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

Prediction: CAR 20, TB 24

Late Update: Bryant practiced on a limited basis on Friday as always and will play this week. Jerramy Stevens came back on Friday and will play as well but Winslow's role is still very safe. Steve Smith had two full days of practice and is safe to start as is Jonathan Stewart who is probable and had a full day on Friday.

Early Update: Antonio Bryant has been limited this week but it is just the same old song - He will play and he will not be 100% healthy. Kellen Winslow's role is made all the bigger this week with fellow tight end Jerramy Stevens is out with a quadriceps injury. Jonathan Stewart was held out on Wednesday to rest his Achilles tendon but returned on Thursday. Steve Smith appeared on the injury report from Thursday after being limited in Thursday practice because of a knee issue but at least for now it is not expected to be an issue.

What a coin flip game. The Panthers are 1-3 only thanks to clipping the visiting Redskins and the Buccaneers are 0-5 and finally back home. Anything could happen here and the Panthers are favored but I like the Bucs at home to secure a much needed win. These teams traded home wins in 2008 with the Buccaneers winning 27-3 in week six and the Panthers later taking their game 38-23 in week 14.

Carolina Panthers (1-3)
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 7-21 +9 46
4 BYE - - -
5 WAS 20-17 -5 38
6 @TB - -3 40
7 BUF - - -
8 @ARI - - -
9 @NO - - -
10 ATL - - -
11 MIA - - -
12 @NYJ - - -
13 TB - - -
14 @NE - - -
15 MIN - - -
16 @NYG - - -
17 NO - - -
CAR at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     240,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 40 10  
RB DeAngelo Williams 50,1 30  
TE Dante Rosario   30  
WR Steve Smith   90,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   50  
WR Kenneth Moore   10  
PK John Kasay 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Maybe it was only be a field goal but the win over the visiting Redskins was a nice way to come off the bye week and facing the winless Buccaneers and then hosting the Bills gives reason to hope for more wins before the schedule turns bad again. The rushing game remains AWOL despite being the #1 attack in 2008 and the defense continues to lag expectations. This could be the chance for the rare road win but the Panthers have never even covered the spread once this year let alone win a road game. HC John Fox has already confided in others that he expects to be fired at the end of the season.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme has thrown for just one score in the last three games and while he had 308 yards in Atlanta, he has been much less productive in all other games. His three touchdown passes go against eight interceptions and two lost fumbles. The Panthers did open with a tough schedule to be sure but Delhomme has truly not risen to the occasion. What little he has accomplished came mostly from dump off passes to running backs or tight ends.

Delhomme passed for 242 yards and no scores in Tampa Bay last year.

The Buccaneers have allowed at least two scores in every game this year but most teams have not amassed much yardage and the Panthers are bringing one of the weakest passing attacks in the league. Playing at home, the Buccaneers need to get a win here.

Running Backs: DeAngelo Williams has gone from being the #1 running back in the league to being a marginal start every week - at best. He has not scored in the last two games and never rushed for more than 79 yards. He has added some catches as a saving grace but he's clearly taken a major step down from last year. Jonathan Stewart finally got his first score on the year when he had 39 yards on ten runs against the Skins but that is the extent of his production this year. This is the nightmare scenario - scant yardage and scores that are being divided up.

Williams rushed for only 27 yards on 11 carries in Tampa Bay last season. Stewart only had 12 yards on six carries. In the later matchup in Carolina the duo produced 301 rushing yards and scored twice each.

The Buccaneers are a weaker defense this year to be sure and have allowed three rushing touchdowns and two players over 100 rushing yards. But the incoming Panthers are no force to reckon with anymore. I like one rushing score here but it could go to either runner and neither should have a big yardage game.

Wide Receivers: Steve Smith (AKA the bad one) has one decent game this year. Just one. And he has not scored a touchdown yet. No Panthers wide receivers have scored. Outside of the single performance in Atlanta, there has been no reliable starters on this offense this year. Even worse - Smith only has 20 catches on the season so far.

Smith caught six passes for 112 yards in Tampa Bay last year. Muhsin Muhammad had four receptions for 68 yards in that game. Things have really changed since then.

