 6-0 at home as well.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NO 20-24 +3.5


2 ATL 24-9 -8 38.5
3 @CHI 27-24 +3 35.5
4 GB 30-21 -1.5 43
5 @DEN 13-16 +3 48
6 CAR 27-3 -1.5 36.5
7 SEA 20-10 -11 39
8 @DAL 9-13 +2 42
9 @KC 30-27 -8.5 37.5
10 BYE - - -
11 MIN 19-13 -4 39.5
12 @DET 38-20 -8.5 41
13 NO 23-20 -3.5 48
14 @CAR - +3 38
15 @ATL - - -
16 SD - - -
17 OAK - - -
TB @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia     190,1
RB Warrick Dunn 50 20  
RB Carnell Williams 40 10  
TE Jerramy Stevens   20,1  
WR Michael Clayton   30  
WR Ike Hilliard   40  
WR Antonio Bryant   70  
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: A win here does not wrap up the division but it makes it close. But the Buccaneers have been locked into being a home team this year and yet only a kind schedule allowed them the wins in Kansas City and Detroit. The defense remains a team strength that weakens away from Tampa Bay and even after this game there is a trip to Atlanta looming which is not the easy win we all envisioned six months ago. The final two weeks - there is a cakewalk but the Buccaneers have two tough matchups to get there. If Tampa Bay loses here, it could end up making the division head into tie breakers after week 17 to get a winner.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia continues his campaign to throw just one touchdown per week and after nine starts he has eight touchdowns and only one interception in the last seven games. He had a very standard game when he a passed for 173 yards and one touchdown against the visiting Panthers back in week six. No mistakes and only a few scores.

Running Backs: Like without Earnest Graham had Warrick Dunn rushing for 90 yards on 17 carries and scoring once in Detroit while home against the Saints only produced 74 yards on 22 carries and no catches in that game. Complicating the backfield is that Carnell Williams is back on the field and after gaining 27 yards on 16 runs in Detroit, he scored once against the Saints with four carries for 20 yards.

HC Jon Gruden says he wants to get Williams more involved but all that will do is decrease what Dunn could accomplish if left alone. I will project for both players but how the sharing occurs is not yet known. Carnell only had five carries last week.

Dunn gained 115 yards on 22 carries against the Panthers this year.

Wide Receivers: The wide receivers constantly shrink more and more into Antonio Bryant and a smattering of players with a catch or two each week. Joey Galloway is back but not catching any passes and Ike Hilliard came off his touchdown and 51 yards in week 12 to having no catches against the Saints which is almost hard to do. The most consistent receiver of them all is Michael Clayton because he never scores and always has around 20 to 30 yards per week. There is just no reliable fantasy value on this team outside of Bryant

No wideout had more than 29 receiving yards against the Panther this season.

Tight Ends: Jerramy Stevens has been the primary tight end for the last three weeks and had 134 yards on ten catches and one score in that time compared to the four catches for 51 yards by Alex Smith. It still is not reliable enough to warrant a fantasy start but Stevens could be making a case for staying next year with a larger role.

Smith had the only score of the previous meeting while catching three passes for 43 yards as the leading receiver.

Match Against the Defense: The Bucs won this game earlier this year but what is different now? For one, the Panthers are 6-0 at home like the Bucs and are a much better team there. The Panthers are top ten against the run when in Carolina so expect only moderate yardage here and no score. The workload will be split between Williams and Dunn making them an even less attractive start.

Garcia faces a secondary that has only allowed the passing scores by visiting quarterbacks. Look for one score here that more likely ends up with a tight end like Smith or Stevens than with a wideout since only Bryant has mattered lately anyway. This should be low scoring game that won't ask Garcia to throw too much.

Gaining Fantasy Points TB 22 16 25 5 2 2
Preventing Fantasy Points    CAR 5 11 8 19 9 4

Carolina Panthers (9-3)
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SD 26-24 +9 42
2 CHI 20-17 -3 37
3 @MIN 10-20 +3.5 37
4 ATL 24-9 -7 39.5
5 KC 34-0 -9.5 38.5
6 @TB 3-27 +1.5 36.5
7 NO 30-7 -3 44
8 ARZ 27-23 -4.5 43.5
9 BYE - - -
10 @OAK 17-6 -9 38
11 DET 31-22 -14 39.5
12 @ATL 28-45 +1 42.5
13 @GB 35-31 +3 43
14 TB - -3 38
15 DEN - - -
16 @NYG - - -
17 @NO - - -
CAR vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     240,2
RB Jonathan Stewart 20 10  
RB DeAngelo Williams 60 20,1  
TE Dante Rosario   10  
WR Steve Smith   100,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   70  
WR D.J. Hackett   20  
PK John Kasay 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Nice win in Green Bay almost takes away the sting of getting spanked in Atlanta and the Panthers have to win this home game to hope to take the division. The game against the Giants is likely a loss and even playing in New Orleans to end the year is no lock.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme passed for 242 yards in Tampa Bay but had three interceptions in the game. He has scored in every game since that week six meeting though and even taken to rushing in a score for the last two games. The passing yardage is waning significantly in recent weeks but only because the rushing game has been so effective and that will be challenged this week. Delhomme just had to play error free ball this week and the Panthers can take this game.

Running Backs: While Jonathan Stewart was healing his toe, DeAngelo Williams was busy cranking out the yards and scores. Williams not gets around 20 carries in most games and his career best four scores last week gives him 11 touchdowns on the year. He failed to extend his four game streak of 100 rushing yards but he scored four times last week - what more could you want? He's become an every week fantasy starter and sent Stewart to the bench in every league.

Stewart only had five touches each in the last two games. His role doesn't increase until the game is well in hand and that doesn't happen much with the Buccaneers.

Williams only gained 27 yards on 11 carries in Tampa Bay. Stewart only gained 12 yards on six carries.

Wide Receivers: Of course two of those one-yard touchdowns that Williams scored last week were when Steve Smith had a long catch end on the one-yard line. Smith had 105 yards against the Packers and has been fantasy gold since week three for yardage and catches other than the one Oakland game. Smith only has three touchdowns on the year though thanks to that improved rushing attack.

Muhsin Muhammad continues to crank out around 50 yards in most games with the occasional touchdown.

Smith had six receptions for 112 yards in Tampa Bay while Muhammad collected four catches for 68 yards.

Tight Ends: Minimal fantasy value. Dante Rosario caught three passes for 28 yards against the Buccaneers this year.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers are great against the run and have allowed only one rushing touchdown this year. Just one. The Panthers could hardly run at all in the first meeting but should be improved in this go around and I like the chance that Williams gets a score as a receiver which he has done twice before this year.

Delhomme goes against a secondary that has always allowed at least one passing score per game but never more than two and typically with sub-200 yardage. I like the two scores here that end up with Williams and Smith who still can turn in a big game here.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 26 7 16 26 17 19
Preventing Fantasy Points    TB 7 3 11 4 15 15

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