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

Prediction: CAR 17, DAL 31

Saturday Update: Stewart is getting better and Steve Smith returned to practice so the Panthers are at full strength. Barber was limited in practice and did only light work. He will be a game time decision on Monday. Barber wants to play and will do everything he can but the coaching staff is prepared to use Choice and Jones if needed. I am leaving the projections as is but there is a chance that Barber plays and HC Wade Phillips said he will evaluate it before kickoff to see where Barber is at.

Friday Update: Both teams have only had one day of practices with the Monday night game and Steve Smith's ankle is not expected to be an issue this week. Jonathan Stewart was held out of practice due to an unnamed illness. Marion Barber is a hard one to call since he was limited because of his quadriceps but Wade Phillips is in no hurry to determine his status as the game is on Monday and all being okay, Barber will play. This will likely become a gametime decision. Check back tomorrow.

Hard to say which team is more in need of a win. The Panthers still have not come within a touchdown of winning a game but at least they are playing better. The Cowboys went from an opening week trounce in Tampa Bay to in some ways their biggest game in years - opening up the new Cowboys Stadium only to lose in exciting fashion to the Giants. This game favors the Cowboys but then again, so did last week.

This is the Monday night game. This is a second chance to debut the new stadium to a national audience. And maybe even win this time.

Carolina Panthers (0-2)
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 PHI 10-38 +2.5 43.5
2 @ATL 20-28 +6 43
3 @DAL - +9 46
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 DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     270,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 30 20  
RB DeAngelo Williams 60,1 40  
TE Dante Rosario   30  
WR Steve Smith   110,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   40  
PK John Kasay 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Panthers improved significantly from their season opening disaster but the results were still the same - a loss. The Panthers enjoyed a rather light schedule in 2008 but really have no game this year you can look at and know it will be a win. The rushing game is roughly half what it was a season ago and the jury is still out on the passing attack. Worse yet, the defense has allowed an average of 33 points a game so far and that's not likely to change by the week four bye.

Quarterback: After being throttled by the Eagles in a nightmare game, Jake Delhomme improved in Atlanta with 308 passing yards and a touchdown. He only had one interception which was a big step up from the four he threw against the Eagles. The reality with last week was that he could finally connect with Steve Smith because so far there are no other receivers of much note or help on this team.

Delhomme should have another decent game this week against a Cowboys team that has allowed no less than 276 passing yards to each opponent with at least one score. KNowing the Cowboys are going to try to light up the monster scoreboard, expect Delhomme to be forced into an aerial war.

Running Backs: While DeAngelo Williams has been far lighter on yardage, at least he has scored once in each game so far. Last week in Atlanta, he ran for 79 yards on 16 carries for a 4.8 yard average and he had 32 more yards on two receptions. Good enough to be a fantasy starter but not the difference maker of 2008.

Jonathan Stewart improved as well with nine runs for 65 yards but this offense is no longer producing enough carries per game to allow for the big stats. Stewart is no longer the scoring machine because the Panthers haven't been stalled near the goal line much this year.

So far teams have been running effectively against the Cowboys but less so at home which is typical. The Giants had 25 runs for 95 yards last week as the Cowboys committed heavily to stopping the run (in retrospect, maybe more time on pass defense was in order). Williams is only rushing for about half what he would do last season. Look for moderate yardage thanks to receptions as well and a chance for one touchdown if the Cowboys get a big enough lead early and stop caring about the run.

Wide Receivers: Steve Smith injured his ankle at the end of the first half, but returned and still turned in eight receptions for 131 yards. That was a major upgrade from the 21 yards he had against the Eagles. The big problem is that so far only Smith has mattered this year. Muhsin Muhammad is stuck at four catches for 40 yards and there are no slot receptions. Whatever happens here goes through Smith so far and Muhammad is mostly a blocker.

The Cowboys secondary has been victimized twice this year and last week saw two Giants top 130 receiving yards. Even Mike Clayton in Tampa Bay had 90 yards. Expect a good game here from Smith who is a safe start in Dallas. In his favor is that the Cowboys have yet to record a sack or interception. Given time, Smith can always get open.

