Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

Prediction: TEN 17, MIN 34 (Line: MIN by 5.5)

Players to Watch: Matt Hasselbeck

Players Updated: Christian Ponder, Kenny Britt

The 1-3 Titans have only their trap game win over the Lions so far; otherwise they have been waxed in every game by 21+ points. The 3-1 Vikings are a surprise and their one loss was on the road. At home they most recently beat the 49ers. The Vikings are far too new to a winning record to take anyone lightly and the Titans are struggling to find any consistent offense. This should be a good game for the purple. It's been a blessing for almost every team to face the Titans.

Tennessee Titans
Homefield: LP Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 NE 13-34 10 @MIA -----
2 @SD 10-38 11 BYE -----
3 DET 44-41 12 @JAC -----
4 @HOU 14-38 13 HOU -----
5 @MIN ----- 14 @IND -----
6 PIT ----- 15 NYJ -----
7 @BUF ----- 16 @GB -----
8 IND ----- 17 JAC -----
9 CHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Jackie Battle 60,1
RB Shonn Greene 40
RB Dexter McCluster 4-40
WR Nate Washington 3-40
WR Kendall Wright 5-80,1
PK Ryan Succop 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Another week, another 21+ point blowout loss. The Titans offense continues to be nowhere near as good as their own defense makes the opponents offense look. Jake Locker will be out this week with his second separated shoulder of the year and there is concern that he may need surgery. Regardless of the longer term implications, Matt Hasselbeck takes back the reins and that cannot be a bad thing. Locker was surprisingly effective against the Lions in their one win but otherwise failed to generate much offense.

Hasselbeck has a decent compliment of receivers with Nate Washington, Jared Cook, the rookie Kendall Wright and eventually Kenny Britt. Last week Britt was held out again because of his ankle and there is no certainty that he will play this week though there is some optimism. But adding the veteran Hasselbeck should help get the offense running better and make better use of the receivers. He passed for 193 yards in Houston and connected on scores with Craig Stevens (2-24) and Wright (4-46).

Chris Johnson shocked the world when he turned in 141 yards on 25 carries in Houston against likely his worst match-up. Three previous games had only combined for 45 rushing yards so it was a bit of an aberration. Johnson claimed after the game that it was because his blocking was better. Most would point at the fact that the Titans lost by 24 points and that most all of what he accomplished came on draw plays later in the game when the defense did not care about giving up eight or ten yards because they were ahead by 24 yards and Johnson was just killing the clock for them.

This is not unlike what Johnson did in 2011. He would have a great out of the blue against the least likely opponent. Then the next week he would be back to a zen-like nothingness. He gained 130 yards and a score against the Panthers and then ran for 13 yards against Atlanta the next week. He went for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Buffalo and then settled for just 23 rush yards in New Orleans the next week. To make it even odder, Johnson only had four decent games last season and three of them were on the road. His lone home success was late season against the Buccaneers who had already given up and went fishing.

This is all to say that you cannot trust what Johnson does and the big game - nice as it was - means almost nothing because it was what the Texans let him do while winning by 24 points. This week he is on the road again but going against the #3 defense versus the run. That means he will probably end up with 14 rushing yards but could end up with 164 yards. Just depends and is a product more of game situation and defensive calls than what the Titans are doing. One interesting tact though - could Hasselbeck be helping out Johnson? Tough call to make and almost always sure to prompt you to do the wrong thing.

Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 18 32 20 6 24 18
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 19 3 17 26 18 5

QB Charlie Whitehurst, TEN IND 0000020011 ***
Whitehurst saw plenty of action in the earlier game with Indy, throwing for 177 yards and a touchdown. That's actually a pretty typical game for him; no reason to set your expectations differently.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN IND 5011100000 **
Sankey scored in the earlier meeting with Indy, and at this juncture there's really no reason to give anyone else carries; the Titans need to find out what their second-round pick is capable of going forward. With greater volume comes greater responsibility--like, he'll need to turn 14 carries into more than 44 yards, like he did against Jacksonville last week, if he wants to become the feature back in Tennessee.
WR Nate Washington, TEN IND 004500000 ***
Washington had his moment in the sun with 6-102 against a bad Jets' secondary; now he's just taking up roster space.
WR Kendall Wright, TEN IND 004500000 ***
Wright is playing through a hand injury; despite that he led all Titans receivers with 4-73 last week against Jacksonville and is the best bet to post something similar against an Indy team he took for 5-55 (also team-leading) in the earlier meeting.
TE Delanie Walker, TEN IND 005601000 ***
Walker scored against Indy in the earlier meeting--hardly surprising, seeing as the Colts have given up 10 TE TDs on the year. They've also allowed six games of 80 yards or more, including Walker's 84 earlier in the year. Given how heavily targeted Walker is, and how bad the rest of Tennessee's receiving corps is, a similar stat line feels like a starting point for Walker this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN IND 1122 ***
The Colts have allowed one multiple-field goal outing in the past 10 games. No reason to think the Titans suddenly find one between the couch cushions this week.

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 20-13 13 @GB -----
5 TEN ----- 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS ----- 15 @STL -----
7 ARI ----- 16 @HOU -----
8 TB ----- 17 GB -----
9 @SEA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel 280,1
QB Christian Ponder 10 230,2
RB Adrian Peterson 110,1 2-10
WR Greg Jennings
TE Kyle Rudolph 6-60,1
PK Blair Walsh 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The most surprising part of the 3-1 record of the Vikings is not that they have never scored more than 26 points in a game. It is that the defense has held opponents to 23 or fewer points each week. Granted - the Jaguars and Colts were not offensive powerhouses but the 49ers and Lions were heavily favored in their games. The defense is what has saved the Vikings so far, not Adrian Peterson though he too is making a mark.

Christian Ponder has only thrown four touchdowns and twice been blanked. His last two games produced under 200 passing yards. But the one good stat he has - no interceptions.123 pass attempts and not one interception. The new defense is playing well enough already that when the team makes no mistakes, they remain in the game. Even the one loss in Indianapolis came within three points. Ponder is not a fantasy quarterback but he is playing well enough to get the job done for the Vikings.

Adrian Peterson has not scored since the season opener and after 79 runs for 332 yards and a 4.2 rushing average, he is over his knee surgery. He may still be a tad slower trying to reach the edge laterally but he is mostly a north-south guy anyway and gets to face the #29 defense against running backs visiting this week. Peterson is already breaking off 10+ yard runs and should only get better as the season progresses.

Kyle Rudolph was the heartbreaker in week four since his two touchdown game against the 49ers prompted many fantasy owners to snatch him and start him only to watch his worst game of the year - two receptions for eight yards. Rudolph had been good for at least 35 yards each week but fell out of the gameplan in Detroit.

Jerome Simpson had his first game as a Viking and led all receivers with four receptions for 50 yards in Detroit. The Lions specifically plotted to limit Percy Harvin (3-22) who ended up scoring on a return anyway. Simpson's moderate debut is very encouraging since Michael Jenkins was never going to be more than a minimal addition to the offense. Simpson can stretch the field and should be better the more he gets to play with Ponder.

The Titans defense is bad. Bad against running backs and quarterbacks and the worst against tight ends. This should be a very nice win for the Vikings. I like a defensive score in this game.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 23 21 23 20 11 7
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 28 29 15 32 28 28

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.

BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

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