Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

Prediction: MIN 20, DET 30 (Line: DET by 5.5)

Players to Watch: Jerome Simpson, Mikel Leshoure

Players Updated: Mikel Leshoure, Matthew Stafford, Kyle Rudolph

The 1-2 Lions have not lost a home game to the Vikings since 2009 and return after two straight road losses to the 49ers and Titans. The 2-1 Vikings come off their big upset over the 49ers and hit the road where they had their only loss. The Lions swept the Vikings last year, winning 26-23 at Minnesota and later 34-28 at Detroit. This time the Lions may have a running back while the Vikings are still trying to get Adrian Peterson 100% back.

Minnesota Vikings
Homefield: Metrodome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 JAC 26-23 ot 10 DET -----
2 @IND 20-23 11 BYE -----
3 SF 24-13 12 @CHI -----
4 @DET ----- 13 @GB -----
5 TEN ----- 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS ----- 15 @STL -----
7 ARI ----- 16 @HOU -----
8 TB ----- 17 GB -----
9 @SEA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Sam Bradford 190
WR Michael Floyd 2-30
TE Kyle Rudolph 5-50,1

Pregame Notes: Big win over the 49ers no matter if it was a trap game or not. The defense stepped up to hold them to just one touchdown and the offense saw Christian Ponder not only pass for two scores, but added a rushing touchdown on his seven runs for 33 yards. Ponder had almost never rushed this year before the 49ers showed up. That gives Ponder four touchdowns on the season against no interceptions and he is averaging a respectable 237 yards per game.

This week he gets Jerome Simpson off suspension and with that a sorely needed complement to Percy Harvin. Simpson will provide the deep patterns to either pull the defense back or make them pay for single coverage. Until now, the passing effort has evolved around finding Percy Harvin on short routes that rarely top ten yards. If Simpson can "take the top off the defense" it will free up Harvin even more for better yards after the catch. Simpson was impressive and exciting in the preseason and no one else has stepped up in the last three weeks.

Kyle Rudolph is now the leading scorer for the team with two touchdowns against the 49ers added to the one in week two versus the Colts. His yardage is lacking but again - Simpson can add an element to the passing game that should open it up for the other players like Rudolph and Harvin. Rudolph is not getting enough work to suggest he is a new elite tight end, but scoring three times in just two games means he may be on his way.

Adrian Peterson opened the year nicely with two scores on the Jaguars but has been less effective since. He gained 60 yards on 16 carries against a weak defense in Indianapolis and then 86 yards on 25 runs in the win over the 49ers. Not bad stats but also not exactly what we had been used to seeing. Peterson has run 58 times for 230 yards and just under a four yard rushing average. He may not be all the way back, but he is definitely back enough to matter.

The Lions have been great against the run with only one rushing score allowed while in San Francisco. But the passing defense has been average at best and Ponder again gets a chance to shine plus uses Jerome Simpson for the first time.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 15 16 17 15 10 23
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 21 3 17 31 30 31

QB Sam Bradford, MIN CHI 0000025020 ***
Chicago provides a midrange matchup, giving up four TDs in the last five games and picking off two passes along the way. Bradford went for 228 yards and a touchdown in Week 8 against the Bears.
RB Latavius Murray, MIN CHI 5002100000 *
Remember the last time these teams met? Murray does, and probably will the rest of his days. He scored three times. Denver really righted the ship against RBs after that game, and without Derek Carr, it is tough to expect Murray to come anywhere close to that level of output.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN CHI 4001100000 ***
The only thing Chicago has done a good job of stopping versus RBs of late is receptions, so keep McKinnon in reserve.
WR Adam Thielen, MIN CHI 009901000 ***
Thielen is coming off what very well may end up being a career day upon his eventual retirement. Aside from the game two weeks back when he was knocked out of action, he has posted double-digit fantasy points in seven of his last eight appearances. He went for 3-40-0 the last time these teams played.

