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 Matt Cassel 260,2
QB Christian Ponder 20 240,2
RB Adrian Peterson 80 2-10
WR Greg Jennings 5-60,1
TE Kyle Rudolph 5-50,1
PK Blair Walsh 2 FG 2 XP

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 Teddy Bridgewater, MIN CHI 10000028020 ****
Since a disappointing 158 and 1 in Chicago in Week 11 Bridgewater has been steadily building, with four multiple touchdown games and two 300-yard efforts in the five games since. The Bears have allowed 13 passing touchdowns and 1,085 passing yards over their past three road games; while that 361 and 4 average may be aggressive for Bridgewater, it does suggest he'll be on the positive side of a fantasy helper this week.
RB Matt Asiata, MIN CHI 5013200000 ***
Asiata is a similar style back to Joique Bell and Mark Ingram, who have combined for four TDs in three games against the Bears. Asiata's rushing yardage isn't likely to overwhelm, but he's been bringing more to the table in the passing game and the Bears have given up 70 RB receiving yards per game over the past month.
WR Charles Johnson, MIN CHI 0071001000 ****
Johnson left last week's loss to the Dolphins prematurely, and early word this week is that he may not be able to practice. If that's the case, no need to risk him in a meaningless game. We'll check on his availability later this week.
Update: Johnson worked his way up to a full practice session Friday. He's listed as probable, and if he's probably going to play he's probably going to receive plenty of attention from Teddy Bridgewater.
WR Greg Jennings, MIN CHI 005601000 ****
In just shy of one season's worth of meetings with the Bears Jennings has amassed 974 yards and six TDs against them. Sure, much of that came with the Pack but despite shaky quarterbacking he mustered 12-162-1 in last season's series. He had one catch in the earlier meeting this year but has taken on a larger role of late and if Charles Johnson can't go could provide Teddy Bridgewater with the WR1 target he'll be needing.
WR Jarius Wright, MIN CHI 002400000 ***
With Charles Johnson injured and potentially out for this game expect Wright to continue to step up for the Vikings. Over the past three games he's scored twice and topped 100 yards once--and that was with Johnson hogging the looks. The same defense that let Louis Murphy go for 113 yards and Cole Beasley score twice isn't likely to be able to slow Wright's roll, either.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN CHI 2233 ****
The Bears have allowed at least seven kicker points in every game this season and multiple field goals in nine of their last 10. Walsh didn't miss last week, ending a 1-for-6 stretch, and he was two for three on treys the last time he faced the Bears, so seven feels like a baseline this week.

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
RB Joique Bell 20
WR Calvin Johnson 5-100,1
WR Golden Tate 2-30
TE Kellen Davis 2-20,1
TE Brandon Pettigrew 5-50,1
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 0000024022 ***
The Pack limited Stafford to 246 yards and zero scores in the earlier meeting; in fact, in five matchups with divisional foes Stafford has produced only one legit fantasy helper--390 and 2 at home against the Bears last month. And he's had just one fantasy game of note--330 and 3 last November--in his last five against the Lions. So keep those expectations in check this week.
RB Joique Bell, DET @GB 5002100000 ***
Bell took a back seat to Reggie Bush in the earlier meeting with the Packers, but he moved to the fore in Detroit when Reggie went down and he has yet to relinquish the role. Bell could follow in the footsteps of fellow bigger backs Mark Ingram and Marshawn Lynch, both of whom rushed for 100 yards against the Pack, though it's more likely his split workload won't result in enough touches for such a productive day.
WR Golden Tate, DET @GB 005601000 ***
Tate's as good a wingman as there is, and Green Bay's been more permissive to secondary targets of late--three Atlanta receivers found the end zone, as did two Vikings and two Eagles, all in the last six games--so he's a viable fantasy option this week.
WR Calvin Johnson, DET @GB 0071000000 ***
The Packers have yet to find an answer for Megatron; he's scored in 9 of 13 career meetings with Green Bay, producing a total of 12 TDs along with 6 100-yard games--four of them in the last five meetings. Johnson is definitely back in the mix after missing time midyear due to injury, so look for yet another big game from him.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @GB 0022 ***
Prater has multiple field goals in eight straight outings. If his defense can keep the Packers under wraps again, counting by threes won't be a bad thing--for either the Lions or Prater and his fantasy owners.

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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