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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

Prediction: DET 27, ARI 13 (Line: DET by 6 )

Players Updated: Ryan Lindley

Players to Watch: Calvin Johnson, Megatron, WR Johnson

The 4-9 Lions are on a five game losing skid and are only 2-5 on the road this year. But the 4-9 Cardinals are on a nine game losing streak. These teams have the same record but not much else is similar. The Lions last four losses came by a touchdown or less. The Cardinals just lost by 58 points last week. That is hard to bounce back from and especially without a quarterback.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 STL 27-23 10 @MIN 24-34
2 @SF 19-27 11 GB 20-24
3 @TEN 41-44 12 HOU 31-34
4 MIN 13-20 13 IND 33-35
5 BYE ----- 14 @GB 20-27
6 @PHI 26-23 15 @ARI -----
7 @CHI 7-13 16 ATL -----
8 SEA 28-24 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC 31-14 ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET @ ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 290,2
RB Joique Bell 30 5-40
WR Calvin Johnson 8-120,2
WR Lance Moore 7-90
WR Golden Tate 4-60
TE Brandon Pettigrew
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions have just about perfected "not quite good enough" but have a realistic chance of winning a road game this week. The last two games come at home but go against division leaders of the Bears and Falcons which is probably not going to go well. Once again, the Lions are just playing for little more than the glory of Calvin Johnson since that is about all they have left to play for.

Johnson has already gained 1546 yards on 96 receptions with three games left to play. He is on pace to break the all-time single season record of 1848 yards set by Jerry Rice and it would be a fitting accolade to the player that has meant so much to the Lions and a positive way to end an otherwise dreary season. The Cardinals are typically good against wide receivers though this is the same team that watched Brian Hartline go off for 253 yards back in week four. Besides, it is hardly like every defense has not been plotting against Johnson every week.

Matthew Stafford tends to throw for fewer yards when he is on the road but still is good for at least one score every week if not multiples. With Ryan Broyles and Titus Young gone, the offense is devolving into little more than pitch-and-catch with Megatron anyway. Stafford has added four rushing touchdowns so far.

Mikel Leshoure snapped his three game scoring streak last week in Green Bay but did score four times in road games this year. The Cardinals defense has been good at home against the run but has allowed a 100 yard rusher in each of the last four games. Something about futility not being a great motivator. The wheels are coming off the Cardinals wagon and even the opposing running backs are having fun there.

In a fantasy sense, there is just Calvin Johnson on this team. Brandon Pettigrew is hobbled with a sore ankle and may not play this week. Tony Scheffler was due to get more work but settled for just three catches and 20 yards in Green Bay though one was his first touchdown of the year. The Lions are so thin at wideout that they called up a practice player Kris Durham from the minor league practice squad and made him a starter. His first ever start resulted in nine targets, four catches and 54 yards. There is just nothing reliable here in the passing game outside of Johnson.

Coming off a 58 point shutout means the Cards will want to have a good game here and have absolutely none of the tools to accomplish that.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 5 10 6 6 4 26
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 4 9 13 4 11 30

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET @CHI 0000026020 ***
Stafford carved up the Bears for 405 and 4 in the earlier meeting, but that was at home; he's only thrown multiple scores once in six visits to Chicago. A 242 and 2 performance in Green Bay in Week 10--his last game outdoors, by the way--provides hope, as do multiple scoring strikes in five straight.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Theo Riddick, DET @CHI 2006400000 ***
The Lions' pass-catching back was also their most productive in the earlier meeting with Chicago, and you have to like his chances against a defense that's given up more RB receiving scores (7) than rushing TDs (6).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET @CHI 3002200000 ***
Just when it looked like the Lions were going to test-drive their second-round pick as their feature back of the future, they stopped giving him carries: he hasn't seen double-digit totes since 13-67 against the Packers a month ago. Maybe it's the fumbles. Whatever the reason, Abdullah is fighting an uphill battle for relevancy in his own backfield, which makes his fantasy fight that much more difficult.

Update: Abdullah was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury--further dimming his fantasy prospects for this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET @CHI 200000000 ***
The upside is that Bell is getting goal line looks; the downside is that the Bears have allowed only six RB rushing scores all season, so the goal line looks might be scarce.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET @CHI 004701000 ***
Only five WRs have scored on the Bears since three Lions wideouts--including Megatron--found the end zone against Chicago in Week 6. And none have topped 100 yards since two Lions--including Calvin--did so in that earlier meeting. But Johnson owns the Bears, having scored or topped 100 yards in five straight meetings, so business as usual here.

