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

Prediction: ATL 17, MIN 27

Update: Gus Frerotte is listed as questionable but the team is going with Jackson as the starter again this week.

Who would have thought this game would have playoff implications? The Falcons are tied with the Cowboys and Buccaneers at 9-5 and cannot afford a loss or wildcard dreams are over. The Falcons are only 3-4 on the road and the Vikings are one game ahead of the Bears for the NFC North title and 5-1 at home. This is also the meeting of the two best running backs in the NFL.

The Vikings opened the 2007 season by beating the visiting Falcons 24-3.

Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
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 25-29 +3 52
15 TB 13-10 -2.5 42
16 @MIN - +3 44
17 STL - - -
ATL @ MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     210,1
RB Michael Turner 90,1    
WR Michael Jenkins   50  
WR Roddy White   100,1  
WR Harry Douglas   40  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Hard to believe the Falcons have already secured a winning record and taking down the Buccaneers last week was a major stride forward. The Falcons have made it through their first season under Mike Smith almost without any injury of note and have been fortunate enough to have the free agent acquisition of the year with Michael Turner. The final week is home against the Rams which means no worse than a 10-6 record.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan comes off his worst game in ten weeks when he only had 206 yards and no scores against the Buccaneers but the Falcons won the game anyway. He has tailed off slightly since week ten in yards and scores but that goes directly into the career year that Michael Turner is creating and the need to pass has been largely absent. Ryan can get the job done, the question is if Turner already has it done before Ryan can get there.

The Falcons passed for 199 yards in Minnesota last year.

Running Backs: Michael Turner has already rushed for 1421 yards and trails only Adrian Peterson - think this game will be a showcase for the rushing elite? Since week ten, Turner has scored in all but one game and had 120 yards in that one anyway. He put his stamp on the NFC South when he crushed the visiting Buccaneers with 32 carries for 152 yards and one score. No argument that he has been far more productive at home than on the road, but he does have three 100+ yard rushing efforts there. The problem is mostly that he has scored 13 times at home and only twice in away games.

Wide Receivers: The negative to all this success by Turner is that Roddy White went from being one of the most productive wideouts and now hasn't scored since week ten. He has recorded three games over the century mark but nary a touchdown. One big positive here - four times he has produced over 100 yards in road games since the rushing attack doesn't work as well. In away games where the Falcons are pressed, White always comes through.

Michael Jenkins plods along with around 50 yards per week and no scores while Harry Douglas shows up about once a month with noticeable play.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: Turner catches a break since the Vikings NT Pat Williams will be out a while with a broken collarbone and that removes the biggest bottleneck from the middle of this defense. The Vikings have yet to allow a 100 yard rusher this year though Forte was close two weeks ago. The Vikes have also allowed three rushing scores. Turner is the #2 back in the league so don't shy away from the matchup. He's been productive for a reason and the Vikes just got worse. I like one score and right around 100 yards. There could be much rushing here and that will serve to speed the game up and result in fewer plays though.

Ryan faces a solid secondary but one that can be beaten. Look for a passing score to Roddy White who should have a good game here. This is the type of situation that White usually excels.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 21 5 7 30 6 25
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 12 3 10 18 12 30

Minnesota Vikings (9-5)
Homefield: Metrodome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @GB 19-24 +3 38.5
2 IND 15-18 +2 43.5
3 CAR 20-10 -3.5 37
4 @TEN 17-30 +3 36
5 @NO 30-27 +3 47
6 DET 12-10 -13.5 47
7 @CHI 41-48 +3 38
8 BYE - - -
9 HOU 28-21 -4.5 47
10 GB 28-27 -2.5 45.5
11 @TB 13-19 +4 39.5
12 @JAX 30-12 +2.5 40
13 CHI 34-14 -3 42
14 @DET 20-16 -9.5 46
15 @ARZ 35-14 +3 48.5
16 ATL - -3 44
17 NYG - - -
MIN vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Tarvaris Jackson     180,1
RB Chester Taylor 30,1 20  
RB Adrian Peterson 120,1 10  
TE Visanthe Shiancoe   10  
WR Bernard Berrian   50,1  
WR Bobby Wade   50  
WR Sidney Rice   10  
PK Ryan Longwell 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Vikings are on a four game winning streak and back at home where they play far better. The final two games are at home and the last week goes against the visiting Giants who may have nothing to play for and are stumbling lately anyway. There is no doubt that Vikes caught a break with the scheduling this year but Adrian Peterson has established himself as the new King of the Hill for running backs and matching that with a defense that has not allowed more than 19 points in the last five weeks and the Vikes are likely hosting a game in the first round of the playoffs.

Quarterback: What is more likely to happen?

A. Wall Street CEO's admit hiding all the money in the closet and return it setting DOW back to 11,000 points.

B. Obama jokingly says he appoints Hillary as President and she immediately barricades herself in the Oval Office.

C. Tarvaris Jackson throws for four touchdowns in a game.

The answer is C. Had I not seen it first, I would have been channel surfing to CNN. Jackson had four scores against the Cardinals last week He had never had more than two scores in a game before. He had only nine passing touchdowns in all of 2007. But Gus gets some rest this week while Jackson tries to figure out how he did that last week. Only 11 completions and 163 yards.

Running Backs: Michael Turner may be one of the big dogs, but he isn't THE big dog in the NFL. Adrian Peterson has rushed for a league-leading 1528 yards this season with two home games left to play. He has five of his six previous home games with 111 rushing yards or more and has scored in each of the last three games there. In the tradition of LT, Emmitt, Faulk, etc.. he's also a stand up good guy that people want to see succeed. Peterson has already assumed the pole position in every draft next year.

Peterson rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries against the Falcons last season. He added a 60-yard catch for a score.

Wide Receivers: Further defying all reason, Tarvaris Jackson had problems with connecting with his wideouts last year which was a major reason why he was benched. His first start back and all three wideouts had a touchdown. Bernard Berrian (1-41) and Sidney Rice (1-6) had theirs as the only catch while Bobby Wade (2-67) managed to get a second look. This week will be more telling but there is a chance that watching from the sideline for 14 weeks actually helped Jackson.

Tight Ends: The only player who never had fun last week was Vishante Shiancoe. It is a bad sign that Jackson only hit him for one catch and eight yards. Frerotte was using him several times per game.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons have already allowed five runners to top 100 rushing yards and most teams score at least once on the ground. Look for a solid game with a score that always has the chance to be big. The Falcons have never stopped a runner anywhere near the talent level of Peterson.

Jackson faces a secondary that tends to be either very good or really bad - not much in the middle. Their last six road trips had three games with multiple scores allowed (CAR, GB and NO) and three games with no score (PHI, OAK and SD). I like Jackson to throw one touchdown here but anything more is hard to rely on. Last week was an inordinately unusual game. Jackson hasn't used tight ends yet so I will award it Berrian but it could go anywhere.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 23 7 22 13 8 7
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 23 23 16 25 4 2

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