Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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* CHI at GB (THU) * DAL at SEA * MIN at IND * TB at NYG
ARI at NE * DET at SF * NO at CAR * TEN at SD
* BAL at PHI * HOU at JAC * NYJ at PIT * WAS at STL
* Updated CLE at CIN KC at BUF * OAK at MIA DEN at ATL (MON)

Prediction: CHI 20, GB 31 (Line: GB by 6)

Players to watch: Michael Bush, Randall Cobb, Cedric Benson

Updated Players: Greg Jennings, James Jones

The Bears come off a major thumping of the Colts but that was to be expected. The Packers remain at home after allowing the 49ers to visit with a defense that was actually bigger than the Packers offense. The Packers swept the Bears last season, winning 27-17 in Chicago and later 35-21 in Green Bay. The Packers need this win to get back on track but the Bears won't make it easy with an offense that looks improved.

Chicago Bears
Homefield: Soldier Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 IND 41-21 10 HOU -----
2 @GB ----- 11 @SF -----
3 STL ----- 12 MIN -----
4 @DAL ----- 13 SEA -----
5 @JAC ----- 14 @MIN -----
6 BYE ----- 15 GB -----
7 DET ----- 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR ----- 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI @ GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 260,2
RB Matt Forte 60 6-60
WR Alshon Jeffery 5-80,1
WR Brandon Marshall 8-110,1
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40
PK Jay Feely 1 FG 2 XP
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Opening up the season against the worst team from the previous year can give an unrealistic view of how good you are. But the Bears were hitting on all cylinders and losing the Mike Martz scheme seemed to really do the trick. Where once Jay Cutler was running around throwing to a never-ending cast of receivers, the offense was much more traditional. In fantasy terms, instead of having five or six guys with very mediocre to no fantasy value now there are only a couple but they are really producing.

Cutler ended with 333 yards and two scores against the Colts that was split between Brandon Marshall and everyone else. Marshall had 15 targets and nine receptions for 119 yards and one score. It was a throwback to the pitch and catch days back in Denver. No other receiver or tight end mattered other than the rookie Alshon Jeffrey who took five passes and caught three with 80 yards and a score. Only having to worry about two receivers for fantasy purposes? Nirvana.

The rest of the receivers were even worse than when Martz was still calling plays. Granted - one week at home against the worst team from the previous year hardly proves a major turnaround but then again - it looked every bit as good as you could hope.

Cutler passed for 302 yards and two scores at home against the Packers and later settled for 242 yards and one touchdown in Green Bay.

Matt Forte looked like he was in mid-season form with 16 runs for 80 yards (5.0 YPC) and one touchdown with three receptions gaining 40 more yards. What is troubling - especially for future games where the Bears may not have 28 carries to split up - is that Michael Bush has a significant role. He was given 12 runs and he gained 42 yards with two touchdowns. Both scores were in the first half from the one-yard line. Forte's score game from six yards out. Bush had no role as a receiver which may be a saving grace for Forte. But he was there for the short yardage gimmee touchdowns.

Forte only gained two yards on nine runs in the last game at Green Bay though he added 80 yards on seven receptions. The Packers were softer against the run last week but that was a product of the 49ers defense giving them field position and plenty of reasons to run the ball and chew up the clock - probably not a luxury for the Bears. Bush holds much less attraction here with the Packers likely to not give up many one-yard opportunities. But the passing game should shine once again against a secondary that just allowed two scores and 211 yards to Alex Smith.

Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 8 2 2 32 10 4
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 21 20 20 17 26 13

QB Jimmy Clausen, CHI DET 0000023022 *
Clausen hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since 2010; heck, he's only thrown nine passes total since 2010. Jay Cutler threw for 280 and 2 in Detroit; sans Brandon Marshall, it's a safe bet Clausen won't approach those numbers.
QB Jay Cutler, CHI DET 00000000 *****
Benched for Jimmy Clausen.
RB Matt Forte, CHI DET 3008700000 ***
Worry. Forte's worst game in years came in Detroit in Week 13, when he rushed for six yards on five carries. 52 receiving yards kind of salvaged the day, but with Jimmy Clausen at the helm you can expect the Lions to focus on Forte. It'll be tough to pull the trigger on a replacement, but this doesn't look particularly good for Forte this week.
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI DET 005601000 ***
You might feel positive about this matchup after seeing Jeffery score twice in the earlier meeting, but consider what's happened since then: no Brandon Marshall to draw coverage, and the uber-rusty Jimmy Clausen throwing the ball. He's still reasonably startable, but not with nearly as much confidence.
WR Marquess Wilson, CHI DET 003200000 ***
Wilson scored in his first extended action in place of Brandon Marshall, but it's a significantly tougher matchup this week--not to mention a quarterback who hasn't had to progress through his reads in game action for almost four years. Temper your expectations accordingly.
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI DET 007601000 ***
Bennett came up large in the earlier meeting with Detroit, and tight end has been a recent Achilles' heel for the Lions as they've allowed games of 69, 109, and 78 yards and a two-TD game--all in just the past month. Bennett should be a favored target for Jimmy Clausen, but it's still a risky proposition given that Chicago's QB hasn't seen significant action in four years.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jay Feely, CHI DET 1122 ***
It's a telling sign that in two games as a Bear Feely has more onside kick attempts (4) than total points (3). Get your fantasy kicks elsewhere.

