[Note: My struggles with the visual editor continue as I can't remove the italics from the lower portion of this post. My apologies if it is difficult to read.]
So here we are, another week has passed by since our bitter loss in New Orleans. Some palettes have been swiped clean, meanwhile others still have the taste of defeat salivating in their mouths and are looking for a side of vengeance this week.
We have all set our sights on shooting the Falcons down and it seems entirely possible that we may do so. They are coming into our home and the Panthers are deep in the under-dog position, where we love to be. We all know what Carolina needs to do but I'm sure most of you are worried of what we will do, just as I am. Do we play Foxball or take flight courtesy Jeffair?
Prediction: Foxball. I think even Jeff understands what we need do now... then again, I've thought that for a while and he keeps amazing me.
Although my previous prediction (one which I still stand by), earlier in the week, has Carolina winning 20-17, the Falcons have averaged over 25 points per game this season, meanwhile our defense has given up an average of 24 per game. With that, I won't be too surprised if my prediction ends up on the lower end of the actual score.
Carolina and Atlanta enter this game giving up, on average, 122(#23) and 123(#24) yards on the ground, respectively. The biggest difference here, defensively speaking, is Carolina's 6th ranked pass defense versus Atlanta's 26th. That seems pretty significant...
Until you look on the other side of the ball... With Jake yet to find himself this season (bravo on two interception-free games - it's like he's in rehab for QB's, one step at a time), the Falcons may not need anything more than a 26th ranked pass defense to keep Delhomme in check today.
That brings us to the question: which Jake will we see today? Will we all be pleasantly surprised to see the re-emergence of Ol' Jake or will we get another dose of Jake "Oops, wrong team" Delhomme?
Prediction: Jake Delhomme - 200+ yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
As I write this, there is a small voice in the back of my mind asking "An entire game with no interceptions? Are you sure?". Yes, fellow Panther fans, I am sure. Two weeks clean now, I think Delhomme can finally kick the habit this week!
So, I gave'em 'one of them-there elusi-fy-ing touchdowns' but who's going to be the lucky recipient of these rare gifts? Follow me off of the ledge here, bringing in touchdown number two of the season, it's going to be the mighty, mighty Steve Smith! Something's going to piss him off and we all know what happens when Steve Smith gets angry.
Prediction: Steve Smith - 100+ yards, 1 TD
Who accounts for the other 100? I'm looking for Jarrett to catch a few but overall I see Barnidge and Rosario, if he plays, being the other outlets.
That takes care of the ailing side of things but what about the meat of our offense? That has been a prominent question running through my mind daily as I've followed Williams' practices (or lack of, I suppose). My opinions are split here, so rather than try and predict if he plays or not, I'll simply provide predictions for both options...
Prediction W/ D-Will:
DeAngelo Williams - 55 yards
Jonathan Stewart - 75 yards, 1 TD
Tyrell Sutton - 15 yards
Prediction W/O D-Will:
Jonathan Stewart - 110 yards, 1 TD
Tyrell Sutton - 35 yards
Mike Goodson - 8 yards, 12 rec. yards
Regardless of whether Williams plays or not, I don't think he will be as effective as usual. His knee certainly isn't going to be 100% and he'll probably see less carries to avoid further aggravation. Stewart is going to have to step up, meanwhile I think Sutton will spell him. I expect Goodson will see a couple of carries and reception or two if Williams is a no-go.
All together, I expect the offense to yield a total of 350 yards, give or take.
I've put together a short list of vows for this game in an attempt to better support Carolina.
Why? It may be the furthest stretch thus far but I expect them to finally get the play calling right this week!
With just over 3 hours remaining before Carolina and Atlanta take the field, I'm sure that this will be a close one, as usual, but I'm very confident that we can edge Atlanta out in the end.
Final Prediction: Carolina 20 - Atlanta 17
Carolina's MVP: Jonathan Stewart
Atlanta's MVP: Michael Turner
Both will be essential in converting third & short, a down I expect both teams to see a lot of today. Both are power backs with only a 9 pound difference between the two, and both will be responsible for extending what would otherwise be punting drives for their team. Whichever back ends up with the better stat line at the end of the day could very well lead to which team comes out victorious.
I can't wait to see what unfolds this week.
On a side note, I wonder how Green Bay feels about letting Tyrell Sutton go? Ryan Grant is playing just above mediocrity and I doubt how many carries Ahman Green can take before he falls apart. Sutton hasn't received the chance to prove himself yet but Green Bay is one misstep away from having no valid threat at running back.