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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 5
October 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
BAL at DET NO at GB IND at SF CIN at JAC* PIT at SDC*
CHI at CLE SEA at STL* CAR at ARI On Bye:  
MIA at BUF TB at NYJ* PHI at DAL KC, OAK
NE at ATL TEN at HOU* WAS at DEN MIN, NYG Updated*

Prediction: Chicago 13, Cleveland 10

One of these teams will rise to a .500 record while the other slips back to a disappointing 1-3. Neither team likely deserves to be .500 and it will be a tough gig for the Bears on the road but the Browns have only done well against bad defenses and Chicago should keep the game score low enough to win. The Benson watch hits week four while Thomas Jones merely chants his mantra - "whatever".

Chicago Bears (1-2)
1 7-9 @WAS 10 Nov 13 SFO
2 38-6 DET 11 Nov 20 CAR
3 7-24 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 at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton 0 0 150
RB Thomas Jones 90,1 10 0
RB Cedric Benson 30 0 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 70 0
WR Justin Gage 0 20 0
WR Mark Bradley 0 40 0
PK Doug Brien 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bears have wavered between a blowout over the Lions against two games where they could muster nothing outside of Thomas Jones rushing. Cedric Benson has been twiddling his thumbs wondering why the Bears drafted him when the only part of their offense that does work is the running game. Benson is slated to get more action this week and playing the Browns should be good for making an impression but there's also nothing to say they do not just stick with Jones as the primary runner and keep Benson as the cameo player.

Quarterback: Kyle Orton inherited a tough gig this season and he's been remarkably consistent. Unfortunately, that is not consistently good since he's played in three games so far and has remained between 141 and 150 yards in each with only one touchdown. In the game before the bye week, Orton threw five interceptions against the Bengals. This should be a good week to work on the rushing game and for, of course, Orton to have about 150 yards passing.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones has scored at least once in every game this year and currently has two straight 100 yard rushing efforts to only further muddle the picture about Cedric Benson. No doubt the coaching staff has seen the big games that both backs drafted around Benson have had this season, but then again, these are the same coaches that have seen Thomas Jones be the only player keeping the Bears from a monumentally bad offense this season.

Benson did not have a single carry in the last game but the coaching staff has given word that Benson will have a bigger role this Sunday. After a week with no carries, even one run would be an increase.

Wide Receivers: The good news is that Muhsin Muhammad is earning his money as the primary wideout who has the only receiving score by Chicago this season. Muhammad has never had less than 58 yards which is fairly astronomic this year. But the bad news is that the same other wideouts from last year are still there - Bernard Berrian, Justin Gage and Bobby Wade who combine to do just as little as they did last year.

Mark Bradley had two catches for 26 yards in the last game. By Chicago standards, that makes him a rising star. Enough so that he has taken over the starting flanker spot from Justin Gage.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark had no passes in the last game. He's good for around 20 yards on a good day and disappears during tough match-up that should have been his better games.

Match Against the Defense: This is supposed to be the week that Benson will be getting more carries but so far that is only speculation and coachspeak. The Browns rushing defense should give up at least 100 yards or more if the Bears defense can keep Cleveland behind on the scoreboard. Look for about 120 or so rushing yards here split somehow between both Benson and Thomas. Safest bet is that Thomas gets something like 80/20 or 70/30 in sharing with Benson but long gainers by either will skew the results.

The Browns passing defense is likely average at best and most teams just go to the run and do not throw much which plays into how the Bears need to operate with Orton still learning the game. While there is a chance that Orton could throw a score here, he's more likely to remain around that 150 yard mark he always has. There is no weaker side, so Muhammad should safely get the biggest share (relatively speaking).

Cleveland Browns (1-2)
1 13-27 CIN 10 Nov 13 @PIT
2 26-24 @GBP 11 Nov 20 MIA
3 6-13 @IND 12 Nov 27 @MIN
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 JAC
5 Oct 9 CHI 14 Dec 11 @CIN
6 Oct 16 @BAL 15 Dec 18 @OAK
7 Oct 23 DET 16 Dec 24 PIT
8 Oct 30 @HOU 17 Jan 1 BAL
9 Nov 6 TEN . . SAT
CLE vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer 0 0 190,1
RB Lee Suggs 20 20 0
RB Reuben Droughns 60 20 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 30 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 40 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 50,1 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 20 0
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Browns squeaked out their one win this year in the Packers game but otherwise have struggled to find any offensive rhythm or even a touchdown for that matter. With games against the Bears and then Ravens on tap next, the offense is not likely to catch fire soon.

Quarterback: Trent Dilfer managed nice yardage and scores in the first two weeks but against the Colts he only managed 208 yards and no scores though he did complete 22 of 29 passes. The game in Indianapolis was a defensive, low-scoring game predicated on rushing and Dilfer's numbers suffered for it. There is some optimism for the future here after passing the two rough defenses coming up. The Browns will play against the Lions, Texans and Titans in the following weeks and Braylon Edwards is already starting to make some noise.

Running Backs: Lee Suggs finally played back in week three but he only had two passes for seven yards and never carried the ball. Reuben Droughns only gained 76 yards on 22 carries but he too added some passes to make the game productive. He had three catches for 32 yards and he's been consistent around that mark each week this season.

Suggs is slated to get carries this week but reports are that Droughns will continue with the primary role. Going against the Bears this week will likely better suit the power rushing of Droughns anyway.

Wide Receivers: Antonio Bryant had seven catches for 75 yards against the Colts and while he has yet to score, he's been a fairly reliable option for Dilfer to rely on. Braylon Edwards had the big touchdown in week two and while he remained in the slot for week three, he had 43 yards on four catches. That's good compared to starting split end Dennis Northcutt who only had one catch for seven yards. Edwards will be moving into the #2 role possibly as early as this week and in terms of production, he's really already there.

Tight Ends: Steve Heiden only had two catches for 12 yards against the Colts but he should remain a bigger factor in the passing attack than the last game suggested. He had 104 yards in week two with a couple of touchdowns but the Browns are planning on using him enough this year that the week two monster effort was not just an annual freak game like many tight ends have.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears rushing defense has not allowed a rushing score this season and should prove solid enough here to limit Droughns who will share with Suggs anyway. Expect only moderate yardage at best from this game though the lower score should allow more rushing to happen and with volume, Droughns could turn in a decent game here.

Dilfer has been a nice surprise this year but he is going against a secondary that has not allowed 200 yards to any opponent including Carson Palmer. Look for a sub-200 game from him with one score that actually favors Braylon Edwards slightly. The yardage limits here won't make either Edwards or Bryant be attractive fantasy starts this week.