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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 10 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at IND HOU at TB SF at CIN CLE at DEN NYG at NO
BUF at TEN JAX at NE SEA at STL CAR at ARZ Mon 9 PM
DAL at WAS MIN at CHI Sun 4 PM GB at SD PHI at MIA
DET at KC PIT at NYJ BAL at OAK *updated Times EST
   
Minnesota vs Chicago Sun, Dec 14; 1 PM on FOX at Soldier Field
  Minnesota Rush Catch Pass
QB Daunte Culpepper 20 0 240,2
RB Michael Bennett 50 10 0
RB Moe Williams 50,1 30 0
TE J. Kleinsasser 0 40,1 0
WR Randy Moss 0 60,1 0
WR Kelly Campbell 0 50 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 30 0
  Chicago Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 10 0 150
RB Anthony Thomas 70,1 20 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 30 0
WR Marty Booker 0 40 0
WR Dez White 0 40 0
WR David Terrell 0 20 0

Game Prediction: MIN 24, CHI 7

Update: Moe Williams has practiced without any problems and Michael Bennett is expected to practice on Friday. He appears to be likely to play on Sunday and I am including him in the projections.

Time to throw the rookie into the mix.

Grossman should be starting this week and the Vikes are not featuring the NFL's best secondary. But even with Bennett on the shelf potentially, Minnesota still has enough to post points in this game while the Bears enter into the matchup not sure what they have. The important factor - it is not Kordell.

Minnesota Notes

The Vikings rise to 8-5 and remain one game ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North.

Quarterbacks:: Last week, Daunte Culpepper threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns and now has multiple touchdowns in 11 of 13 games this season. He also had no turnovers last week, the first time that has happened in four weeks.

In the last meeting with the Bears in week two, Culpepper threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns, adding 17 yards on seven runs. Last year against the Bears, he threw for 234 yards and scored twice in Chicago, and had 216 yards and one score against them in Minnesota. Culpepper does not normally have big days against Chicago due to their better than average cornerbacks.

Running Backs: Michael Bennett ran for 103 yards on 25 carries against the Seahawks and added 12 more on two catches. Moe Williams has moved even farther down the pecking order, gaining only 28 yards on eight carries and adding 29 on three catches. Back when the Bears visited in week two, Moe Williams had 108 yards on 21 carries with one touchdown and Onterrio Smith gained 47 yards on nine runs.

Onterrio Smith was given four carries last week that he turned into 40 yards but the game was already in hand.

Michael Bennett is questionable to play due to his sore ankle and pending later news, I am assuming he is out this week. Updates as warranted. Moe Williams sprained his left knee last week but an MRI did not show any damage and he is expected to play against the Bears.

Receivers: Randy Moss had 133 yards on eight catches and scored two touchdowns in his patented "doesn't this look easy" style. No matter than he was doubled on one score and tripled on the other. When the ball is there, he could have all 11 defenders around him and still come up with the catch.

Moss was also aided by Kelly Campbell who had 60 yards on three catches and a score on yet another Culpepper bomb. When Culpepper gets hot, the red zone is just something the receivers run through on the way to the endzone.

Randy Moss only had 27 yards on four catches against the Bears in their last meeting and last season had 58 yards in Chicago though he scored once.

Jim Kleinsasser has a bicep injury which slowed him down last week but is expected to play on Sunday.

Match against the Defense: Moss never has big games against the Bears since Chicago has decent cornerbacks. They try to hide it and do not like to admit it, but the Chicago secondary is very underrated. But Culpepper has been his best when he is on the road - all three of his 300 yard games came as a visitor.

Culpepper will throw for over 200 yards against the Bears but rarely more than 250 since they are one team that is better at containing Moss. Chicago gave up two passing scores to Favre and Bulger who were the only good quarterbacks to visit (and that includes any CHI has brought to the game). Look for Culpepper and Moss to connect for one score but more than that would be unusual and Moss should fall short of 100 yards as he normally does against the Bears. Culpepper has not historically ran much against the Bears as well.

The Bears will yield decent yardage to good runners and Moe Williams has already had 108 yards against them. With Bennett possibly out, Williams will need to reassume more of the rushing load though Onterrio Smith may be brought in to spell him or give a change of pace look.