The Buccaneers have been plenty bad in the secondary allowing ten touchdown passes to wide receivers but the Panthers have been even worse - none of them have caught a score. Smith has to get at least a decent game here and a chance for a big effort but none of the other wideouts are even worthy of filling in for a bye week.

Tight Ends: Dante Rosario stands a decent shot at a score this week since his two previous touchdowns both were in road games this year. But Jeff King had the touchdown last week so you cannot count on Rosario as the primary tight end. This position has accounted for all three passing touchdowns.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 28 18 28 9 29 20
Preventing Fantasy Points    TB 27 22 29 15 29 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DAL 21-34 +5 39
2 @BUF 20-33 +4 41
3 NYG 0-24 +7 44
4 @WAS 13-16 +7 37
5 @PHI 14-33 +16 42.5
6 CAR - +3 40
7 NE - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 GB - - -
10 @MIA - - -
11 NO - - -
12 @ATL - - -
13 @CAR - - -
14 NYJ - - -
15 @SEA - - -
16 @NO - - -
17 ATL - - -
TB vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh Johnson     230,1
RB Derrick Ward 40,1 10  
RB Carnell Williams 60 20  
TE Kellen Winslow Jr.   70,1  
WR Antonio Bryant   40  
WR Michael Clayton   30  
WR Sammie Stroughter   30  
PK Shane Andrus 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The season continues to swirl down the drain and the Bucs cannot be favored in a game even at home against a 1-3 team. Going through the NFC East proved to be too much for the young franchise to handle but they finally return to familiar opponents this week. This is the best shot at a win for the Bucs potentially for the entire season. New HC Raheem Morris is not looking like a long-term answer so far.

I like the chance for a defensive score in this game.

Quarterback: Josh Johnson remains the starting quarterback despite the growing call to throw the rookie Josh Freeman into the fire. While Johnson threw three interceptions in Philly last Sunday, he had 240 passing yards and two scores while completing over half his passes. Considering that he has gotten almost zero support from the rushing game, he's done reasonably well in a very bad situation. It is unlikely that anyone is relying on Johnson for their fantasy team but if you do, realize the growing risk of seeing Freeman get some playing time.

Jeff Garcia passed for 173 yards and one score when the Panthers visited last year.

The Panthers have been about average against the pass and that plays into what the Buccaneers can do in a home game anyway. Expect barely moderate yardage and a score. There is a chance that the run may actually work this week.

Running Backs: The rushing attack here is not good but the Buccaneers have only been home twice and once was against the Giants. Carnell Williams has struggled mightily but had 77 yards on 16 carries in Washington. Derrick Ward returned to the playing field last Sunday and had 37 yards on six carries. The main culprit in the demise of the rushing game has been playing mostly road games against very good defenses and falling behind and abandoning the run. That could be different this week.

Warrick Dunn rushed for 115 yards against the visiting Panthers last year. Ernest Graham scored once on his five runs for 11 yards.

The Panthers defense has been much softer against the run when on the road and allowed three scores in the last two road trips along with big yardage for the Cowboys and Falcons. Ward and Williams are not going to blow up here but this is one spot where they could actually produce some fantasy value again. If only for one week.

Wide Receivers: The move to Josh Johnson has been positive for Antonio Bryant who has scored once and had at last minimal fantasy value for the last two weeks. He remains less than 100% though as he may be most of the season. Michael Clayton has been dropping passes and became even worse with Johnson there. There has only been one touchdown thrown to the wideouts and it went to Bryant. Since Clayton's second week, no receiver here has managed to gain more than about 65 yards.

No wideout had more than 33 yards in the first meeting with the Panthers which included Bryant only catching one pass for 30 yards. He did had 200 yards and two scores on nine catches in the second meeting in Carolina. That seems like a long time ago.

The Panthers have been stout against wideouts allowing only one touchdown this season and never more than 75 yards. No starters on the Panthers this week.

Tight Ends: Josh Johnson finally made a wide move and targeted the pricey offseason acquisition last week. Kellen Winslow caught nine passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's loss to the Eagles after suffering through two bad weeks against the Skins and Giants defenses. Winslow is where the passing is going to pay off this week and the Panthers have already given up big games to Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez and Brent Celek.

Gaining Fantasy Points TB 23 28 29 1 31 29
Preventing Fantasy Points    CAR 15 27 2 18 11 32

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