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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

Prediction: CHI 27, Adrian Peterson 20 (Line:CHI by 3)

Players Updated: Earl Bennett, Michael Bush

Players to Watch: Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson

The 8-4 Bears travel to Minnesota with a 3-2 road record and face the 6-6 Vikings who are on a two game losing streak. This is a replay of week 12 - just two games ago - when the Bears won handily 28-10 in Chicago.

Chicago Bears
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 IND 41-21 10 HOU 6-13
2 @GB 10-23 11 @SF 7-32
3 STL 23-6 12 MIN 28-10
4 @DAL 34-18 13 SEA 17-23
5 @JAC 41-3 14 @MIN -----
6 BYE ----- 15 GB -----
7 DET 13-7 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR 23-22 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN 51-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI @ MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 20 240,2
RB Matt Forte 70 5-40,1
WR Brandon Marshall 8-120,1
TE Martellus Bennett 5-50,1
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Bears are not going to catch up to the 11-1 Falcons but they are a half game behind the 49ers who they lost to in week 11. That makes getting a #2 seed daunting and a home game versus the 8-4 Packers looms on the other side of this game for what will likely be the divisional title. That makes looking past this week something that the Bears cannot afford to do since every win is important and in particular divisional wins since the Packers already beat Chicago back in week two.

Jay Cutler passed for 188 yards and one score in the first meeting with the Vikes in his first game back from a concussion. He's thrown for multiple scores in the last three road games along with healthy yardage.

Matt Forte only gained 42 yards on 14 runs when the Vikings visited but left that game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He was able to play against the Seahawks just last week when he ran 21 times for 66 yards and added three catches for 30 yards and one touchdown. He'll be healthy entering this game and Michael Bush accounted for 21 runs and 60 yards replacing Forte in that game. Bush also rushed in two touchdowns as well. The 126 rush yards and two scores are why Cutler did not need to throw as much in the last matchup.

As always, only Brandon Marshall matters in the passing game and he turned in a season high 12 catches for 92 yards on the Vikings. Just last week versus the Seahawks, Marshall was able to rack up ten receptions for a season best 165 yards. The equation is not hard to decipher here - Forte runs and catches the ball, add in a little Michael Bush and then throw every other pass to Marshall. That gets you to 8-4 tied for the division lead.

There is still an outside chance that Alshon Jeffrey returns this week to a limited role since it has been over two weeks since he had his knee scoped. LC Brian Urlacher will miss this and the next couple of games with a hamstring strain which will not hurt the stats of Adrian Peterson.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 28 14 18 31 9 1
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 22 16 11 20 14 12

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI @NYJ 0000029031 ****
Cutler has multiple TD tosses in each game this year; the Jets have allowed multiple touchdown passes to both Aaron Rodgers (expected) and--in his NFL debut--Derek Carr (far from expected). Assuming one or both of Cutler's top targets manage to make it to the field, he's a rock-solid fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @NYJ 5006400000 ****
Forte is scoreless on the season, and he'll get no help from a stout Jets' run defense. The saving grace is Forte's contribution to the passing game, though he's still facing an uphill battle to provide his usual fantasy stud-ness.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @NYJ 0081002000 ****
Even nicked up Marshall was a rock star last week; no reason to sit him against a Jets defense that just got light up for 209 yards by Jordy Nelson and two TDs by Randall Cobb.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @NYJ 005701000 **
If the Raiders can have multiple receivers find the end zone against the Jets, surely a healthy (or at least healthier) Jeffery can join Brandon Marshall in the fantasy winner's circle this week.
Update: Jeffery practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, leaving him as a game-time decision once again. Last week that didn't work out so well for him; maybe this week it's Jeffery's term to have a Brandon Marshall-esque rise from the ashes of an injury?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Santonio Holmes, CHI @NYJ 002200000 ****
Right now Holmes is the third wheel on Chicago's tandem bike of a passing game. Unless one of the starters is ruled out this week, Holmes is an unusable fantasy commodity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @NYJ 006300000 ***
The Jets haven't surrendered much to opposing tight ends, but Bennett serves as the Bears' de facto WR3--and gets an upgrade when one or both of the starters are hobbled or out. He's targeted enough so as to defy the difficult matchup and remain a viable fantasy play.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @NYJ 2233 ****
The Jets provide a situation where bad offenses get nothing and good offenses often have to settle for field goals. That bodes well for Gould, who was forced to count by ones last week against the Niners.

