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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 8
October 26, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ARI at DAL JAC at STL* WAS at NYG* TB at SF* BUF at NE
CHI at DET* MIA at NO* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CLE at HOU MIN at CAR* KC at SD* IND, NYJ BAL at PIT*
GB at CIN OAK at TEN* PHI at DEN ATL, SEA *Updated

Prediction: Chicago 10, Detroit 13

This is a battle for the lead in the NFC North which will produce a team with an actual winning record. The Bears defense has been great and the rushing game is clicking along while the Lions now appear to have a quarterback and a rushing game. The home team has won this matchup each time for the last three years other than one Detroit win back in 2004 and the Bears beat the Lions 38-6 back in week two of this season. With Harrington gone, the Lions take on a much needed new look.

Update: Thomas Jones did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday but is still expected to start. He is trying to heal up his sprained knee. Since Bernard Berrian is out due to thumb surgery, Justin Gage will likely see some playing time this week but there is no expectations it will produce much.

Roy Williams still has not practiced in any team drills and has only worked out in personal drills. Since Mariucci says that Williams will not play until he can practice 100%, I am removing him from the projections.

Pregame Notes: The Bears come off two wins and are almost becoming smug with themselves. The defense has not allowed a touchdown in two weeks while the running game has been more than adequate to win against the Vikings and Ravens. But this is the same team that has lost both previous road games and has only 17 points total in those two matchups in Washington and Cleveland. There's no doubt the Bears showed good fight when they took the rainy win over the Ravens, but playing inside on the road will be an entirely different situation.

Quarterback: Kyle Orton has played in all six games this season and still has yet to throw for over 150 yards. In the two road games this year, he only has one touchdown and 141 yards at most though he turned in his second error-free game of the year against the Ravens last week. Orton is still learning the ropes and mainly just is there to handoff to Thomas Jones with the occasional pass.

Orton threw for 150 yards and one score in the previous matchup against the Lions this year.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones comes off a very impressive 139 yard game against the Ravens and that makes four 100+ yard games in the last five outings. This offense now revolves around Jones and he has been up to the task so far, carrying the ball at least 20 times in each of the last five games.

Thomas Jones ran for 139 yards and two scores against the Lions back in week two.

Wide Receivers: The lackluster passing game here has meant that the wideouts have never really mattered and only Muhsin Muhammad has a touchdown from this crew - and he only has one from back in

Chicago Bears (3-3)
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 28-3 MIN 15 Dec 18 ATL
7 10-6 BAL 16 Dec 25 @GBP
8 Oct 30 @DET 17 Jan 1 @MIN
9 Nov 6 @NOR . . .
CHI at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton 0 0 150,1
RB Thomas Jones 90 20 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 40 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 60,1 0
WR Mark Bradley 0 20 0
WR Bobby Wade 0 10 0
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 1 XP -

week two. Muhammad has been under 60 yards in every game this season other than the one matchup against the Lions earlier this year. Mark Bradley has never had more than 37 yards in a game as the #2 receiver in this offense. This game will be like all the others this season - it will be won or lost based on rushing and defense - not passing.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark has become a frequent target for Orton in an offense that throws little. He had the two touchdowns in week six and then turned in 50 yards on four catches against the Ravens. That's pretty gaudy numbers in this passing attack. Clark only had two catches for 19 yards in the previous matchup against the Lions.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears demolished the Lions in week two for five main reasons - all of them interceptions by Joey Harrington. Thomas Jones has ran well against the Lions this year already and he'll be getting his standard 20+ carries and likely over 100 yards but his two scores in week two have been the only rushing scores allowed by the Lions all season. Detroit will be extra motivated this week against an opponent that has already thrashed them and it will be a different Detroit team a mere six weeks later. Jones could score once of course, but that would make him the only runner to do so against the Lions for the entire 2005 season.

