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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 3
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
*updated

Prediction: IND 20, ARI 24

Saturday Update: Steve Breaston remains questionable to play with his sore knee and was held out on Wednesday but then had limited work the last two days. He remains a game time decision but played effectively last week with the same PCL issue. I am lowering his projections from the risk but unless his knee is re-aggravated, he will likely play. The Colts secondary is very good and this is not a good matchup for him anyway.

The Colts are 2-0 but only by a hair in both games. Without Anthony Gonzalez or Bob Sanders, the Colts are more than a little vulnerable. The Cardinals left the loss to the 49ers behind them and went to stomp on the Jaguars. The Colts barley nipped the visiting Jags 14-12 and the Cards just won 31-17 in Jacksonville. Throw in the Cardinals typical good home record and the Colts are harder to like. They are also coming off a short week after playing Monday night and are on the road across the country in a non-conference game.

Indianapolis Colts (2-0)
Homefield: Lucas Oil Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 JAC 14-12 -6.5 44.5
2 @MIA 27-23 -3 42
3 @ARI - +2.5 48
4 SEA - - -
5 @TEN - - -
6 BYE - - -
7 @STL - - -
8 SF - - -
9 HOU - - -
10 NE - - -
11 @BAL - - -
12 @HOU - - -
13 TEN - - -
14 DEN - - -
15 @JAC - - -
16 NYJ - - -
17 @BUF - - -
IND at ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning     300,2
RB Joseph Addai 40 30  
RB Donald Brown 30 20  
TE Dallas Clark   70,1  
WR Reggie Wayne   90,1  
WR Austin Collie   20  
WR Pierre Garcon   40  
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Two weeks into the season and the Colts are happy to be 2-0. And they know it could have easily been 0-2. Peyton Manning remains the glue that holds this team all together and the Colts can get away with having problems currently because the schedule only has this game and week five in Tennessee as major challenges in the first nine weeks. The rushing game remains mediocre and the offense is shrinking to only Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. If any team can cover both - there's trouble brewing this year.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning is starting the season on a bigger note than recent years when he threw for just over 300 yards in both games and has a total of three scores on the season. The loss of Anthony Gonzalez has yet to be compensated for by the receivers and so far Manning has just turned to Dallas Clark in a big way. But that two receiver focus of Clark and Wayne is not going to be nearly enough to win even most games.

The Cardinals always play tougher at home but the secondary has not faced anything like Manning yet with just David Garrard and Shaun Hill as opponents so far. Both of them had at least one score and 210 yards and Garrard even threw for 282. Look for Manning to post decent numbers that may grow big. He is going to have to carry the team again this week.

Running Backs: Even if Donald Brown and Joseph Addai did not split carries, the primary runner for the Colts would have negligible fantasy value and considering the sharing, there is almost no fantasy value here. Each back now has one touchdown and neither has rushed for more than 42 yards. The split in receptions only makes it even worse for reception point leagues. Together they make an average NFL rushing attack - and that may be kind. Separately, they have no reliable fantasy value.

The Cardinals are only allowing 47 rushing yards per opponent so do not expect any appreciable yardage from the duo, There is a chance for one score but it could go either way or end up as a pass.

Wide Receivers: Reggie Wayne went from 162 yards on ten catches in the opener to just three receptions for 37 yards when the Dolphins committed safety help to Wayne on every play. It led to a huge game for Dallas Clark but Wayne owners were left wanting. This could be a recurring problem too since the loss of Anthony Gonzalez hasn't see any uptick in work for Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie. Garcon had his first NFL touchdown on Sunday but it was his only catch.

The Colts signed Hank Baskett but he'll remain a #4 wideout at best. He's likely to be too busy coming to terms with the difference between dating a Playboy model and actually having to live with one. "Kendra. you're pretty as a picture!". "Ah, thank you Hankie-Poo!". "No, you do not understand, you are pretty as a picture. But, when you actually talk, you lose a lot appeal so please be quiet for a minute and let me figure what I just got myself into."