Green Bay Packers
Homefield: Lambeau Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SF 22-30 10 BYE -----
2 CHI ----- 11 @DET -----
3 @SEA ----- 12 @NYG -----
4 NO ----- 13 MIN -----
5 @IND ----- 14 DET -----
6 @HOU ----- 15 @CHI -----
7 @STL ----- 16 TEN -----
8 JAC ----- 17 @MIN -----
9 ARI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
GB vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers 20,1 320,3
WR Randall Cobb 5-70
WR Jordy Nelson 6-100,1
PK Mason Crosby 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Packers seemed unbeatable in 2011 other than one trap game in Kansas City. Opening at home would surely mean a win regardless of opponent but that's not going to be true. The 49ers came in with a predictably bad-ass defense but their offense fared far better than expected. It wasn't even a lock that they had an offense coming in. But they outscored the Pack in Green Bay and then thwarted the comeback attempt.

Several interesting aspects to that game were seen. Cedric Benson's race up the rankings may have been premature since he only gained 18 yards on nine carries and had no receptions which was expected. Aaron Rodgers was still the leading rusher (5-27). The Packers do not want a ground game beyond the ability to punch in a short score (provided Rodgers does not take it like normal) and to get a few first downs along the way. The opportunity should be akin to Stevan Ridley who gets to play defenses on their heels from the Patriots passing attack. At least last week, no such benefit existed against the 49ers still very potent defense.

The Packers had some success running the ball on the Bears last year but it is too early to rely on Benson for anything beyond some marginal rushing yardage. The Bears defense should be good enough to keep him at bay this week as well unless the Packers get a really big lead. On passing downs, the Packers took to using Randall Cobb in the backfield and that resulted in him leading the team with nine receptions for 77 yards. That's bad for Benson but great for Cobb. It seems a genius move really - the speedy and elusive Cobb barely has room on either side. Why not put him in the backfield? If it works it could start something new in the NFL. This is really something to watch.

The 49ers were able to largely take Greg Jennings (5-34) and Jordy Nelson (5-64) out of the game plan but Cobb and James Jones (4-81, TD) both stepped up along with Jermichael Finley (7-47, TD).

Jennings is listed as doubtful to play because of a groin strain and will be a game time decision. That makes James Jones more interesting and Jennings a huge risk to rely on.

This still remains a potent offense with a lot of weapons. The Packers had a rough opening that they lost at the end. This week is a restart at home against a familiar opponent. That should get them back on track.


Gaining Fantasy Points GB 7 32 3 6 32 10
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 12 6 24 23 2 22

QB Aaron Rodgers, GB @TB 0000028020 ***
Maybe Rodgers relaxed a little too much last week, as he was blanked by the Bills in Buffalo. It's another road date, and we have more than enough evidence at this point to see that Rodgers is far less effective away from Lambeau. Moreover, the Bucs have been solid since their Week 7 bye, especially at home where they've allowed an average game of 212 passing yards and one passing score. If you survived Rodgers' goose-egg last week your team should be stocked enough to absorb a better--but still not elite--outing here.
RB Eddie Lacy, GB @TB 8012200000 ***
So much for a bum hip and sharing touches; Lacy looked perfectly fine last week and should be good to go against a Bucs D that over the past five games has given up an average of 140 combo yards and a touchdown to opposing backs.
WR Jordy Nelson, GB @TB 0061001000 ***
Nelson's last road TD came in Week 6, giving him a three-game scoring drought on the road heading into Tampa. Tough to bench an elite receiver, but the numbers suggest Jordy's just another guy away from Lambeau... and Tampa's a long ways from America's Dairyland.
WR Randall Cobb, GB @TB 007901000 ****
Cobb's productivity has held up better on the road than his receiving corps mates; witness his 96 yards last week in the loss to Buffalo. While it's been bigger receivers having the most success against the Bucs they've surrendered stats to some speed guys as well, and Cobb should carve out another fantasy helper in Tampa Bay this week.
WR Davante Adams, GB @TB 002300000 ***
The Packers still haven't received anything resembling a fantasy helper from a third receiver on the road, and there's nothing in the Bucs' pattern of stats surrendered to wideouts to suggest that changes this week.
TE Andrew Quarless, GB @TB 002200000 ***
The Packers continue to split TE snaps, cutting into any chance at fantasy stats either Quarless or Richard Rodgers might have.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB @TB 2233 ***
Mason has multiple field goals in three straight and six of seven, with double-digit points in five of those seven outings. He should get his kicks again against a Bucs defense that, after a brief and unexpected three-game bout of competency, is back to giving up double-digit points to opposing kickers.

* CHI at GB (THU) * DAL at SEA * MIN at IND * TB at NYG
ARI at NE * DET at SF * NO at CAR * TEN at SD
* BAL at PHI * HOU at JAC * NYJ at PIT * WAS at STL
* Updated CLE at CIN KC at BUF * OAK at MIA DEN at ATL (MON)

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