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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 1, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
GB at BUF NO at TB CLE at SD *updated NYJ, PHI

Prediction: ATL 27, DET 17

This looks like a mismatch only because it really is. The Falcons have really stepped up the passing game in the last two games and now face one of the weakest secondaries in all the land. The Lions come off their bye week with a 1-6 record and while they have been posting points with their new Martz-inspired passing attack, their defense cannot keep pace. This week the Falcons even get to choose which facet of their offense looks the best.

The Falcons won 27-7 in Detroit last year.

Atlanta Falcons (5-2)
1 20-6 @CAR 10 --- CLE
2 14-3 TB 11 --- @BAL
3 3-23 @NO 12 --- NO
4 32-10 ARZ 13 --- @WAS
5 Open Bye 14 --- @TB
6 14-27 NYG 15 --- DAL
7 41-38 PIT 16 --- CAR
8 29-27 @CIN 17 --- @PHI
9 --- @DET - MON SAT
ATL at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 60,1 0 230,2
RB Warrick Dunn 60 10 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 80,1 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 40 0
WR Michael Jenkins 0 50,1 0
WR Roddy White 0 20 0
PK Morten Andersen 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: After getting swatted by the Giants in week six, the Falcons have shown up big the last two games with a total of 70 points all thanks to the legs arm of Michael Vick. The defense has allowed 27 points or more in each of the last three weeks but when Vick can actually throw the ball, it makes the Falcons look like... like... a normal football team.

Quarterback: Making fun of Michael Vick is getting harder to do. Against the Steelers, he threw for four touchdowns for the first time in his career - and he had never thrown for three ever. He corrected that last week in Cincinnati when he threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns. That's seven passing touchdowns over the last two games when he only had three such in the first five games. Not surprisingly, his rushing totals were the lowest of the year in those games. Is it possible that Vick has suddenly turned a corner in his career after five seasons? This week in Detroit probably won't be an indicator - the secondary is ripe for the taking.

Vick ran for 57 yards and passed for two scores and 146 yards in Detroit last year.

Running Backs: The big-time rushing attack of the Falcons has naturally fallen off during the last two weeks of increased passing but it's not really all that much difference than what was already happening. Warrick Dunn started the year with two efforts over 130 rushing yards but since then has only one game over 70 rushing yards - back over the 130 mark again when the Giants came to town. But in four of the seven games this year, Dunn has not been particularly effective and his numbers remain only moderate unless he breaks one long run (as he did against the Giants). He's almost never used in the passing game even with the increased throwing lately. In the last two road games, Dunn has only run for 55 and 57 yards.

Jerious Norwood had been little used for several weeks but now has been involved more the last two weeks, even catching an uncharacteristic three passes for 39 yards last week.

Dunn gained 116 yards on 17 carries in Detroit last season.

Wide Receivers: If Vick continues to throw as he has, all those Falcon wideouts are going to come off the waiver wire soon. Ashley Lelie had over 50 yards the last two weeks and remains a deep threat that has never scored. Roddy White has not enjoyed a season nearly as good as his rookie year but Michael Jenkins had scored in both of the last match-ups. He has the only three touchdowns scored by a Falcons wideout this year. His yardage remains low every week, but his role as a scoring threat is starting to give him some fantasy value. After years of toiling in obscurity, the Falcons wideouts are starting to look better. The question is - will this last?

The only wideout with even one catch in Detroit last season was Roddy White with only 25 yards on two receptions.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler has now crept near or atop the tight end rankings in most leagues thanks to scoring five times in just the last three games and never falling below 65 yards in a game for the last month. The amazing fact is that everyone knows he is going to get most the passes but opponents still cannot stop him.

Crumpler had seven catches for 104 yards and two scores against the Lions in 2005. He accounted for nearly all the catches and yardage in the game.

Match Against the Defense: The Lions rush defense at home has actually been pretty solid - no touchdowns allowed and only 66 yards as the most allowed to a runner. The Falcons are not rushing nearly as well lately and that's not just because Vick has been passing more. Chalk up Dunn for a moderate game here without a touchdown.