Minnesota Vikings
Homefield: Metrodome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 JAC 26-23 ot 10 DET 34-24
2 @IND 20-23 11 BYE -----
3 SF 24-13 12 @CHI 10-28
4 @DET 20-13 13 @GB 14-23
5 TEN 30-7 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS 26-38 15 @STL -----
7 ARI 21-14 16 @HOU -----
8 TB 17-36 17 GB -----
9 @SEA 20-30 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Christian Ponder 10 180,1
RB Adrian Peterson 120,1 6-40
WR Greg Jennings 5-60
WR Jarius Wright 3-50
TE Kyle Rudolph 6-60,1
PK Blair Walsh 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The killer schedule is still drawing blood and these final four games could all be losses - the Vikings will be underdogs in each. This is a replay of just two weeks ago when the Vikings lost by 18 points and the offense is struggling outside of Adrian Peterson. Greatly struggling. Enough so that now HC Leslie Frazier gets the weekly task of throwing his support behind his starting quarterback.

Christian Ponder has only gotten worse as the season progressed and he's only scored six times over the last six games while throwing seven interceptions and four times failing to pass for more than 160 yards. In Chicago, he was only good for 159 yards and one score with both an interception and turnover.Last week was 119 yards and one score in Green Bay.

Ponder is getting little help outside of Kyle Rudolph who scored in Chicago with 55 yards on five catches. The second-year tight end scored in each of the last three games while remaining just above 50 yards in each and on this offense that is wildly productive.

Percy Harvin remains out and with him any chance of a success passing effort. Harvin was initially hoped to return last week but that never happened. He has been diagnosed with a Grade 3 ankle sprain which involves a completely torn ligament. He may be able to play this week but will require pain injections to do so. In his place Jarius Wright has been of little help along with every other wideout. There is no element of this passing offense that contains fantasy relevancy.

Adrian Peterson literally is carrying the entire offense. He is on a six game streak of 100+ yard games including 210 yards and a score in Green Bay last week. He scored in each of those six games except, of course, the Bears game in Chicago when he "only" managed 108 yards on 18 runs but added six receptions for 30 yards. Peterson currently stands at 1446 rushing yards which is a pace that would end at 1928 yards. He's actually been far more productive as the season progresses and, sadly, as the rest of the offense disappears. Fortunately the Vikings are not squandering Peterson prime years by forcing him to carry the team. No wait. That is exactly what is happening. Imagine Peterson playing in a high powered offense. With a good quarterback.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 27 12 30 16 6 21
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 3 3 7 19 8 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Cassel, MIN @NO 0000020012 ***
If the Vikings really want the passing game to pick up the slack left by Adrian Peterson's absence, they'll turn to Teddy Bridgewater. Cassel will continue as a placeholder who can't be banked on for fantasy contributions.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN @NO 6012100000 ***
Asiata isn't going to dazzle anyone with his three yards per carry, though his work in the passing game last week was a welcome surprise. Keep expectations in check and hope for a goal line look to salvage Asiata's fantasy day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN @NO 4005600000 ***
The Vikings need to get the ball into Patterson's hands as often as possible. Emphasis on "need". And "often". Given those parameters, he's bound to carve out some fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN @NO 004500000 ***
The secondary--maybe thirdary, if you include Kyle Rudolph--target in a non-productive passing game doesn't exactly whet the fantasy whistle.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN @NO 005601000 ****
Rudolph scored in Week 1, topped 50 yards last week, and after Cordarrelle Patterson is about all the Vikings' passing game has going for it. Given that the undermanned Vikings are likely to be playing catch-up here, he should see plenty of opportunities--enough to boost his fantasy stock.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN @NO 1122 ***
Opportunities are bound to be hard to come by for Walsh, though any time the Vikings cross midfield he's in range--especially indoors.

WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

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