Update: Johnson practiced just once this week, and then on a limited basis, due to his lingering ankle injury. So weigh that against the optimism of his career history against the Bears.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @CHI 007701000 ***
Tate sang lead vocals for a little while but Calvin Johnson is back on the mic now, relegating Tate to leftovers. Against a secondary that's allowed only six WR TDs and one 100-yard game in the past 10 weeks, that's not a very big fantasy plate.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET @CHI 004500000 ***
Tim Wright, replacing the injured Ebron, scored in the earlier meeting with the Bears. Ebron is back in the starter's role but has just one score in the past eight games so he's a fringe fantasy helper at best.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @CHI 1122 ***
Three points per game less
outside than in; has not kicked
outdoors since Week 10

Arizona Cardinals
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SEA 20-16 10 BYE -----
2 @NE 20-18 11 @ATL 19-23
3 PHI 27-6 12 STL 17-31
4 MIA 24-21 13 @NYJ 6-7
5 @STL 3-17 14 @SEA 0-58
6 BUF 16-19 15 DET -----
7 @MIN 14-21 16 CHI -----
8 SF 3-24 17 @SF -----
9 @GB 17-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 250,2
RB Chris Johnson 70,1 3-20
WR Larry Fitzgerald 5-50,1
WR Michael Floyd 4-50
TE Jermaine Gresham 5-50

Pregame Notes: What to say about a team devoid of any fantasy relevance that just lost 0-58 in one of the all-time bad beats in recent history. It was like one of those first week college games where some Div. III PoDunk Univ. somehow gets a game against Alabama. In Alabama. That loss comes at a time when the Cardinals are already on a horrific losing streak. And it wasn't like Seattle rolled the score up Patriot-style. They yanked Marshawn Lynch from the game after 11 carries because he already had three touchdowns and 128 yards. It could have been much worse.

The owner Bill Bidwell has already said that HC Ken Whisenhunt will remain through the season which is another way of saying start cold calling your coaching buddies for a assistant gig next year. With the Bears and 49ers left to play, it is not going to get any better. This is one of the worst teams in recent history and that's on more than just the head coach - the quality of players he's saddled with has been sub-standard outside of Larry Fitzgerald.

The Cardinals picked up Brian Hoyer off waivers from the Steelers but he's not expected to play until maybe next week when he has a uniform, a playbook and has met some of his new team mates. Whisenhunt has not yet named a starter but it really doesn't matter. Kevin Kolb is out and picking between John Skelton or Ryan Lindley is like deciding which hammer to use to whack yourself in the head. It's just going to hurt no matter what.

Beanie Wells is three games away from finishing an NFL season and never gaining as much as 50 yards in any game.

Larry Fitzgerald is unstartable now along with all other players in Arizona. For the next three games, they will combine to provide an excellent way to score points for the Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco defenses while no doubt allowing opponents to shine just when you need them the most. To that I say thank you Arizona.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 29 32 21 30 25 9
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 19 11 21 29 24 28

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Carson Palmer, ARI SEA 0000026020 ***
Been a while since the Seahawks saw a legit threat at quarterback. How long? Keen, Manziel, Clausen, Bridgewater, Roethlisberger (who threw for 456 yards but only one TD), Gabbert... almost two months back to Palmer's 363 and 3 in Seattle. With a shot at home field throughout the playoffs on the line the Cards will turn Palmer loose early, giving him a legit shot at solid fantasy numbers even in the face of a tough matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB David Johnson, ARI SEA 8014400000 ***
It won't be easy against the top RB defense, but Johnson has 120 or more combo yards in each of his four starts since taking over for the injured Chris Johnson, with five touchdowns in that span. The last time Arizona faced this defense CJ and Andre Ellington combined for 119 and 1 on the ground while DJ touched the ball just once (for eight yards). So... tough, yes, but not impossible.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR John Brown, ARI SEA 004501000 ***
Brown was still battling a hamstring injury and targeted just three times without a catch in the earlier meeting with Seattle. He's the third wheel in this offense, but that might just mean he draws lesser coverage so don't bench up just because you fear the matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI SEA 006501000 ***
Fitz has taken a back seat to other members of the Arizona receiving corps for the better part of three months. However, his touchdown last week and 10-130 in the earlier matchup with Seattle suggest that just because he's not the top target on his team doesn't mean he won't help your fantasy squad.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Floyd, ARI SEA 003300000 **
Floyd owns 40 percent of the WR TDs allowed by the Seahawks this season, and he's accounted for a third of the 100-yard WR games they've given up as well. With the Legion of Boom spread thin across Arizona's sterling receiving corps, plenty of opportunity for Floyd this week.

Update: Floyd missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and was limited on Friday by a knee injury. He's listed as questionable, but there's mostly optimism in Arizona that he'll be available this weekend.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, ARI SEA 2233 ***
Season-high thirteen
last time he faced the Seahawks
Like his chances here

WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

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