Game Predictions & Player Projections - ARI vs. CAR

Game Predictions & Player Projections - ARI vs. CAR


Game Predictions & Player Projections - ARI vs. CAR

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UPDATED New England at Denver

Prediction: ARI 24, CAR 30 (Line: CAR by 3)

Here is the game that we all wanted to see – clearly the two best teams in the NFC that brings the two highest scoring offenses and two of the top five defenses. The Cardinals were on a nine game winning streak until Week 17 when they were pummeled by the Seahawks in a game with less meaning than the playoffs. The Panthers have been churning out the 30+ point games until stumbling in Atlanta. But last week – 31-0 in the first half against the Seahawks before coasting to a 31-24 win. The venue makes the difference here but it should be an outstanding game.

Arizona Cardinals

1 NO 31-19 10 @SEA 39-32
2 @CHI 48-23 11 CIN 34-31
3 SF 47-7 12 @SF 19-13
4 STL 22-24 13 @STL 27-3
5 @DET 42-17 14 MIN 23-20
6 @PIT 13-25 15 @PHI 40-17
7 BAL 26-18 16 GB 38-8
8 @CLE 34-20 17 SEA 6-36
9 BYE —— 19 GB 26-20
News | Statistics | Roster
Cardinals Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 300,3
RB David Johnson 40 5-50,1
WR J. J. Nelson 2-30
WR John Brown 5-70,1
WR Larry Fitzgerald 5-50
WR Michael Floyd 6-100,1
PK Chandler Catanzaro 3 TD 1 FG

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals beat the Packers 38-8 in Week 16 so it was a surprise to see them head into overtime tied at 20-20. A lucky coin flip(s) and a catch by Larry Fitzgerald won the game but it was a surprise to see the Packers playing as well as they did. The issue this week is not only facing the Panthers, but having to play on the road. The Cardinals did not play many quality teams this season and were far less productive when they did. Winning in Carolina can be done, but the defense has to slow down a very different sort of offense than they are used to facing.

QUARTERBACK : Carson Palmer came up big last week against the Packers but it took overtime to get there and he had thrown for just 265 yards and two scores in Week 16 against them but needed 349 yards and three scores last Saturday. Palmer was on a six game streak of only two scores or fewer until tossing those three. Palmer has been less productive in the more recent road games though David Johnson’s success has enabled Palmer to throw fewer passes in most recent weeks.

RUNNING BACK : David Johnson had a three game streak of big games but his two meetings with the Packers in the last three weeks never produced more than 39 rushing yards though he scored in the Week 16 tilt and added 88 yards on three catches. Last week he caught six passes for 43 yards. Those games sandwiched his 11 carries for just 25 yards versus the Seahawks when he also caught three passes for 34 yards. Johnson has not gained more than 40 yards as a runner since Week 15 but is fielding at least three catches for good yardage each game.

Andre Ellington has only been allowed three touches over the last two games and has been a nonfactor.

WIDE RECEIVER : This is where the Cardinals are going to win (or lose) the game. John Brown has not been used a much in recent weeks though he came up with five catches for 82 yards last week. He has tended to be featured more in road games which is favorable this week. Michael Floyd was shut down in Week 17 but he came up with two touchdowns on his three catches for 26 yards against the Packers. In most weeks, Floyd will be the most productive wideout and his five 100 yard games lead the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald certainly saved the best for last when he had a season high eight catches for 176 yards and the winning score in overtime to advance to this week. He had been held to fewer than 67 yards for the previous six games though he’s scored in each of the last three – all at home.

This attack will also include J. J. Nelson and Jaron Brown on the rare occasion, but it’s been mostly Floyd or Fitzgerald as the main offensive weapons.

TIGHT END : No fantasy value.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Josh Norman should match on Larry Fitzgerald unless they start moving him around – and maybe even then as well. But the Panthers have been victimized by the flankers in recent weeks like Mike Evans (4-99) and Jermaine Kearse (11-110, 2 TD). That bodes well for Michael Floyd.

David Johnson goes against a very good defense in Carolina and given recent history, don’t expect much as a runner. But the Panthers have already allowed five different visiting running backs to catch for at least 40 yards. That also fits what Johnson is doing in recent weeks against good teams.