Update: Stefon Diggs is doubtful, paving the way for Thielen to receive more targets.
WR Michael Floyd, MIN CHI 004500000 ***
Update: Floyd enters the rankings after Malcolm Mitchell was deemed doubtful to play, but the former Cardinal is no better than flier for brazen gamblers.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN CHI 005501000 ***
In Week 8, Rudolph went for 5-31-0 against the Bears. Chicago has been statistically strong against the position of late, but the competition has been suspect.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, MIN CHI 3333 ***
The Bears have permitted the 12th largest weekly combination of kicking attempts, which has resulted in being the fourth best matchup for the position in Week 17.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 STL 27-23 10 @MIN -----
2 @SF 19-27 11 GB -----
3 @TEN 41-44 12 HOU -----
4 MIN ----- 13 IND -----
5 BYE ----- 14 @GB -----
6 @PHI ----- 15 @ARI -----
7 @CHI ----- 16 ATL -----
8 SEA ----- 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 280,2
WR Golden Tate 2-30
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions have dropped their two road games but were competitive in both and should have won in Tennessee. This week they face the familiar Vikings with only the bye week waiting on the other side. This is a must win or the Lions will drop to 1-3 with a very tough four road match-ups in their next five games after the bye. Having already gone 0-2 away from Detroit, that will be brutal.

Matthew Stafford was knocked from the game last week but Shaun Hill came in and threw two scores while completing 10 of 13 for 172 yards. He is a more than capable backup. Stafford has the yardage each week but still only has one touchdown pass per game. He missed out a chance at nice stat padding in Tennessee but returns home where he last posted 378 yards and two scores on the Vikings. Stafford has a hamstring issue and is no lock to play but even if he cannot, the Lions are in good shape with Hill. Particularly at home against a very familiar opponent.

The big news last week was that Mikel Leshoure finally had his first game after missing his entire rookie season and then serving a suspension. He rushed for 100 yards and a score on 26 runs and added 34 yards on four catches. Granted he was only third straight back to do as much against the Titans this year but the important part was that he was given nearly all the carries while Kevin Smith never saw the field. Joique Bell provided a handful of carries to give Leshoure a breather but it was a nice coming out party and buys him plenty of playing time until he too falters or gets injured like all other Detroit backs.

Calvin Johnson remains the uber-stud here and comes off a big ten catch, 164 yard effort in Tennessee with one score. Titus Young finally provided more than one meaningless catch per game when he caught the Hail Mary carom before halftime but that is going to be hard to rely on. Megatron is the only constant here with the other receivers rising and falling in relation to how bad or good the secondary is.

Brandon Pettigrew has also offered some consistency for a tight end and comes off a season high eight catches for 61 yards but he has only one score so far.

The Lions have to win this game and should. Their defense will be tested by an improved Vikings team but the Lions have something new in Leshoure as well. More importantly, they are at home against a secondary they should be able to beat.

Gaining Fantasy Points DET 6 7 3 4 2 27
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 16 1 22 24 20 10

QB Matthew Stafford, DET GB 10000031031 ***
The Packers have given up 23.5 fantasy points per game in the last five weeks, which is the sixth highest average. The Lions are in a must-win situation if the Redskins win earlier in the day, so Stafford will lay it all on the line. Their Week 3 meeting resulted in 385 yards, three TDs and a pick in Green Bay.
RB Matt Asiata, DET GB 4002200000 ***
Despite a good matchup, Asiata remains unplayable. If he doesn't score, there is almost nothing redeeming about his production.
RB Zach Zenner, DET GB 4001100000 ***
Zenner flashed several times in Week 16 but wasn't able to keep up the involvement when Detroit quickly fell into a big hole. Keep him away from lineups in what may be a similar situation against the Pack.
RB Dwayne Washington, DET GB 3001100000 ***
Green Bay has given up receptions and yardage to a notable degree, but touchdowns haven't been easy to come by. The Lions have no commitment to the ground game, anyway.
WR Golden Tate, DET GB 0061001000 ***
Tate was quiet in the Week 3 battle at Lambeau, registering only four catches for 40 yards. The Packers have given up 15.2 catches (5th most) and 193 yards (4th most) per game since Week 11, allowing a TD every 10.9 completions to receivers (14th worst).
WR Marvin Jones Jr., DET GB 004600000 ***
Jones went bonkers in the Week 3 matchup by posting six catches for 202 yards and two scores for a whopping 38.5 PPR points. He hasn't totaled 38.5 PPR points in his last six games combined.
TE Eric Ebron, DET GB 006801000 ***
The Packers have allowed a TD on the last 26 receptions faced by tight ends. Ebron hauled in five passes for 69 yards in Week 3 against Green Bay, and he was heavily involved last week as the Lions were forced into catch-up mode.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET GB 1133 ***
Green Bay has permitted all seven field goal attempts to clear the uprights, while seven of nine point-afters were good in the last five games. This is a bottom-seven matchup for Week 17.

CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

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