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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

Prediction: CHI 17, ARI 16 (Line: CHI by 5)

Players to Watch: Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, ARI Defense

The 8-6 Bears are on a three game losing streak and have lost five of their last six. They are 2-3 on the road and face the 5-9 Cardinals who just ended their eight game losing streak when they took down the visiting Lions after losing the previous week 0-58 in Seattle. This is a messy game because the Bears are very banged up and yet the Cardinals are just short of talent. Whatever happens here is not likely to involve a lot of points.

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 13-21
7 DET 13-7 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR 23-22 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN 51-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI @ ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 10 220,1
RB Curtis Brinkley 40 3-20
RB Matt Forte 70 5-40
RB Montell Owens 50 1-10
WR Domenik Hixon 3-40
WR Alshon Jeffery 3-40
WR Brandon Marshall 7-80,1
WR Josh Morgan 3-40
TE Martellus Bennett 5-50
PK Jay Feely 3 FG 1 XP
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Bears have gone from the top of the division to now having a very realistic chance of missing the playoffs all together. And with the way they are playing, it would not matter much anyway if they did show up in the postseason. Worst of all is an offense that has scored more than 17 points only once in the last six weeks. The Bears drew a tough schedule to be sure but by now they are so banged up and shaken up that even this game is by no means a certain win.

Jay Cutler is playing but admits that his neck is not 100% and it showed in the Packers game. His offensive line has been horrible all year and just lost a right tackle to make it a little worse. The final two games are on the road as well which will be no help. Cutler is getting pummeled every week and it is almost a miracle he has hung on this long. Then again, playing a clearly limited Cutler shows how little faith they have in Jason Campbell.

Matt Forte has been great in fantasy terms because he's recently gone back to adding five or six catches per week. He's been topping out around 60 rushing yards every week and has not ran in a score since back in week nine. Last week Michael Bush was never given a carry and Forte was allowed goal line duty but he never scored. Bush has been hampered by his sore ribs and the Bears are considering just placing him on injured reserve.

Alshon Jeffery had no catches last week despite four targets as the Bears passing attack literally has declined to looking for Brandon Marshall on every play and throwing him 15-20 passes every week. If the ball doesn't go to him, Cutler just checks down on a back like Forte. No other wideouts caught a pass last week - just Marshall, Forte and RB Armando Allen. Earl Bennett should return from his concussion this week but has no fantasy value.

This team has lost all fantasy value outside of Marshall who is force fed passes every week and Matt Forte. As bad as the Cardinals are - and they are plenty bad - their defense has not been the main problem. The chances that Patrick Peterson tries to climb Mount Marshall every play is very, very high.

I like a defensive score in this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 25 18 14 32 19 1
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 3 19 10 16 15 31

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI @MIN 0000026011 **
Cutler returns to the lineup, facing a team he's thrown for 620 yards and six touchdowns (with four INTs) against in the past two games. He won't have Brandon Marshall, but you have to think his "WTF" approach to throwing into coverage will be exacerbated in what could be his final game as a Bear. That's both good and bad; caution on using Cutler if you're penalized for picks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @MIN 8016500000 ***
Forte is working on a 10-game touchdown drought against the Vikings, but hopefully you play in a yardage league because he's had triple-digit combo yards in each of his last four against Minnesota. The Vikings have given up 100-plus combo yards to six of the last seven feature backs they've faced. PPR leaguers are also fond of the matchup; Forte has 25 catches in those same four against the Vikings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @MIN 0071001000 **
In his last two against the Vikings, Jeffery has 23 catches (not a misprint) for 384 yards and three TDs. With no Brandon Marshall to get in his way, all that stands between Jeffery and more monster numbers is a banged-up Xavier Rhodes.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marquess Wilson, CHI @MIN 003400000 ***
Wilson has been an adequate replacement for Brandon Marshall, but not necessarily someone you should be going out of your way to get into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @MIN 006600000 **
Bennett was nearly nonexistent with Jimmy Clausen at the helm last week, so he'll welcome the return of Jay Cutler. And on the heels of the Vikings giving up 149 yards and a TD to the position last week, Bennett will be happy to be facing Minnesota as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jay Feely, CHI @MIN 1122 ***
Hope Feely didn't opt for performance-based pay, as the Bears have provided him with exactly zero field goal opportunities since signing him to replace the wounded Robbie Gould one month ago. He could match the three points Gould scored in the earlier meeting with Minnesota, but that's hardly enough to stir the fantasy pot.

