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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket

Prediction: CAR 31, NO 30

Update: Jeremy Shockey will miss this week with an ankle injury and overall - not that much of a free agent addition. Pierre Thomas is listed as questionable to play and was held out of practice all week after suffering back and wrist injuries in Detroit last week. I am removing him from the projections though he has not been ruled out. Not practicing at all is a bad sign and Deuce McAllister would get the start if Thomas cannot play - appropriate since it would potentially be his final game for the Saints. I like this development with Thomas to mean that it will be a pass happy attack and that Brees is going to attempt the 402 yards needed to set a new single season passing record.

The Panthers lost their bid for the #1 seed when they lost to the Giants but all they need is a win here and they wrap up the NFC South title and the #2 seed with a win over the Saints or a loss by Atlanta. The worst the Panthers can do is a wildcard but winning here and getting a first round bye is certainly worth the effort. The Saints are out of the playoffs as well because a win gives them a 9-7 record and a winning season. The Panthers are only 3-4 on the road this year and the Saints are 6-1 at home. The NFC South is odd in that no team has lost more than once at home and Carolina is 8-0 there. But no team has better than a 4-4 road record either. Expect some major points in this game - the Saints stay around 30 in all home games and the Panthers have been above 30 everywhere.

Carolina Panthers (11-4)
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 38-23 -3 40
15 DEN 30-10 -6.5 45
16 @NYG 28-34 +3 37.5
17 @NO - -3 53
CAR @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     250,2
RB DeAngelo Williams 80,2 20  
WR Steve Smith   110,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   70,1  
WR Dwayne Jarrett   30  
PK John Kasay 1 FG 4 XP  
Pregame Notes: The loss to the Giants may have denied the Panthers the #1 seed but it taught them that they can beat the Giants anywhere and should have won the game last week. The Panthers already beat the Saints 30-7 in Carolina but this game is on the road and that makes it a bigger challenge. But even the road losses of late have been very close, high scoring games.

Quarterback: This should be most interesting since Jake Delhomme has only passed for a total of three touchdowns away from home. The success of the rushing game has certainly decreased the need to pass but Delhomme has just not been a decent fantasy play away from home. Remember - the Panthers are only 3-4 on the road.

Running Backs: DeAngelo Williams comes off a game of legend considering it happened during most fantasy championships. The four scores in New York have upped his total to a league leading 18 rushing touchdowns and 20 total touchdowns. His 1337 yards ranks as fourth best in the league. His yardage has tended to be lower on the road but he still has been above 100 yards in three of the last four road games. He rushed for only 66 yards on 18 carries against the Saints earlier this year.

Jonathan Stewart has always been invisible in road games and last week was no different with a season high 58 rushing yards away from home and he has only scored one touchdown on the road. His rookie season has been mildly successful, but really only at home in games that the Panthers already have a winning lead.

Wide Receivers: More interesting dilemma. Seems that Steve Smith has managed several nice yardage games and yet has never scored a touchdown in a road game this year. Muhsin Muhammad has two scores and has been a factor in recent games. Smith had six catches for 122 yards and a score against the Saints earlier this year while Muhammad was held to just 43 yards on three catches.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers have not been very successful on the road but they have had little problem scoring and they are playing better as a team now. The Saints are only average at best on defense but play far better at home where they have only five up two rushing scores this year. No runner there has gained more than 105 yards. But the Panthers rushing attack has been unstoppable lately and Williams has eight scores in the last two road trips - GB and NYG.

Delhomme has not been passing much in road games thanks mostly to Williams running but should manage a couple of scores in this game. The Saints remain soft against the wideouts and must respect the run too much to be able to keep Smith and Muhammad under wrap. By past numbers, this game should be lower scoring and surprising but the Panthers have been playing at a new level lately.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 26 1 13 27 13 22
Preventing Fantasy Points    NO 22 15 28 7 24 8

New Orleans Saints (8-7)
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 29-25 -3 52
15 @CHI 24-27 +3 44
16 @DET 42-7 -7 50.5
17 CAR - +3 53
NO vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     405,2
RB Pierre Thomas 80 30,1
RB Deuce McAllister 40,1 20  
TE Jeremy Shockey 50
WR Marques Colston   110  
WR Devery Henderson   70,1  
WR Lance Moore   100  
PK Garrett Hartley 3 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Saints wind down another season of great offense, Reggie Bush getting hurt and the defense giving away points at an alarming rate. They have already give up five games of 30 or more points allowed. This week is a chance for a winning record and it comes at home - two big motivators. The most recent visitors - and all lost - were ATL, GB and SD. A win here would be a major positive heading into the offseason.

Quarterback: Drew Brees ranks #1 in the NFL with 4683 yards and #2 with 30 passing scores. He only needs 402 yards in this game to beat Dan Marino's all-time record of 5084 yards. He has thrown for ten games over 290 passing yards and twice had over 400. All but one home game had 320+ yards and an average of around three scores.

Brees passed for only 231 yards and no scores in Carolina. It was his only game without a score this year.

Running Backs: Pierre Thomas remains the primary back here and he has scored in the last six games and usually ends with around 100 total yards. But last week Deuce McAllister had nine runs for 61 yards and scored once in Detroit. Since this may be McAllister's final game in New Orleans, chances are he'll get some playing time this week as well. And the Saints are using Mike Bell as well who had a touchdown last week as well. Thomas is not getting all the work.

The Saints struggled to run in Carolina this season and Reggie Bush only gained 55 yards there.

Wide Receivers: The first meeting with the Panthers had Marques Colston held to no catches and Lance Moore settled for three receptions for ten yards. Devery Henderson had 80 yards on three catches but it was a very bad passing game. Moore has come on very strongly since then and tends to be either held to only 30 yards or has over 90 yards and a score when at home. Colston has actually been better on the road. His best game in New Orleans was only 70 yards.

Brees mixes it up well with his wideout so it is yard to determine which one may go off on a given week but at least in combination there are always big passing numbers for Brees. Plus it is misleading to assume what happened in Carolina will be replicated in New Orleans where the Saints always play so much better.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey had an ankle sprain last week but it wasn't a high ankle sprain and he is expected to play this week. He had five receptions for 50 yards in Carolina this year but still has never had more than 75 yards in a game or scored.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers crushed the Saints in the previous game but now in New Orleans it will not look anything like the same. The Panthers gave up huge rushing numbers to the Giants last week but also let Michael Turner had four touchdowns as well. Warrick Dunn rushed for 115 yards on them in Tampa Bay. Expect at least a decent game here by Pierre Thomas but chances are good that they will let McAllister gets some final work in as a Saint.

Brees faces the only secondary that shut him down this year but the Panthers have allowed up to 381 passing yards this year and now face the most productive passer of them all. Look for a healthy game but getting his 4002 yards will be tough and it have to come at the expense of the entire rushing effort which won't happen. Look for a strong showing of around 300 and a couple of scores that will end up with any one of the wideouts and also could be with a running back as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 3 3 6 17 19
Preventing Fantasy Points    CAR 7 19 10 21 10 4

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