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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: CHI 27, DET 17 (Line: CHI by 3)

Players to Watch: Calvin Johnson

The Bears are still in the hunt for the final NFC wildcard though they will need some help to get there. That makes this remake of the week seven win in Detroit still have NFL meaning instead of just being a vehicle to see if Calvin Johnson can break 2,000 receiving yards for the first time in history. Nothing would make the Lions happier though they are on a seven game losing streak.

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 28-13
8 CAR 23-22 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN 51-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 240,2
RB Matt Forte 80,1 5-30
WR Alshon Jeffery 4-50,1
WR Brandon Marshall 8-120,1
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40

Pregame Notes: The Bears offense has sputtered most of the year thanks mostly to a terrible offensive line and then an injury to Jay Cutler who plays the part of a tackling dummy in most games. This is a must-win and thankfully comes against a team that the Bears have beaten in eight of the last nine meetings. The defense has struggled in recent weeks but Brian Urlacher could be back which would help. But the offense has always been about only two players - Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall.

Forte aggravated his right ankle injury last week and had to wear a walking boot. He is optimistic that he can play and since this is a gotta-win event, he'll be there if at all possible. He already rushed for 96 yards on 22 carries at home versus the Lions and added three catches for four yards. The Bears would have to rely on Kahlil Bell otherwise along with Armando Allen. Even a banged up Forte is better than those options.

Cutler passed for only 150 yards and one score in the previous meeting and was sacked the obligatory five times. Cutler has been good for a touchdown every week he played but his yardage has rarely topped 200 in recent weeks and he is not playing 100% healthy anyway.

Alshon Jeffrey is the clear #2 wideout here and yet that is still true despite the one catch he totaled over the last two weeks. Like Megatron on the other side of the field, Marshall is the beginning and end of the passing game and already stung the Lions for one touchdown on his six catches for 81 yards in week seven. He is currently on a three game scoring streak and has 11 touchdowns on the season along with seven 100+ yard games. He's already caught 113 passes for 1466 yards. This has been a remarkable year that has exceeded all expectations for Marshall even if his success comes literally at the expense of all other receivers.

This is a must win which means as heavy of a dose of Marshall and Forte as they can get away with. Outside of those two, there are no decent fantasy plays on this team.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 26 16 15 32 20 1
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 19 8 23 23 24 28

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI GB 0000026020 ***
Cutler's on a roll, with multiple TD tosses in every game this season. He threw for 262 and 2 the last time he faced Green Bay, and while the Packers have been relatively successful in limiting opposing passers thus far this year... well, did we mention Cutler is on a roll?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI GB 8016500000 ****
After a couple of disappointing weeks look for Forte to get back in the saddle against the Pack. Last year Forte produced 336 yards from scrimmage and four TDs in the two-game set, and now he catches a reeling Green Bay run D that's allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI GB 0071001000 ***
Jeffery was the understudy to Brandon Marshall in last season's series with Green Bay, but last week's 8-105 while Marshall hobbled on and off the field demonstrates he's just as capable of being a WR1. The Packers haven't surrendered much of anything to opposing wideouts thus far this season, so maybe the best course of action would be start whichever Bears wideout is healthiest--though that seems to change from snap to snap.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI GB 006501000 ***
Marshall has scored the last three times he's faced Green Bay, not to mention four TDs already this season. So if he's healthy enough to take the field he belongs in your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Santonio Holmes, CHI GB 002200000 ***
The Bears have yet to go three deep into their wide receivers; meanwhile it's been tough enough for opposing WR1s to find success against the Packers, let alone secondary targets. Holmes is an option only if either Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery is ruled out due to injury.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI GB 004400000 ****
Bennett has been money this season, in part capitalizing on one (or both) of Chicago's receivers missing time due to injury. The Packers have locked down tight ends, but with Brandon Marshall still hobbling the door remains ajar for Bennett to carve out fantasy value.
Update: Marshall did not practice all week due to his injured ankle. If he's active you almost have to play him given his track record this season, but be wary of a pre-kickoff scratch.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI GB 2233 ****
The Packers haven't been averse to giving up kicker points; Gould hasn't been opposed to scoring them. A solid fantasy option again this week.

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 10-38
7 @CHI 7-13 16 ATL 18-31
8 SEA 28-24 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC 31-14 ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 320,1
RB Joique Bell 6-50
RB Reggie Bush 60 2-20
RB Montell Owens 40,1 1-10
WR Calvin Johnson 12-160
WR Golden Tate 4-40
PK Alex Henery 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: it is fortunate that the season is winding down with Calvin Johnson setting an all-time NFL record because there would be little else worth noting. The offense has never taken off as it did in 2011 and once again suffered through not only rampant injuries but even had a receiver who somehow decided intentionally sabotaging plays was a good idea. The rushing game never saw Jahvid Best return but was able to squeeze an average year from Mikel Leshoure.

There are parts to build on for next year though Titus Young has played his last for the Lions if in the NFL at all. Nate Burleson was lost in week seven and Ryan Broyles was encouraging until he blew out his knee again. Broyles was a star in Oklahoma and should have been a lock for a nice NFL career but his knees apparently are going to stay in the way.

And yet through it all, Calvin Johnson has been amazing since the defenses all know exactly what is going to happen and yet they cannot stop him. Megatron has topped 100 yards in each of the last eight games and caught 10+ passes for the last four weeks. He gained 225 yards against the Falcons last week to break Jerry Rice's record. Now he only needs 108 yards yards to break 2,000 at home in front of all his fans in a season otherwise bleak and meaningless. And what is even better is that everyone has been happy for him and believes he deserves the accolades.

After seven straight losses and now facing a top 5 defense, the chance the Lions could pull off a trap win is hard to expect but outside of the Chicago area, this game will be watched just to see Johnson for the last time this year and likely securing what some thought could never be accomplished.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 8 12 6 7 6 28
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 4 3 11 3 3 20

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET @NYJ 0000030031 ***
Stafford hasn't been his rock star self of late, but a Jets defense that's surrendered multiple TD tosses in every game this year should be the cure for what ails.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Reggie Bush, DET @NYJ 2005401000 ***
Maybe Bush isn't losing touches to the degree we thought, but this week it won't hardly matter as starting any back against the Jets is fantasy folly: they're surrendering just 67 combo yards per game at only 3.5 yards per touch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET @NYJ 4004300000 ***
There is absolutely nothing to like about Bell's jobshare facing a Jets D that has yet to allow a RB TD and has surrendered just 105 rushing yards through three games at a less-than-robust 2.5 yards per carry.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET @NYJ 008901000 ***
Jordy Nelson blew up the Jets for 209 and a score, Alshon Jeffery had 105 yards... Megatron is the next NFC North receiver to dominate Gang Green.
Update: Johnson's only practice work this week came on a limited basis Friday... but you know the drill: if he's active on Sunday he's in your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @NYJ 006901000 ***
The Jets have allowed a secondary receiver to score in two of three this year, and Tate's targets suggest he's a prime candidate to make that three out of four.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Brandon Pettigrew, DET @NYJ 001200000 ***
The Lions aren't getting much out of their tight end collective--certainly not enough to warrant giving any one of them a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Alex Henery, DET @NYJ 1133 ***
The Lions afforded Nate Freese multiple field goal opportunities in every game, but Freese's inability to convert cost him his gig. It's a nice situation for Henery to walk into.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

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