Most visitors have not fared well passing in Carolina but most don’t sport the weapons that the Cardinals have. The Panthers have allowed four visitors to throw for more than 300 yards there and Russell Wilson left with 366 yards and three scores last week that almost all came in the second half.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 6 8 2 30 3 2
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR  9 19 10 12 2 9

Carolina Panthers

1 @JAC 20-9 10 @TEN 27-10
2 HOU 24-17 11 WAS 44-16
3 NO 27-22 12 @DAL 33-14
4 @TB 37-23 13 @NO 41-38
5 BYE —— 14 ATL 38-0
6 @SEA 27-23 15 @NYG 38-35
7 PHI 27-16 16 @ATL 13-20
8 IND 29-26 17 TB 38-10
9 GB 37-29 19 SEA 31-24
News | Statistics | Roster
Panthers Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 30,1 240,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 90,1 2-10
TE Greg Olsen 6-80,1
WR Jerricho Cotchery 4-50
WR Devin Funchess 3-30
WR Ted Ginn 2-30
PK Graham Gano 3 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Panthers looked as if they were going to set a playoff record when they rolled up 31 unanswered points in the first half against the Seahawks but didn’t really come back from halftime and were happy to settle for a 31-24 win that was more of a nail biter than could have been imagined. Even one scoring drive in the second half would have been an “it’s over” moment but that never came. Still, it means the Panthers have scored over 30 points in seven of their last eight games and in all five of their most recent home game. This will be the best defense that the Panthers have faced all year other than two meetings against the Seahawks.

QUARTERBACK : Cam Newton didn’t need to do much last week when he only passed for a season low 161 yards and one touchdown. He was also held to a season low 11 runs for only three yards. But four of his last five games featured at least three touchdowns in each and plenty of fantasy points – only the Falcons fiasco produced a single score. Newton has been consistent with low rush yardage at home since the Panthers won all nine games there this year and the rushing effort has been very good at home.

RUNNING BACK : Jonathan Stewart was out with a sprained foot for the final three games of the season but he returned in fine form with a season best fantasy game of 106 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns and that included his 59-yard run that opened the game. Stewart scored twice in only two games this year – both versus the Seahawks. Stewart has been a lock for a good game when at home where all three 100 rushing yard efforts occurred and where he has been good for around 90 total yards or more in almost every game.

Stewart rolled up his ankle last week but he is expected to be fine for this game.

WIDE RECEIVER : Ted Ginn missed Week 17 with a sore knee but returned last week – and only had one target and no catches thanks in part to being covered by Richard Sherman on most plays. He’ll draw Patrick Peterson on Sunday and that won’t make it any better. Devin Funchess was held to only one catch against the Seahawks and he’s been on a odd trend of scoring every other game for the last ten games. But even if he did, he’s stayed below 30 yards in six of his last seven games. His only real role has been as a big target in the endzone… every other week.

Jerricho Cotchery and Philly Brown are also mixed for two or three catches each week but have tended to only score when facing a very weak secondary. Ted Gin was the only productive and consistent player here but he’s faded away for the last four games due to injury or bad matchups.

TIGHT END : Greg Olsen injured his shoulder last week but said it was just a burner and that he would be fine to play this week. Olsen has been less productive over the final month of the season but mostly thanks to the success of the rushing effort and Ted Ginn scoring seven times over four weeks. Olsen came up with a beautiful touchdown catch last week when he ended with six catches for 77 yards. Six of his eight touchdowns this year came in home games.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Cardinals have allowed as many as three passing touchdowns in a game and they have faced a very light schedule this year. The Panthers bring in a rushing offense that is doing well, a passing game that can be highly productive or offer minimal stats depending on the need. Oh yes, and Cam Newton loves to run and score as well.

The Cardinals defense is very good but less so in road games. The Panthers are going to run Stewart and Newton often and when they throw, it will be spread around. Olsen is the only receiver with a clear reason to start since the weakest part of the defense goes against tight ends. He should score once with good yardage but the other receivers are less certain. Cotchery in the slot plays the position more likely to succeed for a wideout but he’s rarely been good for more than 40 yards in most games.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 1 27 20 5 2 1
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI  12 9 7 21 10 1

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UPDATED New England at Denver

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