Chicago Notes

The Bears fall to 5-8 and now may start a full musical quarterback system.

Quarterbacks:: Kordell Stewart threw for 256 yards and one score last week, easily his most productive game. The problem is that he also threw three interceptions which killed the Bear's chances.

Back in week two, Kordell Stewart only threw for 137 yards and one touchdown against the Vikings, and only gained 25 yards rushing. His only score came on one bomb to Marty Booker which inflated his numbers.

The Bears are now leaning towards giving Rex Grossman a shot this week and I am projecting for the rookie to start.

Running Backs: Chicago only used Anthony Thomas on nine runs last week even though he was said to be completely over his viral pneumonia. He gained 22 yards and Brock Forsey lost four yards on his three carries just to ensure the fans did not harbor fond memories of the previous week.

Thomas only gained 53 yards in his last game against Minnesota, though he only had ten carries. He had no catches in that game. With a rookie quarterback in his first start, Thomas should be relied on even more than usual.

Receivers: Marty Booker had the long touchdown catch and ended with 115 yards but no other receiver really amounted to much. It was Bookers first game over 100 this season and with Grossman under center, it may well be his last for the year.

When these teams last played, Stewart's one touchdown went to David Terrell for his only catch. Dez White had 67 yards on three catches and Desmond Clark turned in four catches for 33 yards.

Match against the Defense: Grossman draws a nice defense to start his career but his effectiveness is a complete guess given that he has not played this season. The only reliable feature of the offense is that Thomas should find some running room and by volume of carries turn in at least a respectable game.

At 5-8, the Bears could be playing to reach .500 and will give lip service to that but the reality is that the season is over and next year already looms larger. Grossman will be interesting to watch and if the Bears defense can keep the game close, Chicago can remain in a balanced offense that favors the rushing.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
MIN Scores
1
8
2
26
17
8
CHI Allows
3
18
3
23
23
24
MIN AP
2
10
1
-3
6
16
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
CHI Scores
16
28
17
19
12
31
MIN Allows
28
28
23
13
16
22
CHI AP
12
0
6
-6
4
-9
Offensive ranks = #1 gains most points, Defensive ranks = #1 allows least points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
MIN
CHI
2003 Game Averages
CHI
MIN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
280
188
Pass yards
187
244
2.1
1.0
Pass TDs
0.7
1.2
0.8
1.1
Interceptions
1.2
1.8
26
6
Rush yards
25
9
0.4
0.0
Rush TDs
0.3
0.3
---
---
RB's
---
---
100
102
Rush yards
93
116
0.5
0.6
Rush TDs
0.7
1.2
65
32
Receive yards
11
44
0.3
0.1
Receive TD's
0.0
0.2
---
---
WR's
---
---
187
124
Receive yards
142
158
1.6
0.5
Receive TD's
0.6
0.9
---
---
TE's
---
---
28
32
Receive yards
34
42
0.1
0.4
Receive TD's
0.1
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.0
1.8
Field Goals
1.7
1.3
3.3
1.9
Extra Points
2.1
2.9
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.4
0.5
Fumbles
0.3
0.6
1.9
1.4
Interceptions
1.1
0.9
0.4
0.3
Touchdowns
0.2
0.3
1.8
2.5
Sacks
1.1
3.0
0.2
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Vikings (8-5)
Score Opp.
30-25 @GB
24-13 CHI
23-13 @DET
35-7 SF
39-26 @ATL
Week 6 BYE
28-20 DEN
17-29 NYG
27-30 GB
28-42 @SD
18-28 @OAK
24-14 DET
17-48 @STL
34-7 SEA
Week 15 @CHI
Week 16 KC
Week 17 @ARZ
Bears (5-8)
Score Opp.
7-49 @SF
13-24 @MIN
Week 3 BYE
23-38 GB
24-21 OAK
13-20 @NO
17-24 @SEA
24-16 DET
20-7 SD
10-12 @DET
21-23 STL
19-10 @DEN
28-3 ARZ
21-34 @GB
Week 15 MIN
Week 16 WAS
Week 17 @KC

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points