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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  

Sortable Player Projections |  Projections by Team | Game Predictions Summary

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

Prediction: ATL 24, CHI 20

Players to Watch: Julio Jones, Roy Williams, Jacquizz Rodgers

Update: Roddy White is listed as probable and will play without any limitations from his bruised thigh. Marion Barber is already ruled out because of his calf injury.

The Falcons look like they are ready to contend for more than a mere divisional title this year. The team is stacked with talent and ready to get deeper into the playoffs with a pretty nice schedule to help them along their way. The Bears are into the second season of the Mike Martz offense but so far have not produced results that makes anyone think of the Greatest Show on Turf. Still the Bears are no push over and at home will bring the fight.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @CHI - 10 NO -
2 PHI - 11 TEN -
3 @TB - 12 MIN -
4 @SEA - 13 @HOU -
5 GB - 14 @CAR -
6 CAR - 15 JAC -
7 @DET - 16 @NO -
8 Bye - 17 TB -
9 @IND - - - -
Falcons Report | Statistics | Roster
ATLANTA at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan - - 240,2
RB Michael Turner 60,1 - -
TE Tony Gonzalez - 30,1 -
WR Julio Jones - 50 -
WR Roddy White - 70,1 -
WR Harry Douglas - 40 -
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: This should be the year for the Falcons offense with a solid ground game joined by what should be the best set of receivers in Atlanta since the days of the old run-and-shoot. The Falcons could easily be the new Packers who were the new Saints who were... so on. This is a big year and likely the last chance for Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez to not lose all value because of age.

QUARTERBACK: Matt Ryan has been on a solid progression that has seen him post 3705 yards and 28 touchdowns against only nine interceptions last season. The fourth-year player now has a full complement of receivers including the hot new rookie Julio Jones. The worst Ryan will do is a solid job but the upside this season is higher than ever.

The Bears are usually very good against the run at home so Ryan needs to be the one to get the win here.

RUNNING BACKS: Michael Turner has been very productive in his three seasons in Atlanta where he has never had fewer than ten scores and averages around 4.5 yards per carry. Turner is a big back at 247 pounds and is 29 years old. This is the year he needs to make it before hitting a wall.

Jason Snelling remains as the backup and relief player but a new face has been added. Jacquizz Rodgers has been added as a third down, change of pace sort of back in the vein of Jerious Norwood who never quite could make a difference. The Oregon State alum is a true complement at only 5'6" and 196 pounds. He could make a bigger splash than expected and carve himself out a role that could offer at least marginal fantasy value. He could bring an exciting element to the offense and offer a true lightning to Turner's thunder. It is worth watching to see what happens.

WIDE RECEIVERS: While Roddy White has been a stud wideout for the last four seasons, it may only be now that he doesn't have all the love from Matt Ryan. White has played across from Michael Jenkins who was miscast as a receiver instead of a blocking tight end. The Falcons acquired Julio Jones with their 1.06 pick and that is not merely to replace Jenkins pedestrian numbers. Jones is a play maker who has excited the coaches with the chance that there will be two elite wideouts on the Falcons. His production does not have to come at the expense of White, it can be in addition and that makes the difference between a good and great passing game.

Harry Douglas will remain in the slot but all eyes should be following Jones. He seems to be the real deal already.

No team managed to score more than once with their wideouts on the Bears, but the Falcons are bringing a better team than most. Consider White a must start every week of course but it is still early to consider Jones yet.

TIGHT ENDS: Tony Gonzalez enters his 15th season and is burying almost all tight end career records. He has slowed down to be sure but still turned in 656 yards on 70 catches with six scores last year. Only his yards per catch have really declined. He is a marginal producer by his own standards by now but still remains worthy of a fantasy start.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 15 7 15 13 5 12
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 8 7 11 9 6 28

Chicago Bears
Homefield: Soldier Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 ATL - 10 DET -
2 @NO - 11 SD -
3 GB - 12 @OAK -
4 CAR - 13 KC -
5 @DET - 14 @DEN -
6 MIN - 15 SEA -
7 @TB - 16 @GB -
8 Bye - 17 @MIN -
9 @PHI -      
Bears Report | Statistics | Roster
CHICAGO vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler - - 220, 2
RB Matt Forte 70 40,1 -
WR Roy Williams - 50 -
WR Devin Hester - 40 -
WR Earl Bennett - 40,1 -
WR Johnny Knox - 50 -
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears are into the second season of Mike Martz offense and have imported Roy Williams to make it work better. Playing outside in Chicago is hardly conducive to a complex pass happy attack but the Bears should see more success with it now that personnel have been adjusted to fit the scheme. The Bears have a tough three game start to the season and could have some nice player bargains from fantasy owners giving up on their players too early.

QUARTERBACK: Jay Cutler actually took a step backwards last year when he fell to only 3274 passing yards and 23 touchdowns in the new Mike Martz system. Cutler had to relearn how to quarterback as a gun slinger who had to adapt to more precise passing and more controlled play development. He should be improved this year though a shaky offensive line has not been his friend for the last two seasons.

RUNNING BACKS: Matt Forte should have a big year thanks to contract talks that have ended and everything on the line this year for a new deal next year. Forte has been strong in preseason games and camps and looks poised for a step up this year. He's playing the Marshall Faulk role in the offense and could see a bump up from the 51 catches for 547 yards and three scores of last year.

The Bears added Marion Barber from free agency and have been very pleased with him - enough to cut Chester Taylor loose. Barber could horn in on short yardage and goal line carries but that remains to be seen. Barber will not impinge on the receptions that Forte receives. There is not enough production to support two players in this backfield so Forte must excel and keep Barber as only relief.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The Bears brought in Roy Williams who was already familiar with the Martz system and had his career best year with him in Detroit when he gained 1310 yards and seven scores. Williams has never remotely approached those stats in the four years since and has not been particularly effective in any games or drills this summer. He still gets the nod as starter and he has some nice height (6-3) that could be used. But if he continues to disappoint, expect Johnny Knox to step up and offer better fantasy value. Devin Hester remains a starter as well with Knox and Earl Bennett figuring in.

This second season of the offense could still see the wideouts redefine themselves. It is worth tracking.

TIGHT ENDS: The departure of Greg Olsen signals that the tight end position is officially dead here.

Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 20 17 22 23 18 9
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 18 5 27 15 1 2

NO at GB (thu) CIN at CLE MIN at SD SEA at SF
BUF at KC DET at TB PHI at STL NE at MIA (mon)
  CAR at ARI IND at HOU PIT at BAL OAK at DEN (mon)

a d v e r t i s e m e n t