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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 16, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at DET* MIA at TBB* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CLE at BAL NYG at DAL* NYJ at BUF PHI, SF *Updated

Prediction: Minnesota 14, Chicago 17

This is an old-time rivalry that finally does not feature Randy Moss being chased by the Chicago secondary. It will be Culpepper being chased by the blitzers this week while hoping he throws an interception. This is always close and a lower scoring game even when everyone is healthy - and neither team is right now.

The Vikings beat the Bears 27-22 in week three of 2004.

Update: Thomas Jones remains out of practice this week and HC Lovie Smith has indirectly said that Benson would be the starter but he's already spent this season mixing backs and Adrian Peterson should still have a presence in the game. If the Vikings are successful in shutting down the run or getting ahead on the score board, that would force the Bears to pass more which would almost certainly mean the balance shifts to the proven Peterson. The good news for Benson owners is that he'll be playing and likely starting against the #27 team against running backs this year but game situation could easily turn this into more use of Peterson. I am upgrading Benson's numbers slightly, but there is risk here no matter what you rely on.

Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
1 13-24 TBB 10 Nov 13 @NYG
2 8-37 @CIN 11 Nov 21 @GBP
3 33-16 NOR 12 Nov 27 CLE
4 10-30 @ATL 13 Dec 4 @DET
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 STL
6 Oct 16 @CHI 15 Dec 18 PIT
7 Oct 23 GBP 16 Dec 25 @BAL
8 Oct 30 @CAR 17 Jan 1 CHI
9 Nov 6 DET . . MON
MIN at Chicago Rush Catch Pass
QB Daunte Culpepper 20 0 230,2
RB Mewelde Moore 60 40 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 30 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 30 0
WR Troy Williamson 0 50,1 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 60,1 0
PK Paul Edinger 0 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Things are not going well in Minnesota but thanks to playing in the NFC North, their horrendous start still doesn't put them out of title contention yet. The players are rumored to already be pointing fingers and grousing and HC Mike Tice brought in Jerry Rhome to look at the offense and suggest changes. There is speculation that Rhome could act as the offensive coordinator and push current OC Steve Loney back to being the offensive line coach. Three of the next four games will be against divisional foes and will determine if the Vikings will contend this year or just fall apart.

Quarterback: Daunte Culpepper finally came to life in week three when he had 300 yards and three scores against the Saints, but then regressed in Atlanta. He only managed to throw for 250 yards and one score against two interceptions and a lost fumble. That now gives him four touchdowns against ten interceptions this season. Culpepper has been playing with a sprained MCL and is battling bursitis in the knee that began back in week one. The layoff last week should help his health, but his condition is not one that a mere week will erase. I am assuming that Culpepper is fine to play with only minor limitations from his knee.

Culpepper threw for 360 yards and two scores against the Bears last year. He also ran in one score. Both scores went to Randy Moss and 223 yards were thrown to either Randy Moss or Onterrio Smith in that game.

Running Backs: Two weeks of Mewelde Moore starting have been good for the running game. Moore turned in 101 yards against the Saints and while he only had 57 yards on 14 carries against the Falcons, he added 63 yards on six catches for nice fantasy production. Michael Bennett's role now is to come into the game and catch a couple of passes, much like Moe Williams. The Vikings are relying on Moore and using the other backs for minimal relief.

Wide Receivers: Nate Burleson has missed the last two games with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament and while that has healed, now his shoulder sprain is being a problem. He will be questionable to play yet again this week and I will not project for him pending an update.

If Burleson is out, Travis Taylor will rotate with Marcus Robinson for the flanker spot while Troy Williamson will continue as the split end as he did in week three. Williamson has scored in each of the last two games and totaled 122 yards.

Tight Ends: Jermaine Wiggins has yet to score this season and topped out at 60 yards in week three. He's been pretty consistent at around three catches for 30 yards in most games. Jim Kleinsasser always has at least one catch, but half the time it remains just that one catch. He remains mainly a blocking tight end.

Match Against the Defense: Mewelde Moore goes against a defense that has allowed some decent games to running backs though none have scored against the Bears. Figure on Moore only having a moderate game with no score here though he could add some yardage via the pass like the previous game.

Culpepper faces a secondary that has faced only one quarterback with great talent and Palmer had three scores against them - though only 169 yards. This could be Culpepper's worst game of the year since his lowest so far (233 yards) exceeds the best effort against the Bears secondary (218). The Bears at home will be tough and that will limit Culpepper who has already struggled in all but one game this year. The bye week could have been a help fixing what was broken, but by the numbers this won't be a big game for Culpepper.

Chicago Bears (1-3)
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 10-20 @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 vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton 0 0 150,1
RB Adrian Peterson 40,1 20 0
RB Cedric Benson 60 0 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 60,1 0
WR Mark Bradley 0 30 0
WR Justin Gage 0 10 0
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears come off a frustrating loss to the Browns in a game that they had in hand until two late touchdowns passes went to Antonio Bryant. While a 1-3 record may seem dismal, in the NFC Central it means they are only one game out of first place. The Bears had another bad break when they saw Thomas Jones go down with a knee injury late in the game but he should miss little time if not make it back this week. It seems likely he'll sit just this one out.

Quarterback: Not much is changing here. Kyle Orton remains equally as effective as when he started, throwing for around 140 yards a game with a score every other week. Since he had one touchdown against the Browns, this isn't his scheduled week for a score but it is against the Vikings.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones has easily been running better than any time in his entire career and has three straight 100+ yard games and four scores on the season. Jones had a "mild" sprain to his knee last week that sent him to the sidelines for some ice and bandages. He was replaced by Adrian Peterson who only had two runs but gained 19 yards.

Cedric Benson only had five carries in the game for six yards and lost a fumble in the third quarter. He never had a carry after the turnover. Until word is given that Jones will be playing, I am assuming that Peterson and Benson will be splitting carries. While this could be seen as a big opportunity for Benson, HC Lovie Smith has already indicated that he would share with Peterson.

Thomas Jones ran for 110 yards and one score in the week three meeting against the Vikings last year.

Wide Receivers: The pedestrian passing numbers have meant the wideouts have little impact and almost none outside of Muhsin Muhammad who has been consistent at gaining around 60 yards this season and has only one score. The wideouts here actually have two lost fumbles against only one score as a group. Mark Bradley has been seeing an increase in passes with 16 over the last two games but he has only caught up to four in a game and never topped 33 yards.

Tight Ends: No fantasy consequence here.

Match Against the Defense: This is the exact kind of defense that Thomas Jones would exploit if he were healthy. Even if he is out, expect Benson and Peterson to combine for some decent yardage though individually it will not likely be more than moderate at best. The Bears should score at least once on the ground and that could be either Peterson or Benson and more likely Peterson since the Bears freaked out last week when Benson fumbled.

Orton will throw his standard 140 yards and he could do better has have most opponents. Look for one passing score here that will definitely favor Muhammad.