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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 27, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
MIA at HOU SF at KC NE at CIN   updated

Prediction: ARZ 6, ATL 24

The Cardinals hit the road where they always have problems and with a 1-2 record, they are already making the switch to the rookie Matt Leinart. The Falcons return home after a short week and coming off a nationally broadcasted thumping by the Saints on Monday night football. Atlanta may be reeling a bit from the game where nothing worked, but facing the visiting Cardinals is just the ticket to make it all good again.

Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
1 34-27 SF 10 --- DAL
2 10-21 @SEA 11 --- DET
3 14-16 STL 12 --- @MIN
4 --- @ATL 13 --- @STL
5 --- KC 14 --- SEA
6 --- CHI 15 --- DEN
7 --- @OAK 16 --- @SF
8 --- @GB 17 --- @SD
9 Open Bye - - MON
ARZ at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner 10 0 240
RB Edgerrin James 50 30 0
TE Leonard Pope 0 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 90 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 60 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 40 0
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Cardinals lost to the Rams in a game that they would have won if only Kurt Warner had not been confused that he was playing basketball and dribbled the ball for the eighth time in just three games. The initial word was that Matt Leinart was going to start this week but that was called off for another week of Warner and the double dribble.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner comes off a bad game against the Rams when he threw three interceptions and lost another other fumble. That makes eight fumbles in the first three games. He's losing at the snap, he losing them when he tries to throw and of course when he gets hit. It all draws back to how well his thumb healed from the past because he's just more challenged to hold on to the ball than he should be. Warner does throw for a score every week though only once more than one. He almost lost his job the week to the rookie Matt Leinart but HC Denny Green has said Warner is the man - at least this week.

Running Backs: While the numbers may hardly be "Colts" quality, the fact is that Edgerrin James has improved each game so far and ended with 94 yards on 24 carries against the Rams last week plus he scored a touchdown. That gives him two rushing scores on the year - the same number that the Cardinals had in the entire 2005 season. He has gained 64, 73 and 94 yards in those three games while the best performance in the rushing game from 2005 was only 59 rushing yards in week 13 against the 49ers. Maybe he is not excelling to prior standards for himself, but he certainly is compared to any other recent Cardinals rusher.

Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin likely want Warner to stay on for now. Boldin comes off a ten catch, 129 yard effort last week while Fitzgerald had six catches for 65 yards and one touchdown. So far each player has one game over 100 yards and one touchdown on the year. Bryant Johnson hangs around with a consistent 40 to 50 yards per game.

Tight Ends: Leonard Pope had no catches last week and only one in week two. With a rookie quarterback to protect, it's more likely that the tight ends will be blocking more than catching again this week.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons may have been throttled in New Orleans last week but that's no measuring stick in a rather unique game. Even with that game considered, the Falcons have not allowed any running back to gain more than 81 yards (McAllister) and so far none has scored a touchdown. Look for a moderate game for James here that will continue his string of sub-100 yard games and to stop his run stats from increasing from the previous game for the first time with the Cardinals.

Warner doesn't have it much better. So far the Falcons have not allowed a passing score in three games and while SImms had 313 yards in week two, that came along with three interceptions. If Warner scores here, he'll do something that Delhomme, Simms and Brees was unable to accomplish. The yardage could be decent here if trash time expands and both Boldin and Fitzgerald could manage some decent numbers. But Fitzgerald draws CB DeAngelo Hall and that should depress his numbers a bit and make the possession receiver Boldin a bit more attractive and therefore productive.


Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
1 20-6 @CAR 10 --- CLE
2 14-3 TB 11 --- @BAL
3 3-23 @NO 12 --- NO
4 --- ARZ 13 --- @WAS
5 Open Bye 14 --- @TB
6 --- NYG 15 --- DAL
7 --- PIT 16 --- CAR
8 --- @CIN 17 --- @PHI
9 --- @DET - MON SAT
ATL vs ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 70,1 0 140,1
RB Warrick Dunn 70 10 0
RB Jerious Norwood 30 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 40,1 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 30 0
WR Michael Jenkins 0 30 0
WR Roddy White 0 20 0
PK Morten Andersen 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: While the Falcons mopped up the Panthers and Buccaneers when their offenses were struggling, they had no such luck against a tremendously motivated and emotional Saints squad on Monday night. The game was expected to start in favor of the Saints from sheer motivation and then turn towards the Falcons. Never happened. When the Falcons defense can hold their opponent down on the scoreboard and allow the Falcons the freedom to rush on almost every play, it all works tremendously well. When the team falls behind and needs quick strikes and long completions to wideouts, the Falcons continue to stumble. Fortunately that should not be an issue this week even with a short preparation time.

Quarterback: After turning in 127 rushing yards and scoring both on a run and with a pass against the Buccaneers, Michael Vick was back to his old inconsistent self last week when the Saints held him to only 57 rushing yards and 137 yards passing with no scores. Faced with a defense that boxed him in and that dared him to throw, Vick could only complete 12 of 31 passes with five of those going to his security blanket Crumpler. This week, Vick should bounce back at home against a Cardinals defense that almost never faces a rushing quarterback.

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn had an NFL leading 266 rushing yards after only two games but was held to only 44 yards on 13 carries during the meltdown in New Orleans last week. When the going gets tough, Jerious Norwood gets going to the bench. He'll be back this week after watching for almost the entire Saints game.

Wide Receivers: With the Falcons trailing on the scoreboard and needing to throw for the first time this season, the wideouts continued their lackluster ways with Michael Jenkins only catching two passes for 23 yards and Ashley Lelie hauling in only one pass for 48 yards that was slightly under thrown. Roddy White was targeted four times but failed to record a reception against the Saints. When the rushing game is going well and busying the defense, these wideouts can possible be mediocre but when the secondary knows the pass is coming - it still just doesn't happen. The Saints game was unique but it is the same results as in seasons past. This week against the Cardinals should involve the wideouts marginally more if only because the Falcons won't obviously need them.

Tight Ends: While Alge Crumpler did have five catches for 49 yards last Monday, he did not score and now has only nine receptions for 98 yards and one touchdown on the year - well behind his normal pace. Either the Falcons are running wild or they have to pass and cannot connect. Both cases spell a down year so far for Crumpler.

Match Against the Defense: The Cards have a decent rushing defense though it has surrendered four rushing scores already. No runner has managed to gain 90 yards yet against them and even Shaun Alexander was held to 89 yards on 26 carries in week two. But the Cards on the road are reliably weak and the Falcons will present a new challenge to them with Vick, Dunn and likely Norwood. Look for a nice total rushing game distributed between the three with at least one rushing score.

Vick won't likely need to throw much here but all opponents score via the pass once against Arizona and Vick could use the confidence builder after last Monday. Michael Jenkins gets the better match-up but as always - Crumpler is the most likely to score from sheer volume of passes thrown to him. Going against a rookie quarterback in Leinart could well lead to a defensive score here as well.