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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: GB 24, CHI 20 (Line: GB by 3 )

Players Updated: Jordy Nelson

Players to Watch: Alex Green, Matt Forte

This is high noon in the NFC North and a win by the Packers secures the division and keeps the Packers at least in the race for a first round bye depending on the 49ers who are a half game ahead. A win by the Bears throws the division into a tie at the top with two games left to play. This is as big as a non-playoff game is going to get in the division.

The Packers already won the first meeting 23-10 in Green Bay.

Green Bay Packers
Homefield: Lambeau Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SF 22-30 10 BYE -----
2 CHI 23-10 11 @DET 24-20
3 @SEA 12-14 12 @NYG 10-38
4 NO 28-27 13 MIN 23-14
5 @IND 27-30 14 DET 27-20
6 @HOU 42-24 15 @CHI -----
7 @STL 30-20 16 TEN -----
8 JAC 24-15 17 @MIN -----
9 ARI 31-17 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
GB @ CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers 20,1 210,1
RB DuJuan Harris 20,1
WR Randall Cobb 4-50
WR Jordy Nelson
TE Jermichael Finley 3-40
PK Mason Crosby 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: There is a chance of snow in this game and last week was not a banner performance for Aaron Rodgers when it snowed. He was held to only 173 passing yards at home by the Lions and the Packers went to a run heavy attack, using 27 rushes to only 24 passes. The Packers won the game and were effective rushing the ball which draws plenty of concern to fantasy owners who hold Rodgers or Packers receivers.

Rodgers only passed for 219 yards and one score in the last meeting with the Bears and this time around Brian Urlacher will not be playing which will make the run even more effective. This is the same Bears team that lost to the Vikings even though they held them to only 91 passing yards (thank you Adrian Peterson). Rodgers threw no touchdowns in a home game for the first time in 35 games at Lambeau Field.

What did work last week was Alex Green rushing 13 times to gain 69 yards and newly on the scene Dujuan Harris gaining 31 yards on seven carries. Ryan Grant even played but only was allowed one carry and gained 13 yards. The last meeting with these teams was when Cedric Benson rushed for 81 yards on 20 carries. Chicago defensive injuries will hurt their run stopping and unlike playing the Vikings, they cannot elect to ignore the passing of Aaron Rodgers.

Jordy Nelson was out with a bad hamstring last week but has not been ruled out for this game and HC Mike McCarthy was optimistic that he would play. I will project him as limited and adjust later in the week as more progress is known. The last meeting with the Bears had Tom Crabtree scoring on his only catch in the game on a fake field goal attempt while Jermichael Finley was held to just 26 yards on four catches. Donald Driver also caught a score on his only catch in that game. Randall Cobb was shut down with only one catch for 20 yards and the top receiver was Nelson with six receptions for 84 yards.

The Bears defense has taken a step back from that week two game but that doesn't mean the Packers will have an easy time and this is being played in Chicago possibly in bad weather. RCB Tim Jennings is playing injured which would help Nelson if he plays but the loss of Urlacher is the most telling.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points GB 7 30 1 14 26 19
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 5 3 10 14 5 21

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Aaron Rodgers, GB @CHI 10000027031 ***
The last time we saw Rodgers he was being thrown to the Lambeau turf by the Bears; that was two months ago. Maybe he returns in time for this do-or-die NFC North battle, but there would be a lot of rust to shake off.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB @CHI 12012100000 **
Two months ago Lacy rushed for 150 yards and a score against the Bears, kicking off a stretch in which the Bears have allowed eight 100-yard rushers in eight games--along with 10 RB rushing scores in that span. Assuming he's healthy enough to play, he's money this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James Starks, GB @CHI 300000000 ****
If Eddie Lacy can't go this week Starks is a great fallback plan. He had 40 yards and a touchdown on limited carries in the earlier meeting with Chicago, averaged 4.7 yards per carry in relief of Lacy last week, and is poised to push the Packers into the postseason if Lacy is out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB @CHI 0071001000 ****
Giving up so much on the ground cuts into receiver production against Chicago; they haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 3. They have, however, served up five WR TDs in the past four games. Nelson would be a fantasy stud once again if Aaron Rodgers plays; if it's Matt Flynn, he's a nice play with upside but nowhere near a must-start.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarrett Boykin, GB @CHI 003501000 **
With the return of Aaron Rodgers the entire Green Bay passing game gets a lift--especially secondary targets like Boykin. Of course, that lift will take a hit if Randall Cobb gets healthy and takes snaps away from Boykin.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB @CHI 003200000 ***
Quarless has had a couple decent games in the past month, and while the Bears have only allowed five TE TDs on the year no team has given up more yardage to the position. Still, much of Quarless' fantasy value depends on whether or not it's Aaron Rodgers at the helm.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB @CHI 1144 ****
Crosby has been the tortoise, a steady contributor with just two games of less than seven points all season long. He can handle the elements and will be banked on for points in a must-win game for the Packers, so he definitely has fantasy upside this week.