Vick has been throwing "sold your soul?" kind of good lately and the Lions are soft against the pass. They only rank 28th against tight ends and that is without facing almost any good ones. The lone decent tight end has been Desmond Clark who had 85 yards and a score. Look for a Crumpler-alicious game here once again and for the wideouts to chip in one score as well. This will be the first time that the Lions have faced a quarterback that ever leaves the pocket as well so Vick could rack up some nice yardage on the run as well. Since CB Dre' Bly gets Roddy White who has been quiet anyway, look for the one wideout score to end up with Michael Jenkins.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 2 16 32 7 6 12
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 28 22 25 28 28 29


Detroit Lions (1-6)
1 6-9 SEA 10 --- SF
2 7-34 @CHI 11 --- @ARZ
3 24-31 GB 12 --- MIA
4 34-41 @STL 13 --- @NE
5 17-26 @MIN 14 --- MIN
6 20-17 BUF 15 --- @GB
7 24-31 @NYJ 16 --- CHI
8 Open Bye 17 --- @DAL
9 --- ATL - - THU
DET vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna 0 0 250,2
RB Kevin Jones 60 40,1 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 20 0
WR Roy Williams 0 100,1 0
WR Mike Furrey 0 50 0
WR Eddie Drummond 0 20 0
PK Jason Hanson 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: With only one close win over the visiting Bills, the Lions are slogging through another year of futility but at least they are generating a lot more fantasy points along the way. The offense has scored at least 20 points in four of the last five games but the defense hasn't been able to keep pace. That won't likely change this week with the always unique Falcons coming to town. The Lions are better than their record suggests, but they have spent their bye week trying to figure out if they have to guard against Vick running or passing.

Quarterback: The Lions may keep losing games but for fantasy football teams, Jon Kitna has been a very nice surprise this season as he assumes the bountiful role of being the starting quarterback in a Mike Martz offense. Kitna has thrown for at least one score in each of the last five games and had two or more touchdowns three times. He also has never dropped below 220 yards in any game and has even rushed in two scores. His interceptions are a slight concern though that naturally comes in a Martz offense anyway. As of this week, Kitna has nine passing scores, two via the rush and nine interceptions.

The Lions threw for 258 yards and one score against the Falcons last year but needed to use all three quarterbacks in that game.

Running Backs: Like Kitna, Kevin Jones has enjoyed the fruits of the new offense with a rejuvenation of his career that had languished under Steve Mariucci. Jones doesn't often gain 100 rushing yards but has been adding up to 40 yards via receptions each week to end with some nice fantasy numbers. He has five or six catches in almost every game and has already scored five touchdowns on the season.

Jones only had four carries for 32 yards in the previous meeting with the Falcons.

Wide Receivers: Roy Williams has been catapulted into the ranks of elite wideouts in the NFL this year with three of his last five games going over 130 yards and scoring in both of the last two weeks played. Notable too is that of his three monster yardage efforts, two came in Detroit. As the offense continues to improve, Williams is leading the charge. Mike Furrey comes off his best game of the year with 109 yards and one score against the Jets and he's been another nice surprise in the fantasy world. While nothing compared to Roy Williams, Furrey has been turning in four or five catches in most games and has three scores on the season. As defenses move to focus on Williams, Furrey is getting more room to run.

The Lions released Az-Zahir Hakim on Monday. They may bring back Corey Bradford or promote Glenn Martinez from the practice squad. I'll project for Eddie Drummond but Mike Williams could get some time as well.

Roy Williams had 55 yards and one score against Atlanta last year.

Tight Ends: This is a Mike Martz offense and that means the tight ends will wither on the vine before they have a big game. Marcus Pollard is now down to just one catch per game for the last month.

Match Against the Defense: The good news here is that the Falcons have been giving up a lot of points lately. The bad news for Kevin Jones is that almost none of it has gone to opposing runners. Since this game could post some nice points, the luxury of just running the ball is likely not there and Jones will turn in only moderate numbers via the run. But his role in the passing game has been significant this year and should maintain his fantasy value this week.

Jon Kitna faces a secondary that ranks about average but really is worse than that. After never allowing a single passing score for the first four games, the Falcons have allowed at least two in each game since. CB DeAngelo Hall should line up against Mike Furrey on most plays unless Atlanta elects to throw him on Roy Williams - who would blame them? Expect a couple of passing scores here and some nice yardage that should end up 240 or so - maybe higher. That has to favor Roy Williams but could end up elsewhere like with Jones for the other score. The Lions don't use many players in their scheme and just dumped Hakim.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 5 19 13 24 21 27
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 13 3 29 9 20 19