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 38-10
7 @MIN 14-21 16 CHI -----
8 SF 3-24 17 @SF -----
9 @GB 17-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Lindley 130
QB Carson Palmer 240,1
RB Beanie Wells 50,1
WR Larry Fitzgerald 4-40

Pregame Notes: Every so often you see a game score that just begs a closer look at the box score. The Cardinals beating the Lions 38-10 was one of those games. Even after looking at it, the win is still a head scratcher coming after eight straight losses and coming off a 0-58 humiliation. IT ends up that the offense is still plenty bad but the defense showed up and used four turnovers to their advantage.

When Beanie Wells scores three times in one game, it meant it went really well since he only had two scores over the first 13 games of the year. Wells rushed for 67 yards on 17 runs which was his season high on carries and yards as well. Remarkably, he had two home games since returning in week 12 and totaled all five of his touchdowns in those two efforts. He faces a solid defense this week though and at best he has to hope his defense can get him the field position again.

Ryan Lindley passed for only 104 yards on the Lions but that is his second best game of the year and he still has not actually thrown a touchdown in the NFL. This has left Larry Fitzgerald with a weekly stat line that is actually hard to stomach. He has not scored since week nine and has not been above 31 yards in any game. There is no more fantasy value in any of this offense now that Fitzgerald has been completely neutered.

This week could be when the Cards are the ones coming off a big win and play flat but by this point there is no distinguishing what "flat" and "normal" looks like in Arizona. Flat is the new normal. The defense might make it interesting and could keep the Cards in the game but the offense yet again won't have a lot to do with it.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 31 30 28 30 28 7
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 6 4 11 9 3 20

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Logan Thomas, ARI @SF 0000020011 *
If rookie Derek Carr can throw for 254 and 3 against the Niners, why not Thomas? Well, Carr was 13 games into his rookie season; Thomas has thrown nine NFL passes--and completed exactly one.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Kerwynn Williams, ARI @SF 800000000 ***
Despite Williams being the more effective back the Cardinals have turned to Stepfan Taylor with Andre Ellington out of the mix. Maybe they'll need to lean on both with Logan Thomas under center, but against the 49ers there's not much fantasy value--certainly not enough to be split two ways.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Stepfan Taylor, ARI @SF 3002200000 ***
Andre Ellington did minimal damage (18-62 rushing, 3-13 receiving) in the earlier matchup with San Francisco; Taylor had two yards on one carry. The ground game will need to step up in support of rookie QB Logan Thomas, but it certainly isn't a favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR John Brown, ARI @SF 005601000 *
Brown scored twice in the earlier matchup with the Niners, and it's not uncommon for depth receivers to have success against San Fran: among the tertiary targets who have scored against them are Paul Richardson and Wes Welker. Plus, with Logan Thomas at the helm you can expect Bruce Arians to take some deep shots. Just know that there's a tremendous amount of risk with anything associated with the Arizona passing game with a first-time starter at quarterback.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Floyd, ARI @SF 004600000 **
Floyd's speed gave the Niners problems in the earlier matchup, and QB Logan Thomas' one NFL completion did go for 81 yards so if you're grasping at straws you could hope for a home run completion. But considering Thomas is also 1-for-9 career, there's plenty of risk of strikeout.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jaron Brown, ARI @SF 002200000 ***
Brown is better known as "The Other One" when he swipes a touchdown from erstwhile third receiver John Brown. Such a tertiary target isn't a fantasy option with a first-time driver at the wheel for the Cards.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI @SF 002200000 **
Fitz was an afterthought in the earlier meeting, catching just three balls for 34 yards while Arizona bombed away to John Brown and Michael Floyd. Logan Thomas might be more inclined to look at Larry as a security blanket, but considering the matchup, the quarterback, and Fitz's struggles this year you can find better fantasy options elsewhere.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, ARI @SF 2211 ***
The good news is, Arizona's offensive struggles have mean nine field goals for Catanzaro over the past three games. The bad news is, Arizona's offensive struggles have yielded one PAT for Catanzaro in the past five games. If you believe in Logan Thomas, making his first NFL start in San Francisco, go ahead and chase Catanzaro's threes. Maybe.

WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

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