Orton is two dimensional - only Muhammad and occasionally Clark matter in the passing game. He'll likely throw for only one score here and that would most favor Muhammad but the Lions will be aware of that. There's an equal chance the score goes to Clark or even the fullback Marc Edwards as it did last week. The Lions may be without Dre Bly but that likely won't matter much against this passing offense though he would have been matched on Muhammad.

Detroit Lions (3-3)
1 17-3 GBP 10 Nov 13 ARI
2 6-38 @CHI 11 Nov 20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 24 ATL
4 13-17 @TBB 13 Dec 4 MIN
5 35-17 BAL 14 Dec 11 @GBP
6 20-21 CAR 15 Dec 18 CIN
7 13-10 @CLE 16 Dec 24 @NOR
8 Oct 30 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 Nov 6 @MIN . THU SAT
DET vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia 10 0 190,1
RB Kevin Jones 80 10 0
RB Shawn Bryson 10 20 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 40 0
WR Roy Williams 0 40 0
WR Mike Williams 0 70,1 0
WR Scott Vines 0 30 0
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: For all their problems this season, the Lions are still 3-3 and can take the NFC North lead outright with a win here. Jeff Garcia was given his first start and he used the opportunity to stick it to the Cleveland Browns - his previous employer. Garcia breathes all new life into this offense which is fortunate since Kevin Johnson becomes the next Lion player to get injured and leave the field. This is a big game not only for the divisional considerations, but because they were wiped out by the Bears earlier this season. This is about payback.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia only threw for 201 yards last week with no score, but that was more yardage than Harrington was ever able to produce and what is more important, Garcia was never sacked and had no turnovers. That alone makes the Lions competitive again. Throw in that Garcia rushed in one score and Harrington becomes one of the best paid bench players in the league this year. Harrington threw for 196 yards and one score in the previous game against the Bears this year but had five interceptions.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones only had 74 yards on 21 carries last week and he has never topped 87 yards this year but back at home with a passing game to support him can only be a positive. Jones only gained 22 yards on eight carries in the blowout by the Bears earlier this year but had 123 yards and one touchdown in the week 16 meeting against the Bears last year.

Wide Receivers: The Lions have lost Kevin Johnson for the year due to a ruptured Achilles tendon, Roy Williams has been out for the last two games with a quadriceps injury but he did practice some last week and I am expecting that he returns with only minor limitation this Sunday. Updates as warranted.

Mike Williams had struggled earlier this year with back and hamstring injuries, and of course with Harrington throwing him the ball but last week he ended with 95 yards on five catches. Amazing what a quarterback change can do. Scott Vines is now filling in for all the injured/suspended players and had five catches for 34 yards against the Browns though he will move back in the pecking order once Roy Williams plays again.This is the final week of Charles Rogers suspension but he may have already lost the starting job to Mike Williams after only one good showing by the rookie.

Roy Williams caught five passes for 96 yards and a score in the previous meeting against the Bears - the single best showing by any Detroit wideout this season.

Tight Ends: Jeff Garcia ignored Marcus Pollard last week for all but one completion for five yards. He actually had more success with Casey Fitzsimmons who had two catches for 10 yards. Break out the champagne.

Match Against the Defense: The previous meeting against the Bears is not a great measuring stick here since Harrington was throwing five interceptions in Chicago. Garcia may not light up this defense but he won't make the same mistakes. Kevin Jones ran well against the Bears last year and he only had eight carries in the first meeting, so expect a much better game here that should see at least moderate yardage but not likely a score - no one has rushed in a touchdown against the Bears this year.

Garcia goes against a good secondary that has only allowed six scores this year but it can be beaten at least occasionally as was shown by Roy Williams who scored on a 51-yard pass last year. Garcia gives this offense an entirely new flavor that the Bears have never see before (read as not throwing 5 interceptions). This will be a lower scoring game as they always were until Harrington started targeting cornerbacks earlier this season and Garcia should manage at least one score here and possibly two if Williams returns. Defense is going to rule this game by both teams, so the fantasy points will not be high by either team this week.