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

Prediction: NO 34, ATL 13

Friday Night Update: Mike Bell missed practice again on Friday and is listed as questionable on the injury report. He has not been officially ruled out but is very unlikely to play. Both Thomas and Bush are probable and will play with no limitations. Neither Matt Ryan or Michael Turner have been ruled out and they are listed as questionable but it would be a surprise to see either playing this week as they are not anywhere near 100% healthy and have missed practices. Michael Jenkins is a game time decision.

Thursday Night Update: Mike Bell has been held out of practice because of his knee and is in danger of missing this game. Both Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were limited in practice but are expected to play. I am going to remove Bell from the projections because he is a risk but he has not been ruled out yet. Jeremy Shockey has been limited because of his hamstring but is not expected to miss this game.

Here is a rematch from when the Saints won 35-27 when they hosted the Falcons back in week eight. The Saints survived their scare in Washington and remain perfect while the Falcons drop to 6-6 while learning that life without Michael Turner and Matt Ryan is one without hope.

New Orleans Saints (12-0)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DET 45-27 -13.5 49
2 @PHI 48-22 +3 46.5
3 @BUF 27-7 -5.5 52.5
4 NYJ 24-10 -6.5 46
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG 48-27 -3 47
7 @MIA 46-34 -6 48
8 ATL 35-27 -10 54
9 CAR 30-20 -14 52
10 @STL 28-23 -14 50.5
11 @TB 38-7 -10.5 51
12 NE 38-17 -3 56
13 @WAS 33-30 -9 46.5
14 @ATL - -9.5 52.5
15 DAL - - -
16 TB - - -
17 @CAR - - -
NO at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     300,2
RB Pierre Thomas 90,1 20  
RB Mike Bell 60
RB Reggie Bush 20 20  
TE Jeremy Shockey   30  
WR Marques Colston   80,1  
WR Devery Henderson   60  
WR Robert Meachem   70,1  
PK Garrett Hartley 2 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: The best news yet came out of Saints camp when HC Sean Payton said he would go for a perfect season even if the Saints had already clinched home field advantage. That's certainly not out of the question with this road trip to play the injury-depleted Falcons, then home to face the December-challenged Cowboys and the Buccaneers before finally playing in Carolina. It can be done and if last week's win over the Redskins is any indication, it must be divine will that it is destiny.

Garrett Hartley has taken over the starting job from John Carney now but the team has not released Carney.

I like a defensive score in this game.

Quarterback: Drew Brees continues his assault on the season with 29 passing scores and eight games at or above 300 passing yards. He threw for 308 yards and two scores when the Falcons visited back in week eight and they are likely even less able to hold back opponents now that Turner and Ryan have been out.

If Brees throws for less than 300 yards and two scores, it is a mercy game. He could bomb these Falcons if he wanted.

Running Backs: Reggie Bush returned last week but had only six touches and gained only 48 yards. He is still not 100% and did not endear himself to the coaches by taking the easy out on a couple of plays last Sunday. Mike Bell had 16 carries for 34 yards but short of him scoring, he carries no fantasy value anymore. Pierre Thomas has been the primary runner and had a season high eight catches for 64 yards in Washington.

Back in week eight, Pierre Thomas enjoyed one of his best games when he ran for 91 yards and a score and added a second touchdown via a reception. Bush also scored in that game though he only had 14 total yards and Bell turned in 49 yards on 17 carries. Imagine all that from just one back. Sigh...

With a likely reduced offensive showing by the Falcons, figure on plenty of rushing opportunities that make Thomas a good start and could make Bell relevant since he does more against the softer defenses.

Wide Receivers: Devery Henderson remains a big part of the offense and has solid yardage in most games but Marques Colston and Robert Meachem are taking over the passing game. Colston has scored eight times this year and usually been the #1 wideout but Meachem has really turned it on with eight scores as well including at least one in each of the last five games. He not only had a 53-yard touchdown catch to help win in Washington, he also had a SportCenter highlight reel when he ripped the intercepted ball from DB Kareem Moore and raced 44 yards to score. The entire offense works but the two wideouts are the book ends.

