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

Prediction: ARI 24, TEN 20

Update: Kurt Warner is listed as questionable but had full practices all week and is expected to play.

This should be a very interesting game as long as Kurt Warner plays. The Cardinals are stuck in that nether region that held Seattle for so long - already sure to reach the playoffs but not likely to be a top two team with a bye. The Cards already have a three game lead over the 49ers and will likely coast into the first week of the playoffs. One key stat - the Cardinals are 5-0 on the road this year. It is opposite the past but the Cardinals have not lost on the road so far and are on a three game winning streak. The Titans are a four game win streak after opening the season 0-6. This week will be a good measure how good these teams really are.

Arizona Cardinals (7-3)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SF 16-20 -6 46
2 @JAC 31-17 +3 43
3 IND 10-31 -2.5 48
4 BYE - - -
5 HOU 28-21 -5.5 48
6 @SEA 27-3 +3 47
7 @NYG 24-17 +9 46.5
8 CAR 21-34 10 43.5
9 @CHI 41-21 +3 44.5
10 SEA 31-20 -9 46.5
11 @STL 21-13 -9.5 46.5
12 @TEN - +1 46.5
13 MIN - - -
14 @SF - - -
15 @DET - - -
16 STL - - -
17 GB - - -
ARI at TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     300,2
RB Chris Wells 50,1 10  
RB Tim Hightower 40 30  
WR Anquan Boldin   90  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   110,2  
WR Steve Breaston   60  
PK Neil Rackers 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Cardinals are mostly playing out the rest of the season now but still have a few challenges ahead that still won't keep them from winning the NFC West again. The Kurt Warner scare last week served as a reminder how tenuous the Cardinals hold on their offense is. With Warner it has been purring like a Mercedes Benz. With Matt Leinart, it's been sputtering like $200 car that no longer requires any door locks. The Cards have to balance keeping Warner healthy with keeping the offense running to form.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner had a mild concussion last week and did not play in the second half but still had 203 yards and two scores against the Rams. Unfortunately, Leinart only went 10 of 14 for 74 yards and never went deep. Warner has scored in every game this year and only three times has he been held to single touchdowns. He now has 20 scores on the season and gets a chance to go against the #32 defense against quarterbacks and wideouts.

Warner says he is fine and the coaches are cautiously optimistic but his test results are not due until later Wednesday and his final status likely won't be known until Friday if not Saturday.

The Titans have allowed five passers to top 300 yards against them and given up 24 passing touchdowns this year. This is a defense that Warner could shred when healthy. Consider 300 yards and two scores as the least the Cards should do.

Running Backs: The Cards continue to use a near exact split for Tim Hightower and Chris Wells though the rookie is being used more at the goal line and Hightower remains the receiver. Hightower has not scored since week eight when his four game scoring streak ended and Wells has really cut into his production.

The rookie has scored three times in the last two weeks and had around 70 yards or more in four of the last five games. He's turning in good but not great yardage but his role as a scoring back is making him into a fantasy starter.

The Titans have been good against the run and only allow ed two runners to have big yardage games but seven rushing scores have been allowed and unlike most teams, the Cards force the defense to defend the pass first. Look for moderate yardage here for both and a chance for one rushing score by Wells.

Wide Receivers: The Cardinals are going to live and die by whether Kurt Warner plays. Every week. So far outside of one preseason game, Matt Leinart has not shown the ability to connect deep with the wideouts and that kills the scheme and beauty that is the Arizona Cardinals. Anquan Boldin has been great at yardage but not scoring this year and then had his second touchdown on the season just last week before Warner left the game. He has gained over 100 yards in each of the last two games. Larry Fitzgerald has nine receiving scores to lead the league including one last week when Warner was still there. He scored in seven of ten games this year and has been above 70 yards in almost every game.

Steve Breaston got blanked last week for the first time and switching Leinart did not help since he never progress far enough in his reads to reach the slot guy. But Breaston scored in each of the two previous games and had been good for over 65 yards in six of the eight games he has played.

Not only is this the best place for a receiver to play, the Titans have allowed seven different wide receivers to have TWO or more touchdowns in the game. This should be nice for Fitzgerald to be sure and Breaston should get back into the action again this week.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 10 8 2 32 18 21
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 32 18 32 26 24 4

Tennessee Titans (4 -6)
Homefield: LP Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @PIT 10-13 +5 37
2 HOU 31-34 -7 40.5
3 @NYJ 17-24 +2.5 37
4 @JAC 17-37 -3 41.5
5 IND 9-31 +3.5 46.5
6 @NE 0-59 +9.5 43
7 BYE - - -
8 JAC 30-13 -3 44
9 @SF 34-27 +4 41
10 BUF 41-17 -9 41
11 @HOU 20-17 +4 48.5
12 ARI - -1 46.5
13 @IND - - -
14 STL - - -
15 MIA - - -
16 SD - - -
17 @SEA - - -
TEN vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Vince Young 40   140,1
RB Chris Johnson 140,1 20  
TE Bo Scaife   20  
WR Nate Washington   40,1  
WR Kenny Britt   40  
PK Rob Bironas 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Makes you wonder what he was waiting for? Vince Young had a rumored "freak out" and was benched for Kerry Collins last year. Now that he is back, he just wins every game so far and looks as good as he ever did. Young still is no pass-happy leader but he's helped the Titans go from laughing stock to suddenly setting an NFL record by losing six in a row and then winning the next three, and then four games. These next two games are bound to be major challenges but the Titans will be more than competitive in the rest. A winning season is not out of the question. A stretch perhaps, but then again who wins four straight after losing six?

Quarterback: Vince Young has only managed to score once per game and topped out at 210 yards but he has been making a big difference with his legs when needed. Against the Texans, he only passed for 116 yards but he rushed for 73 yards on 11 runs and kept drives alive. He's given the Titans such a new look that now they're running the option play enough that you half expect to see the wishbone formation.

The Cardinals have been burned by several of the top passers in the league but that is not what they face here. I'll credit Young with one passing score since he normally has that and the Cardinals accommodate at least that much. His rushing last week was high since previous games had been 30 yards or less.

Running Backs: Chris Johnson continues his assault on the NFL and now leads the league with 1242 rushing yards. He is averaging over 6.2 yards per carry and is on a pace to gain just short of 2000 rushing yards. Since week six, he has never had less than 128 rushing yards in a game and has scored six times in the last four weeks. He's even added up to 100 yards per week as a receiver. Last week was a shock because he did not score and LenDale White trotted in for the touchdown. While that does perhaps save Johnson a bit, he's been just as effective in the middle as he has on the edges using his speed.

The Cardinals are about average against the run which means they have been dinged by DeAngelo Williams (23-158) and Steven Jackson (24-226). So far no one has stopped Johnson and the Cardinals on the road with an average rush defense is not likely to be the first.

Wide Receivers: Nate Washington has been turning in less than 40 yards each of the last six games but has scored twice in home games. He rarely has more than three catches but is consistent at that level. Justin Gage has been out with a bad back and Kenny Britt had two catches for 55 yards against the Bills and then led the team with four receptions for 42 yards and his first NFL score on Monday night. This is a very little used unit but usually produces one touchdown in most games.

I'll go with Washington as the preferred receiver for the one score but the yardage will be light despite playing the Cardinals.

Tight Ends: The Titans still have not had a touchdown from a tight end and the tremendous rushing effort is due in part to their blocking - not receiving.

Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 26 6 28 23 14 11
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 20 13 27 22 9 15

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