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 14-21
6 BYE ----- 15 GB -----
7 DET 13-7 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR 23-22 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN 51-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI vs GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 220,1
RB Matt Forte 90,1 4-20
WR Alshon Jeffery 3-40
WR Brandon Marshall 9-80,1
WR Josh Morgan 3-40,1
TE Martellus Bennett 5-50

Pregame Notes: The Bears were nearly without Jay Cutler again after he injured his neck last week. But he is expected to be able to play this week though he may miss some practices along the way. This is the biggest game of the year for the Bears who still have to finish out with two road efforts that won't be easy at least in Detroit. Losing last week to the Vikings only served to show the problems with the defense when Adrian Peterson ran wild and beat them despite the lack of passing in that game.

Cutler was only able to throw for 126 yards and one score in that previous meeting that also included four interceptions and seven sacks - all season worsts. What matters here is if LB Clay Mathews and FS Charles Woodson return this week as they are hoped to do. Playing without them have made the Packers defense far less problematic as the Giants proved last week.

Matt Forte only ran seven times for 31 yards in that first meeting and added four catches for 49 yards. He's coming off his best game in six weeks when he ran for 85 yards against the Vikings and added a season best six catches for 34 yards. Michael Bush was only ran one time last week and has become a nonfactor despite gaining 60 yards and two scores on the same Vikings only two weeks prior.

The good news is that Alshon Jeffrey is back and scored on his three receptions for 57 yards last week. Without him, the Bears are purely one-dimensional in the passing game with Brandon Marshall getting 14+ passes every week and currently on a three game streak with 10+ catches in each. Marshall already has seven games over 100 yards but had his worst game of the season back in week two when he only caught two passes for 24 yards in Green Bay.

This game is going to hinge a bit on the playing status of Woodson and especially Clay Mathews. As the season progresses and the weather turns colder, the more that Forte is going to be featured. Marshall is going to get double digit targets every week anyway but if Woodson returns it will help the Packers secondary.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 26 13 16 31 12 1
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 13 19 20 8 14 7

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI GB 0000026021 ****
Four straight quarterbacks have thrown for multiple touchdowns against the Packers, something Josh McCown also did back in the Week 9 meeting between these clubs. You'll have to trust Cutler to bounce back from 222 & 1 in last week's 54-11 shellacking at the hands of the Eagles, but he had multiple touchdowns in each of the four previous home games he both started and finished so it shouldn't take a great leap of faith.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI GB 8015300000 ***
The Packers have allowed 100-yard rushers in two straight, four of five, and six of eight--a stretch that includes Forte's 125 & 1 back in Week 9. Five of those six 100-yard backs (including Forte) also scored touchdowns. No Clay Matthews, a motivated Bears team gunning for a playoff spot... it all adds up to a very nice fantasy day for Forte.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI GB 005801000 ****
Jeffery's 5-60-1 against Green Bay in the earlier meeting, coupled with Jay Cutler's slight preference for Brandon Marshall, relegate Jeffery to the WR2 role. No biggie: secondary targets have scored in three of four and six of eight against the Pack, so it's all good for Alshon.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI GB 005701000 ***
Doesn't matter if Marshall is WR1 or WR2, though his 13 targets and 7-107-1 in the earlier meeting with Green Bay suggest he's still the alpha. WR1s have topped 100 yards in four of six against the Pack and either scored or topped 100 yards in six of eight. Marshall has 100 yards or a touchdown in three straight and seems to be Jay Cutler's favorite--good news for his fantasy prospects this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI GB 003400000 ***
It's been a while since Bennett found the end zone, but he has 156 yards in the past two games as an alternative to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. And against a Packers defense that's allowed TE TDs in three straight, Bennett just might make his way back to the end zone as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI GB 2244 ***
Gould tallied nine points in his last meeting with the Packers, has hit double-digits in his last two at home, and will be kicking to get the Bears into the playoffs. Not a bad combo if you're looking for points.

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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