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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 16
December 17, 2003
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at TB 1 BAL at CLE NYG at DAL ARZ at SEA DEN at IND
KC at MIN 5 CIN at STL NO at JAX SD at PIT Mon 9 PM
NE at NYJ 8:30 DET at CAR TEN at HOU SF at PHI GB at OAK
Times EST MIA at BUF WAS at CHI *updated
   
Kansas City vs Minnesota Sat, Dec 20; 5 PM on CBS at Metrodome
  Kansas City at MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 0 0 230,1
RB Priest Holmes 90,2 20 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 60 0
WR Johnnie Morton 0 50 0
WR Dante Hall 0 60,1 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 60 0
  Minnesota vs KC Rush Catch Pass
QB Daunte Culpepper 40 0 230,2
RB Michael Bennett 80,1 0 0
RB Moe Williams 20 30 0
TE J. Kleinsasser 0 40,1 0
WR Randy Moss 0 100,1 0
WR Kelly Campbell 0 20 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 20 0

Game Prediction: KC 26, MIN 24

Update: Michael Bennett has returned to practice this week though he has experienced soreness in his knee. He is expected to play and will start though HC Mike Tice has qualified that with "for as long as he can". Chances are that Bennett at 80% is better than the others at 100%. He should provide a big game here for as long as his knee does not bother him and as always is possible to breakoff a long run. I am downgrading his numbers slightly but his performance will be affected by his in-game health.

Onterrio Smith will likely get a few carries though he too is nursing a hamstring strain. His playing time will rely on what Bennett can and cannot do.

This will be the first dome game for the Chiefs and likely the last chance that they could lose in the regular season. The Vikings cannot afford a loss here if they still hope to win the division and could have slightly overlooked the Bears last week in a game they should have won.

This game will produce good fantasy points and likely for the more notable players. Chiefs will have to fight to win this one and Priest Holmes needs to continue to score to chase his touchdown record.

Kansas City Notes

The Chiefs rise to 12-2 on the season and are tied with New England for the best record in the NFL.

Quarterbacks:: Trent Green turned in a monster game last week when he threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns, completing 20 of 25 passes against the Detroit defense. He ended with the highest possible QB rating of 158.3 for the game. It was his fifth game this season with over 300 yards passing.

Running Backs: Priest Holmes had 18 carries for 94 yards and three touchdowns last week but did not play in the fourth quarter. HC Dick Vermiel later said it was the first time this season that Holmes has been truly healthy. There is a scary thought. He already has 22 touchdowns this season and needs only four more to tie Emmitt Smith's record.

Receivers: Green's gaudy passing yards last week were not thanks to the wideouts who never gained more than 50 yards individually nor scored. Instead, Derrick Blaylock had one long score and ended with 106 receiving yards while Tony Gonzalez had 93 yards and two touchdowns. He now has ten touchdowns on the season.

Marc Boerigter suffered an ankle injury against Detroit and will be doubtful to play on Saturday.

Match against the Defense: Step one - Priest Holmes.

The Vikings have allowed two 100 yard games in Minny this season - Portis (117) and Green (137). Only three runners have scored a touchdown on the ground as a visitor and none had more than one. Holmes needs two or three here to have a shot at the record that Vermiel would like to see him get.

Expect that Holmes will run well but likely not 25 or 30 times. His runs will be rationed but he will always get the ball close to the endzone.

Green faces a secondary that has kept all opponent quarterbacks to less than 218 yards with the lone exception of Kerry Collins (375). Minnesota has allowed passing scores in six of eight home games this season but only Favre and Collins have exceeded more than one.

The scores have heavily favored the right side which would benefit Kennison in the game but with Holmes and Gonzalez there, wideouts often do not matter. There has been only one tight end touchdown against the Vikings this season.

Minnesota Notes

The Vikings fall to 8-6 and are tied with the Packers in the NFC North.

Quarterbacks:: Daunte Culpepper had problems with the Bears last week, throwing for only 222 yards and one score but he almost always has lesser games against Chicago. Culpepper will be at home this week where he is always better - he has multiple touchdowns in every game there this season except one odd game against the Lions.

Running Backs: Last week Michael Bennett did not play despite words from HC Mike Tice during the week that he would. In his place, Onterrio Smith ran for 148 yards on 27 carries even though he missed the final four minutes of the game due to a hamstring strain. He is still considered probable for this week as will be Bennett with his mysterious sprained ankle. Tice said both will play this week but loses a little credibility after last week.

On Monday, Tice revealed that Moe Williams is playing with a slight tear to the cartilage in his knee but is not expected to miss time because of it.

Receivers: The Bears always play the Vikes tough and it was a standard game last week when Randy Moss had 93 yards on nine catches and one score. No other receiver did more than 55 yards (Moe Williams). The Vikings still have no viable complement to Moss since back when Cris Carter played.

Match against the Defense: Credible word on what runner will be playing is critical when facing the Chiefs because their rush defense only gets worse. Last week they allowed the worst rushing team in the league to gain 135 yards and one score. For now I am assuming that Bennett returns but will update if needed. Not only will the weakest rush defense affect the game plan, but keeping Green and company from the field is an added benefit. LB Mike Maslowski is questionable to play this week with a knee injury and his replacement is the rookie Kawika Mitchell who has been even worse against the run.

The Chiefs on the road have allowed two passing scores to three of the last five opponents and that is considering that opponents are running wild anyway. Culpepper will not likely have a huge game in yardage passing but is definitely qualified to score a couple of times. The Chiefs have allowed four tight ends to score this season which is favorable for Kleinsasser.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
KC Scores
3
3
21
1
7
32
MIN Allows
4
17
11
10
7
32
KC AP
1
14
-10
9
0
0
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
MIN Scores
1
13
6
14
19
6
KC Allows
24
32
21
17
15
1
MIN AP
23
19
15
3
-4
-5
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.
KC
MIN
2003 Game Averages
MIN
KC
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
296
192
Pass yards
284
220
1.8
0.4
Pass TDs
1.2
1.4
0.4
1.4
Interceptions
1.2
0.6
5
10
Rush yards
35
21
0.2
0.2
Rush TDs
0.2
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
110
95
Rush yards
112
155
1.8
1.6
Rush TDs
0.4
1.6
71
18
Receive yards
71
34
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.4
---
---
WR's
---
---
159
142
Receive yards
173
153
0.2
0.4
Receive TD's
1.2
0.8
---
---
TE's
---
---
67
32
Receive yards
40
33
1.4
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.4
0.8
Field Goals
1.2
1.0
3.6
2.8
Extra Points
2.4
3.4
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.4
1.2
Fumbles
0.6
0.0
0.6
1.2
Interceptions
1.6
0.4
0.0
0.6
Touchdowns
0.6
0.2
1.2
3.6
Sacks
1.0
1.2
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Chiefs (12-2)
Score Opp.
27-14 SD
41-20 PIT
42-14 @HOU
17-10 @BAL
24-23 DEN
40-34 @GB
17-10 @OAK
38-5 BUF
Week 9 BYE
41-20 CLE
19-24 @CIN
27-24 OAK
28-24 @SD
27-45 @DEN
45-17 DET
Week 16 @MIN
Week 17 CHI
Vikings (8-6)
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
10-13 @CHI
Week 16 KC
Week 17 @ARZ

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points using only the last five games played