There is hope that Wayne can rebound this week since the Cardinals defense has only faced the 49ers and Jaguars receivers and may not know how fast a real one can run. This is the same secondary that allowed five wideouts to have over 100 receiving yards in 2008 despite none of them being considered top tier other than Steve Smith (5-117, 2 TD). Wayne was stuffed last Sunday but still should be at least serviceable this week. Plus he is Wayne - he can break one on any play. At least Dallas Clark's performance last week gave opponents something else to fear.

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark had one of those fantasy nirvana games last week when the Dolphins elected to let him instead of Wayne win the game. Clark merely had seven receptions for 183 yards and one score. When a tight end has 183 yards and averages 26 yards per catch, it is safe to assume this is no normal tight end. It's even kind of hard to call him a tight end.

The Cardinals have allowed Vernon "Sluggo" Davis (5-40) and Marcedes Lewis (3-62, 1 TD) to have successful afternoons and Clark is exponentially better than either. Look for a solid game from Clark and hope he just goes off again.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 12 19 12 2 25 30
Preventing Fantasy Points    ARI 20 5 21 22 14 14


Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SF 16-20 -6 46
2 @JAC 31-17 +3 43
3 IND - -2.5 48
4 BYE - - -
5 HOU - - -
6 @SEA - - -
7 @NYG - - -
8 CAR - - -
9 @CHI - - -
10 SEA - - -
11 @STL - - -
12 @TEN - - -
13 MIN - - -
14 @SF - - -
15 @DET - - -
16 STL - - -
17 GB - - -
ARI vs IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     250,2
RB Chris Wells 50    
RB Tim Hightower 70,1 40  
WR Anquan Boldin   70,1  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   70,1  
WR Steve Breaston   40  
PK Neil Rackers 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: Big road win makes up for the opening loss and the reigning NFC Champs have a chance to really make up for their stumble in week one. There is still plenty of room for improvement on this team and in particular with the rushing game but the pieces are coming back together again and the Jaguars witnessed what happens when all the Cardinals wideouts are playing in the game. This game can be another boost in confidence.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner passed for 243 yards and two scores against the Jaguars but left the game because he aggravated his right shoulder late in the third quarter. Matt Leinart replaced him but it was all mop up duty by then but Warner's injury is a concern. He missed plenty of time in the offseason and summer recovering from hip surgery. Then he got a shoulder stinger in week one and re-aggravated it last weekend. At the age of 38, constant bumps and bruises are not welcomed.

The Cardinals have been outstanding against the pass but Garrard and Pennington were hardly going to kill them through the air. The Colts corners are top notch but the Cards are bringing three wideouts into the equation and even Ted Ginn Jr. had 108 yards on Monday night. Add in Hightower the receiver and Warner is okay to start here - long as he remains healthy.

Running Backs: Once again, Chris Wells ran impressively when he gained 44 yards on seven carries but he fumbled twice and lost one of them. That's no way to send Tim Hightower to the bench anytime soon. Hightower had a solid game with 72 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown but only turned in three receptions for 12 yards. A large drop from the 12 receptions for 121 yards he had when Boldin was less healthy and Breaston was out.

Without Bob Sanders, the Colts once again have been weak against the run and was pummeled by the Dolphins who had 235 rushing yards and two scores despite losing that game. I like one rushing score here and so far that has to go to Hightower but eventually it will end up with Wells whenever he stops fumbling. The Cardinals are not a rushing team so no repeat of the Monday night game here.

Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald was unhappy with only four receptions for 34 yards in Jacksonville but he did score for the second week in a row. Anquan Boldin proved he was healthier now when he caught eight passes for 69 yards and the return of Steve Breaston (5-83) also made a big difference now that his PCL injury has finally healed. Having the three wideouts healthy is crucial to success this week since the Colts always take out two receivers with their cornerbacks. It remains to be seen how many three wide sets the Cards employ this week and with Warner to protect, it may not be as many.

All three are somewhat risky starts against a secondary that has always been very good but so have the three amigos.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 16 13 4 32 8 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    IND 1 28 6 1 26 5

The Huddle
WEEK 3
~ 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
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