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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 2
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
*updates

Prediction: CAR 13, ATL 27

Saturday Update: As expected, Stewart had a full day of practice and appears on the injury report as probable. He is a safe play this week though will find it tougher on the road in Atlanta.

Friday Update: Jonathan Stewart is still bothered by his heel and sat out practice on Wednesday just to give him some rest. He had some work on Thursday and should play this week. He should have a full day of practice on Friday.

The Panthers come into this game on about as low a note as any NFL team this week. They were butchered by the Eagles and mostly from their own mistakes. The Falcons played a solid game on both sides of the ball in their win over the Dolphins. These divisional rivals traded home wins in 2008 with the Panthers winning 24-9 in week four and the Falcons winning 45-28 in week 12. No reason here to expect anything but a home win.

Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 PHI 10-38 +2.5 43.5
2 @ATL - +6 43
3 @DAL - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 WAS - - -
6 @TB - - -
7 BUF - - -
8 @ARI - - -
9 @NO - - -
10 ATL - - -
11 MIA - - -
12 @NYJ - - -
13 TB - - -
14 @NE - - -
15 MIN - - -
16 @NYG - - -
17 NO - - -
CAR at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     230,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 30 20  
RB DeAngelo Williams 50 40  
WR Steve Smith   90,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   60  
PK John Kasay 2 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Panthers imploded out of the gate this year and Jake Delhomme is central to both this meltdown and the one that sent the Panthers packing in the playoffs. Delhomme has played so poorly that it defies explanation. Particularly when the Panthers signed him to a five-year, $42.5 million contract with $20 million guarantee. While it may only be one game this year, the reality is that just feeds the frustration that started last year.

Quarterback: He has turned the ball over 11 times in the last two games but Jake Delhomme remains the starter here if only because there is no other option. Josh McCown was just placed on injured reserve and Matt Moore is far too green to start. But something has to happen quickly. Delhomme - at home no less - only completed 7 of 17 passes for 73 yards, four interceptions, one fumble and three sacks. Few Eagles players helped Philly win as much as Delhomme did. This is an offense that is returning all the same offensive ball handlers. This is a bad omen for a year where the schedule was going to be much tougher.

Delhomme passed for 295 yards and one score in Atlanta last year. He threw for 294 yards and two scores in the home meeting. Those were two of Delhomme's best games on the year. At this point, it is a risk to expect anything more than an average game from Delhomme who currently has lost all fantasy value.

Running Backs: The rushing attack was hardly much better with DeAngelo Williams gaining 37 yards on 14 carries and adding four catches for 32 more yards. Jonathan Stewart had 35 yards on 11 runs but played a bit more later in the game since it was effective over by halftime anyway.

Williams ran for 101 yards and on score on 19 carries in Atlanta last season in week 12 but only had 54 yards on 15 carries in the home meeting. Stewart only had 15 yards and no score in Atlanta while rushing for 55 yards and one score in the home meeting with the Falcons.

Look for the same sort of pedestrian numbers that the Panthers had in the second meeting last year. Atlanta just held the Dolphins to 82 rushing yards and the Panthers are reeling from last week.

Wide Receivers: The Panthers are still trying to make Steve Smith a star, but the connection is not happening. Smith had 13 passes thrown to him on Sunday and only caught three for 21 yards. Muhsin Muhammad led the wideouts with four receptions for 41 yards but it was not happening last week and the Eagles defense knew it had to worry about the pass and could forget about the run. Three of the passes for Smith were intercepted which doubles the completion rate when Delhomme threw to him.

Steve Smith loves the Falcons. He had 96 yards and one score in the home meeting and later turned in 168 yards on eight receptions in Atlanta. Muhsin Muhammad only had four catches for 40 yards in Atlanta but scored once and also scored in the home meeting with the Falcons when he had an uncharacteristic eight receptions for 147 yards.

Expecting those sort of fireworks are hard considering the recent past. The Falcons have also upgraded their defense in the offseason and should be better. Expect another lower effort here from Delhomme with an eventual touchdown pass that should go to Smith most likely. If the Panthers can shake this funk they are under and put together a winning game, they can turn around their season in quick order. Otherwise they lose here and then go to Dallas to likely lose. An early bye in week four and the Panthers could be in for a long year. It must start here and needs to start with Smith.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 31 10 30 31 26 19
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 7 15 9 9 4 5


Atlanta Falcons (1-0)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 MIA 19-7 -4 43.5
2 CAR - -6 43
3 @NE - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 @SF - - -
6 CHI - - -
7 @DAL - - -
8 @NO - - -
9 WAS - - -
10 @CAR - - -
11 @NYG - - -
12 TB - - -
13 PHI - - -
14 NO - - -
15 @NYJ - - -
16 BUF - - -
17 @TB - - -
ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     250,1
RB Michael Turner 110,2    
RB Jerious Norwood 20 30  
TE Tony Gonzalez   60  
WR Michael Jenkins   50  
WR Roddy White   70,1  
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: Solid win over the Dolphins last week and a nice chance to go 2-0 on the season. The rushing game was off but Matt Ryan continues to throw well and the defense has improved with additions like LB Mike Peterson. All the noise about Tony Gonzalez winding down his career as a blocker seem really overstated since he led the team in receiving yards. The defense is better. The offense is better. This should be another good year for a Falcons squad still very hungry for the postseason.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan liked his new toy... or rather old one... with Tony Gonzalez adding to the mix and allowing the second-year quarterback to open the season with a nice 229 yard, two touchdown effort over the Fins with no turnovers and only two sacks. Ryan did not get the run support he did in most games last year but it didn't matter.

Ryan only had 158 yards in Carolina last season since it was only his fourth game but he later had 259 passing yards when the Panthers visited. He never passed for a score in either game. Look for a touchdown this time and healthy yardage unless the Panthers are unable to stop Michael Turner.

Running Backs: It was just the season opener but it was disappointing to see Michael Turner only produce 65 rushing yards on 22 carries in a home game last Sunday. He continues to have no role as a receiver while Jerious Norwood turned in five catches last week and he wasn't completely healthy.

Turner only gained 56 yards on 18 carries in Carolina but later produced 117 yards on 24 carries with four touchdowns. This week is a bigger test about where Turner falls this year. If he can roll up a nice game - and he should - then he'll be at least good in all games. But if he falters again this week, it could be a sign to temper expectations. Look for solid yardage and at least one score if not two. The Panthers are reeling and Turner is a nice way to just pound them.

Wide Receivers: The big question was if the addition of Tony Gonzalez would just add to the receivers or detract from Roddy White? So far - the jury is still out. Gonzo had a nice game while White only posted five catches for 42 yards and no score. Even Michael Jenkins (4-41) had only a minor role in the win. It was only one game though and this week should be more indicative of what to expect. Notable too - there were no passes thrown to any wideouts other than White and Jenkins.

White had decent games when facing the Panthers last year. He caught seven passes for 90 yards in Carolina and later had four receptions for 70 yards in the home meeting when Turner was a scoring machine. I like White to score here though he won't need a big yardage game.

Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez made his debut last week and led all receivers with five catches for 73 yards and one score. The Dolphins committed to stopping Turner - and largely did - but at the expense of leaving Gonzalez open. Another good sign this week is that the Eagles had TE Brent Celek as their #1 receiver when they played the Panthers last week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 10 11 27 7 12 4
Preventing Fantasy Points    CAR 26 19 7 22 24 32

The Huddle
WEEK 2
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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