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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 30,, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at MIA* HOU at BAL TEN at IND* DEN at KC Mon 9 PM
CIN at PIT JAC at CLE* Sun 4 PM NYJ at NE SEA at PHI
DAL at NYG MIN at DET* ARI at SF* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Minnesota 16, Detroit 20

The Lions were bushwhacked by the Falcons on Thanksgiving day and everyone assumed HC Steve Mariucci was fired. And after denying it, the Lions thought about for a few hours and figured 'why not?". They also removed the offensive line coach and tight ends coach. So what had appeared to be a rudderless ship now will have the offense continue on with the defensive coordinator Dick Jauron as interim head coach. Meanwhile the Vikings are on four game winning streak playing sound defense and being very un-Viking like in almost every way.

The Vikings won this match-up 27-14 four weeks ago in Minnesota.

Update: Interim head coach Dick Jauron has named Jeff Garcia as the starting quarterback this week and maybe he will last for the entire game. I am changing the projections to reflect the correct starter.

Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
1 13-24 TBB 10 24-21 @NYG
2 8-37 @CIN 11 20-17 @GBP
3 33-16 NOR 12 24-12 CLE
4 10-30 @ATL 13 Dec 4 @DET
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 STL
6 3-28 @CHI 15 Dec 18 PIT
7 23-20 GBP 16 Dec 25 @BAL
8 13-38 @CAR 17 Jan 1 CHI
9 27-14 DET . . MON
MIN at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 190,1
RB Mewelde Moore 60 20 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 50 0
WR Koren Robinson 0 20 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 20 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 20 0
WR Troy Williamson 0 30,1 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 30 0
PK Paul Edinger 3 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: Rare is the opportunity that HC Mike Tice has enjoyed. After spending the first half of the year explaining why the Vikings were losing and sex-cruising, he now has won four straight games with a very realistic chance at making it seven before running into the Steelers in week 15. The Vikings started this winning spree with their first match-up against the Lions when they still had a head coach.

Quarterback: Brad Johnson has done little in the first four starts since Culpepper left and only had three scores and never more than 196 passing yards. He comes off his best effort to date when he turned in 207 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Browns. This will be the third road game for Johnson who already beat the Giants and Packers in away games.

Johnson had 136 passing yards and two scores against the Lions earlier this year.

Running Backs: The Vikings could not run much last week when Mewelde Moore only had 67 yards on 21 carries against Cleveland but he's been generally average this season with the occasional good game. In the previous meeting against the Lions, Moore gained 49 yards before getting injured and Michael Bennett stepped in with 106 yards for his only good showing of the year.

Wide Receivers: The team that once threw everything to one player- Randy Moss - now is locked into a five player rotation that really favors no one player other than Marcus Robinson when the endzone gets near. Robinson had only three catches for 32 yards last week but each went for a touchdown. His three scores were more than he had totaled in the 10 previous games. Robinson also had no scores and only one catch in each of the two previous games - no consistency here. Nate Burleson continues to be mentioned by Mike Tice as a player that will have big importance to the passing attack but nothing Burleson has done the entire year suggests he will step up. Mix in Travis Taylor, Troy Williamson and Koren Robinson and there's no telling who will be catching the ball other than no one will be doing it very often.

No wideout had more than 27 yards against the Lions in week nine though Burleson did score once.

Tight Ends: Jermaine Wiggins is the only receiver with any consistency and he has turned in 67 yards in each of the last two games but he has yet to score this season. Wiggins only had one catch for 11 yards against the Lions this year.

Match Against the Defense: This is a replay of only a month ago so but what will happens here will be dictated much more by the recent events this week in Detroit than by players and schemes. Quite often teams respond very well in their first game out and take a surprising victory for their interim head coach. But Mariucci was not despised by the team, merely unrespected. And there still is dissension thanks to Dre Bly publicizing how Harrington has been the reason that the Lions cannot win. Plus now that the defensive coordinator is in charge, the game planning could be different.

The last meeting was a close game as these match-ups often are. The Lions have been solid at home against the run so expect that HC/DC Jauron continues that tradition and holds Moore to lesser yardage this week.

Johnson did manage to score twice against the Lions last time in Minnesota but both were short passes into the endzone. Expect that those are not as common this time and that Johnson returns to only one score and his more normal moderate passing game that will not favor any receiver.


Detroit Lions (4-7)
1 17-3 GBP 10 29-21 ARI
2 6-38 @CHI 11 7-20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 7-27 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 13-19 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 14-27 @MIN . THU SAT
DET vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia 20 0 260,2
RB Kevin Jones 50 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 30 0
WR Roy Williams 0 100,1 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 20 0
WR Mike Williams 0 60,1 0
WR Scottie Vines 0 30 0
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Now that Mariucci is gone, the Lions hope to "see what they have" according to GM Matt Millen. That's not too hard to discern really, they have a decent defense, no real quarterback, a misused running back and a gaggle of over-priced, under performing prima donnas for wideouts. But otherwise, looking good. How they step up (or down) this week will be interesting but first game out after a head coach firing often produces a win since it smacks all the players with the serious nature of their job. Sure, they usually fall apart again the following week but that one week they seem to step up usually.

Quarterback: Joey Harrington was his standard "bad" last week and eventually was replaced by Jeff Garcia who was unusually bad, as if he was coming back too early from injury and had no speed or arm strength. Pending information later in the week, I am assuming that Harrington takes the start here. The Lions need to determine what they have - or don't have - in Harrington.

Harrington threw for 263 yards and one score against the Vikes this year.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones gained 32 yards on only four carries but was removed from the game when the Lions went to "we're behind, throw like hell" packages for the rest of the game that used Shawn Bryson. Kevin Jones was held to only 15 rushing yards on seven carries against the Vikings earlier this year. He hasn't been given more than 14 carries in any of the last four games. With Jauron in control, that could change though the offensive coordinator Ted Tollner remains.

Wide Receivers: This unit is largely to blame for the demise of Mariucci (okay that and the whole quarterback thing). Roy Williams has been very good since returning three weeks ago and has scored in two of the three match-ups including a three touchdown game against the Cardinals. Mike Williams returned to play last week and had 84 yards on six receptions for one of his best games. Surprisingly, the Lions elected to give equal attention to Charles Rogers who was thrown seven passes with only one catch for four yards. Even Scottie Vines had 70 yards last week. The new interim regime could change things, but the consensus is that the Williams will start and Rogers is on his way out. The Lions decision to draft Mike Williams this year was made because they knew it was a distinct possibility.

In the last meeting against the Vikes, Scottie Vines had a freak high game of 109 yards but no other wideout did much. Mike Williams had just 43 yards.

Tight Ends: Marcus Pollard plods along with about 20 or so yards per week but he only has two scores on the year. Pollard had 42 yards and one of those touchdowns against the Vikings this season.

Match Against the Defense: This should be a fascinating game because there is no certainty as to how the players will be used. The Vikings have been much improved against the run in the last month or so and the Lions have never committed to using Kevin Jones anyway. Safest bet here - Jones has another lackluster game. But that could change if Jauron commits to the run.

The Vikings have been only average against the pass though their secondary has been outstanding with collecting turnovers for the last four weeks. It is mostly a guess at this point, but Harrington has been successful throwing against the Vikings already this year and this time has a healthy set of Williams to use. Educated guess says those two have good games here. But mostly a guess with this potentially changing offense.