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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 18, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at TBB NE at CAR Sun 4 PM MIA at NYJ Mon 9 PM
JAC at IND* PIT at HOU* STL at ARI *Update Times ET

Prediction: Detroit 14, Chicago 10

The Lions won both match-ups last season against the Bears but both times it was a close, hard fought game involving two teams largely devoid of offensive firepower. Detroit opened in Chicago 20-16 and won 19-13 in week 16 in Detroit. This year the Bears are still largely in the same shape with a new quarterback but a new offense being installed. The Lions bring plenty of offensive weapons with them, the question is how many the Bears defense allows them to use.

Detroit Lions (1-0)
1 17-3 GBP 10 Nov 13 ARI
2 Sep 18 @CHI 11 Nov 20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 24 ATL
4 Oct 2 @TBB 13 Dec 4 MIN
5 Oct 9 BAL 14 Dec 11 @GBP
6 Oct 16 CAR 15 Dec 18 CIN
7 Oct 23 @CLE 16 Dec 24 @NOR
8 Oct 30 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 Nov 6 @MIN . THU SAT
DET Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 190,1
RB Kevin Jones 100,1 10 0
RB Shawn Bryson 10 20 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 20 0
WR Roy Williams 0 50 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 50,1 0
WR Mike Williams 0 10 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 20 0
PK Jason Hanson 0 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Lions are all loaded up on wideouts now but so far have hardly used them, opting instead to use Marcus Pollard before he files for retirement or running Kevin Jones into the line. The Bears are still struggling with the new offense and new skill players giving the Lions an excellent chance to notch their first road win.

Quarterback: Joey Harrington went against a Packer secondary he should have exploited but only threw for 167 yards and two scores. Just as important he had no turnovers and the game was pretty well in hand early enough that no passing fireworks were going to be needed. Could be the case again this week.

In week one of last year, Harrington threw for only 187 yards and one score. He had only 166 yards and no score in week 16. The Bears have always been successful at limiting Harrington the last few seasons.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones finally was able to start an NFL season as the full-time starter and ended with 87 yards on 25 carries - a bit of a disappointment considering what he had done to them the previous season. Jones ran for 123 yards and one score in the last meeting against the Bears.

Wide Receivers: The greatest collection of first round wideouts and the Lions game plan steers away from them last week. Roy Williams only had two catches for 13 yards and Charles Rogers ended with only one catch for 38 yards. The only non-first rounder among them, Kevin Johnson, led the wideouts with only two catches for 38 yards.

Mike Williams scored his first NFL in his first NFL game and will hopefully improve upon the three yard total he racked up last week.

This collection of receivers has obvious promise that has yet to be needed. Might need to wait until week four in Tampa Bay. The best news coming out of this crew will be that Chicago provides the sight of something seen only once before - Charles Rogers playing in his second game of the season.

The best Roy WIlliams managed was 69 yards on four catches in the first matchup. He only had 33 yards in week 16 and has yet to score against Chicago.

Tight Ends: While Marcus Pollard may have seemed more of an afterthought following Rogers and the Williams, he ended up the best receiver last week with five catches for 58 yards and one touchdown. That's all this offense needs, one more receiver.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears always play the Lions tough and in Chicago, this game is no less challenging. But Kevin Jones has already had a big game there last year and the Bears just allowed Portis to run for 121 yards. Expect at least a moderate game from Jones but he has yet to hit fifth gear this season.

Harrington has never thrown very well against the Bears and with the game likely to remain low scoring and rushing heavy, he's most likely to repeat his previous games that saw him hanging out around 170 yards and a score. Throw in one more score with all those receivers but it is not a lock to happen and it is getting only more difficult to determine which receiver benefits more.

Jason Hanson has a quadriceps injury and may not play or could be limited. Stay away from him this week regardless.

Chicago Bears (0-1)
1 7-9 @WAS 10 Nov 13 SFO
2 Sep 18 DET 11 Nov 20 CAR
3 Sep 25 CIN 12 Nov 27 @TBB
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 GBP
5 Oct 9 @CLE 14 Dec 11 @PIT
6 Oct 16 MIN 15 Dec 18 ATL
7 Oct 23 BAL 16 Dec 25 @GBP
8 Oct 30 @DET 17 Jan 1 @MIN
9 Nov 6 @NOR . . .
CHI Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton 0 0 160
RB Thomas Jones 60,1 20 0
RB Cedric Benson 30 0 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 40 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 30 0
WR Justin Gage 0 20 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 10 0
WR Mark Bradley 0 40 0
PK Doug Brien 1 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears opened yet another season with the offense struggling but there's more reason to be optimistic that it will get better. Kyle Orton is no veteran of course, but he shows enough in glimpses to expect bigger things even as early as later this season. That will help the passing game and in turn, the run game which currently includes the offense and up to ten of the defenders every snap.

Quarterback: in his first NFL regular season start, Kyle Orton completed 15 of 28 for 141 yards with a fumble and interception. It took Kyle Boller two full seasons to reach that plateau. The offense will continue to sputter until Orton gets up to speed and that just takes game experience. Orton already has learned where the money is - Muhsin Muhammad - and he already looks better than any of the pretenders last year did behind center.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones scored once against the Redskins last week but only gained 31 yards on 15 carries while facing eight and nine man fronts virtually on every play. Jones ran for 109 yards on 22 carries in week 16 against the Lions.

Cedric Benson finally was observed actually wearing a Bears' uniform but only had three carries for ten yards. With a rookie quarterback and an offensive line already struggling to match up to the defenses, the stated plan is to have him integrate into the offense as he learns the playbook. That includes the very necessary art of blocking.

There is no misconception here - Benson will play as soon as the coaching staff is comfortable with him protecting Orton when needed. Look for an increase every week and once Benson can put together a couple of long runs, he'll likely take over. That probably will not happen this week but in week three against the Bengals the opportunities will be better.

Wide Receivers: Even with the lower passing yardage and a rookie quarterback, Muhsin Muhammad still managed to catch six passes for 59 yards last week against a stout Redskins defense. While Bernard Berrian (1-9) and Justin Gage (1-10) also contributed, the use of the rookie Mark Bradley (1-22) is another reason to expect this team is going to improve and already is incorporating the new talent. Bradley had four passes thrown to him, second only to Muhammad for wideouts.

Tight Ends: Last year was supposed to be the year of the tight end in the Kansas City style offense but it never materialized. This year under Ron Turner, Desmond Clark (3-26) is already getting more looks during the limited passing.

Match Against the Defense: The Lions are fresh and healthy so far and they just stopped Ahman Green cold in Detroit. With the split likely to increase between Jones and Benson, neither will likely have much fantasy value this week unless one hits a long run - hard to do when he'll have to get through eight or more defenders at the line of scrimmage.

Look for Orton to continue incremental improvement but his numbers won't be high enough for any fantasy consideration this week or in the ones soon to come. Muhammad draws CB Dre Bly this week and that will depress his already low numbers.