Tight Ends: Dante Rosario actually caught a touchdown pass last week after being blanked in the first game. The Panthers use the tight ends sparingly and not with enough consistency to warrant a fantasy consideration.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 26 11 28 20 19 19
Preventing Fantasy Points    DAL 23 19 30 16 29 25

Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Homefield: Texas Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @TB 34-21 -5 39
2 NYG 31-33 -3 43.5
3 CAR - -9 46
4 @DEN - - -
5 @KC - - -
6 BYE - - -
7 ATL - - -
8 SEA - - -
9 @PHI - - -
10 @GB - - -
11 WAS - - -
12 OAK - - -
13 @NYG - - -
14 SD - - -
15 @NO - - -
16 @WAS - - -
17 PHI - - -
DAL vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     250,3
RB Tashard Choice 60 20,1  
RB Felix Jones 70,1    
TE Jason Witten   80,1  
WR Roy Williams   60,1  
WR Patrick Crayton   40  
WR Miles Austin   40  
PK Nick Folk 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: On the plus side, the Cowboys had a great effort from their rushing game. On the negative, they lost Marion Barber to a quad strain and lost the game because the defense is a big weakness on this team - particularly the secondary that cannot continuously keep players covered when the defense cannot reach the quarterback. As with many Cowboys teams, it looks like most of the parts are there but penalties, mistakes and turnovers are too much to overcome.

Quarterback: First game in the mothership and Tony Romo could have done better. Like maybe any other game of his career. He only completed 13 of 29 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. That's a far cry from what happened in Tampa Bay and really makes the Buccaneers look bad now. Romo may be Bucs good, but he was no where near Giants good on Sunday.

Playing at home in a game where he needs to show up and look good, expect Romo to take advantage of the Panthers showing up. They have allowed three scores to both opposing quarterbacks so far though the yardage has not been that high since the Panthers also give up the run. No problem starting Romo this week - at worst he'll be good and he could have a monster game.

Running Backs: Marion Barber was impressive against the Giants when he rushed for 124 yards on 18 carries and scored once but left the game with a quadriceps strain that popped up on what could have been a touchdown run. He's considered day-to-day so far and pending practice reports I will assume he misses this week and allows Tashard Choice to take his place. Updates later in the week as warranted.

Felix Jones also had a big game on Sunday with 96 yards on seven carries with a score and that mirrors a similar trend he has last season when he was better playing on faster carpet than on road grass. If Barber is out, Jones will see an increase in work but likely not become the primary runner.

The Panthers rush defense has been suspect and Michael Turner just had 105 yards and a score against them. It is a splitting of carries here so most likely is moderate to good games by both Jones and Choice (or Barber depending). There should be one rushing score which could end up with either back.

Wide Receivers: Tale of two games. In Tampa Bay, all three wideouts were scoring and turning in good yardage. Last week they each had just one catch. Just one each. In total, just one more than the Giants cornerbacks had. This week will go far to answer which game was the aberration and which was the general rule for Dallas wideouts?

The Panthers have only played the Eagles and Falcons and held their wide receivers to small numbers other than Roddy White who scored and had 53 yards. But that was because the opponents were ahead and having success rushing or throwing ball control short passes. This game too will help define the Panthers since the horrible play so far has skewed what the defense has needed to accomplish. Expect moderate success here by the wideouts and a score that favors SE Roy Williams slightly.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten hasn't been the elite receiver envisioned coming into this season but he has been consistent with five catches each week. That meant 71 yards in Tampa Bay and just 33 yards last week though he scored once.

Playing at home against the Panthers has to be a good game since they have given up one score to the tight end in both previous games and last week surrendered 71 yards on seven catches to Tony Gonzalez. Expect a solid week for Witten.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 5 6 3 12 7 32
Preventing Fantasy Points    CAR 26 23 8 27 12 32

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