Colston scored once and had six receptions for 85 yards in week eight against the Falcons while Meachem only had 47 yards on two catches in the only game of the last seven weeks without a score.

Falcons are soft against the pass and Meachem and Colston are every week starters now.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey contributes every week but mostly as a blocker and he only had one score since the season opener .He has not been above 50 yards since week eight.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 2 1 7 9 4 1
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 30 22 19 29 18 19

Atlanta Falcons (6-5)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 MIA 19-7 -4 43.5
2 CAR 28-20 -6 43
3 @NE 10-26 +4 44.5
4 BYE -    
5 @SF 45-10 +2.5 41
6 CHI 21-14 -3 45.5
7 @DAL 21-37 +5 47.5
8 @NO 27-35 +10 54
9 WAS 31-17 -10 41
10 @CAR 19-28 -1 43.5
11 @NYG 31-34 +7 46
12 TB 20-17 -12 46
13 PHI 7-34 +4 43.5
14 NO - +9 52.5
15 @NYJ - - -
16 BUF - - -
17 @TB - - -
ATL vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Redman     260,1
RB Jason Snelling 40 10  
RB Jerious Norwood 20 20  
TE Tony Gonzalez   80  
WR Marty Booker   30  
WR Roddy White   90,1  
WR Eric Weems   20  
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Falcons were doing well this season though they still had a problem winning on the road but losing Michael Turner... again... and Matt Ryan is more than this offense can handle. There is one more home game against the Bills in week 16 that could be a win but on the road to the Jets is going to be rough and even a trip to Tampa Bay is no lock without all the stars back on the field. Most likely it looks like the Falcons are going to be fighting in those last two weeks to see if they can have a winning season or end .500 - both victories of sorts and yet neither likely to get a wild card bid.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan has turf toe and while he was initially feared out for the season, he may be back. He has not yet been ruled out officially for this week but barring a surprising development there is no expectations that he will play. Chris Redman took the start last week and had 235 yards and a score against the Eagles but threw for two interceptions and could not generate much offense even in the significant amount of trash time offered by the lopsided loss.

Ryan threw for 289 yards and a score in New Orleans this year.

The only question with the Saints is if they are still tired and going to start slow or not. This is a familiar opponent though and should keep the Falcons to similar stats as the Eagles did.

Running Backs: Michael Turner has not been ruled out this week but he's all but certain to miss this week. Jason Snelling only produced 35 yards on ten carries against the Eagles and added two receptions for 17 yards but was never a factor in the game. Jerious Norwood stepped up his workload with 11 rushing attempts that gained 18 yards and he had two catches for 24 yards as well. Not much production and it gets split up anyway. Norwood is still not 100% recovered from his hip injury so do not expect more touches from him.

Back in week eight, Turner ran for 151 yards on 20 carries and scored once in New Orleans. That pretty much illustrates the difference between Turner and "not Turner".

Forget the success that Turner had in New Orleans. This split backfield will produce moderate numbers at best and the Saints should keep them out of the endzone this time.

Wide Receivers: Michael Jenkins missed last week with an ankle injury and he was not replaced. Roddy White went from his usual dozen targets per week to having 20 passes thrown his way. He caught a season high nine passes for 104 yards and a score. That gives White eight touchdowns on the season and a reason to start him this week. White caught four passes for 108 yards and a score in the previous meeting with the Saints. With Jenkins out, no other wideout here has any increase in value.

With the Falcons sure to fall behind, expect a ton more passes to go towards White this week and for him to end with a decent game.

Tight Ends: Not unlike White, Tony Gonzalez saw 13 passes thrown his way by Redman and came down with eight for 72 yards. Gonzalez has five scores on the season but the Saints are better against tight ends than most. Expect decent yardage from being targeted so much but a score is less certain. Gonzalez caught six passes for 89 yards and no score in New Orleans.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 15 12 18 5 26 24
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 6 21 22 6 17 9

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