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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket

Prediction: ARI 17, CAR 30

Update: The weather should be okay for this game at around 50 degrees and almost no wind but there is a small chance of rain showers during the game. Should be no factor regardless.

Anquan Boldin was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday before having a limited day on Friday. He remains a gametime decision and could very well do the same as last week when he started but then was forced from the game. This time he may not have a 70-yard touchdown before getting reinjured. HC Ken Whisenhunt thinks that Boldin could at least serve a limited role.

The Cardinals finally won a playoff game and now head to Carolina where they lost 23-27 back in week eight. The Cards managed to take down the visiting Falcons but on the road this season they are only 3-5 and guess what - right! - the only road wins came against the other NFC West teams. Otherwise they have not won on the road at all this year and most games were not even remotely close.

The game is expected to be played on Saturday night with a chance of rain but 50 degree weather and no real wind. Rather favorable to what should be the most pass intensive game of the weekend.

The Panthers are the only 8-0 team at home this year. That just is not a favorable situation for the Cardinals. Again.

Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SF 23-13 -2.5 41.5
2 MIA 31-10 -7 38.5
3 @WAS 17-24 +3 42
4 @NYJ 35-56 +3 45
5 BUF 41-17 -1 45
6 DAL 30-26 +5 50
7 BYE - - -
8 @CAR 23-27 +4.5 43.5
9 @STL 34-13 -3 49
10 SF 29-24 -9.5 47.5
11 @SEA 26-20 -3.5 47.5
12 NYG 29-37 +3 49
13 @PHI 20-48 +3 47
14 STL 34-10 -13.5 49
15 MIN 14-35 -3 48.5
16 @NE 7-47 +7.5 45.5
17 SEA 34-21 -7 46
18 ATL 30-24 -1.5 51.5
19 @CAR   +10 48.5
ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     270,2
RB Edgerrin James 50 10  
WR Anquan Boldin   30  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   100,1  
WR Steve Breaston   90,1  
PK Neil Rackers 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The reliance on the rushing game was a great tactical success in the Falcons win and Edgerrin James has shown that he still has something left in the tank even if he'll be parking in some other city next year. After disappearing around week five, James remerged in week 17 when he gained 100 yards on 14 carries against the Seahawks and then churned out 73 yards on 16 runs last week when the Falcons came to town. That's something entirely new for a team noted in shelving the rushing game and throwing like the team is in a perpetual two minute drill.

But James only ran for 17 yards on seven carries against the Panthers this year and Tim Hightower only managed three yards on six carries though he did run in one score. The difference that week as always was the passing of Kurt Warner who threw for 381 yards and two scores.

The game had huge fantasy implications for all the wide receivers since Anquan Boldin scored two touchdowns on his nine catches for 63 yards and Larry Fitzgerald turned seven receptions into 115 yards. Even Steve Breaston had nine catches for 122 yards in that game.

The difference this time around is that Anquan Boldin is limited by a strained hamstring that had him pull up lame right after his 71-yard touchdown catch last week. I'll project for him this week but will update on Friday. There is a chance that Boldin could be held out or just end up as a decoy in the game. When the scheme only employs three receivers and one may be out, that will limit the Cardinals offense.

Another difference is expected to be more reliance on the rushing game since it has worked very well in the last two weeks even though they were home games and no one thought much to defend the run from the Cardinals. The Panthers are preparing to stop it and had no problems at all in the previous meeting. This would be a good week to sit James in case you are tempted.

The Panthers have only allowed four rushing scores to visiting runners this year and James is hardly the elite in the position. Safest bet here is for moderate yardage at best and eventually the Cards will end up just constantly throwing it. That could be sooner than later depending on how well and early the Panthers can score.

Leonard Pope remains out with a knee injury and Steven Spach has filled in but the tight ends here have never scored this season or had more than 34 yards in any game.

Kurt Warner has the best game allowed in Carolina but the secondary has been the weak link here and even without Boldin healthy, this offense should be able to rack up some yardage and at least one passing score. The usage of James is a new feature but after two weeks should not catch anyone by surprise anymore. The Panthers will be running the ball to control the clock and slow down the game which should eventually result in fewer pass opportunities for Warner.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 2 28 1 32 16 11
Preventing Fantasy Points    CAR 13 17 19 21 11 4

Carolina Panthers (12-4)
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 33-31 -1 51.5
19 ARI   -10 48.5
CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     230,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 20,1 10  
RB DeAngelo Williams 120,1 30  
TE Jeff King   10  
WR Steve Smith   100,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   40  
WR D.J. Hackett   30  
PK John Kasay 3 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Panthers look to extend their perfect record at home and since the Giants secured the #1 seed, this will likely be the only home game for the Panthers anyway. The defense has eased up after spending the first half of the year as one of the top units and a tougher schedule saw four of the last six opponents score over 30 points - all in road games.

Back in week eight, Jake Delhomme passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns that mostly went to Steve Smith who ended with five receptions for 117 yards and both scores. No other wideout had more than 38 yards that week. This was also the kick start game for Williams since he had only topped 100 rushing yards once before week eight and he has only missed that mark once in the eight games since. Williams is on a home streak of scoring in each of the last six games in Carolina.

Jonathan Stewart has been nearly invisible in road games this year but has normally showed up very well at home where eight of his ten rushing scores happened and all of his decent yardage efforts. This week will be interesting though since Stewart's worst NFL game so far has been when he only gained ten yards on eight carries against the visiting Cards this year. Otherwise he has always been over 50 rushing yards at home and scored in six of the eight games. It is very likely that the Panthers will look to rush as much as possible this week to keep Kurt Warner from the playing field and the offense has really progressed since week eight.

I like scores from both Stewart and Williams this week -the last three road opponents each had a runner scoring two rushing touchdowns in those games and running backs accounted for three receiving scores during those match-ups as well. Stewart still could suffer lesser yardage and the scores could both end up with Williams. It depends on the flow of the game and the lead of the Panthers.

Delhomme already passed for 248 yards and two scores against this defense and the Cardinals have allowed 17 passing scores over the last six trips away from Arizona. I like the rushing game to take more of a center stage this time around so the passing game will more likely settle back a bit this time.

Of course consider Steve Smith the lowest risk you could take for getting a receiving score this week and just as he did in the previous match-up, he should account for whatever appreciable passing yardage there is. That will depend on the effectiveness of the rushing game but so far there is no question of success there.

Muhsin Muhammad will remain the possession player that that lives off three catch games with no scores and D.J. Hackett is expected to man the slot this week and likely make Dwayne Jarrett inactive again this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 26 1 11 27 5 17
Preventing Fantasy Points    ARI 32 23 31 13 15 21

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