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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 14, 2005
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
TB at NE ARI at HOU* PIT at MIN CIN at DET ATL at CHI
KC at NYG CAR at NO* SD at IND CLE at OAK* Mon 9 PM
DEN at BUF DAL at WAS SEA at TEN* PHI at STL GB at BAL
  NYJ at MIA SF at JAC* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Atlanta 6, Chicago 24

The Falcons come off a much needed win last Monday night but got Vick banged up in the process. The Bears have finally lost a game after eight straight wins and are back at home where the weather promises to be less comfortable than the Superdome in Atlanta. The only guarantee here is that the #1 defense will not let this game produce any significant fantasy numbers.

Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
1 14-10 PHI 10 25-33 GBP
2 18-21 @SEA 11 27-30 TBB
3 24-16 @BUF 12 27-7 @DET
4 30-10 MIN 13 6-24 @CAR
5 28-31 NE 14 36-17 NOR
6 34-31 @NOR 15 Dec 18 @CHI
7 27-14 NYJ 16 Dec 24 @TBB
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 CAR
9 17-10 @MIA M THU SAT
ATL at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 30 0 140
RB Warrick Dunn 50 20 0
RB T.J. Duckett 30 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 50 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 20 0
WR Michael Jenkins 0 20 0
WR Roddy White 0 30 0
PK Todd Peterson 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Falcons win over the Saints keeps them in the hunt for the division if not at least a wildcard bid but these three final games will be brutal - at Chicago, at Tampa Bay and home against the Panthers. With Vick banged up, there's no guarantee the Falcons will win any of them, last alone all of them.

Quarterback: Michael Vick produced great fantasy numbers last week by rushing in two scores and throwing for another as well. His 231 yards was greatly aided by the catch by Roddy White that went for a 54-yard touchdown when both Saint defenders ran into each other and White came down with the ball. Vick still only completed 12 of 23 for an interception as well. Wait until the Chicago defense hears he has tender ribs this week.

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn had a season low 14 carries last week but gained 73 yards and added 39 more yards on two catches. With T.J. Duckett healthy, the Falcons used him for ten runs though he only managed to gain 13 yards. Duckett also scored on a one-yard plunge against the Saints. Dunn's best games have come while at home and when he had over 20 carries in a game. In Chicago this week, Dunn's speed will be less of an advantage though the lower scoring game here will mean more rushing than normal by the Falcons.

Wide Receivers: While Michael Jenkins had three catches for 33 yards (his best game in three weeks), Roddy White continues to be the only wideout of note here and his 54-yard touchdown last week was an impressive catch. His score now ties him with Finneran and Jenkins for two scores on the year. None of this really means much in Chicago this week.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler started very slowly last week against the Saints but still ended with three catches for 94 yards thanks to a 48-yard gain thrown by Matt Schaub. His three catches matched a season low but he has been good for at least 40 or 50 yards in almost every game this season.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears have only allowed one rushing touchdown to visiting opponents this year and that freakishly went to Samkon Gado. Look for a moderate game at most from Dunn and likely more use of Duckett as the power back.

Assuming that Vick plays, don't expect a passing score against a team that has denied a passing touchdown to the last five visitors to Chicago. As always, Vick presents a different challenge but the #1 defense should be able to keep him boxed in and probably begging him to throw. Chicago comes off a loss and this is their final home game of the regular season. This should be a big effort.

Chicago Bears (9-4)
1 7-9 @WAS 10 17-9 SFO
2 38-6 DET 11 13-3 CAR
3 7-24 CIN 12 13-10 @TBB
4 Open Bye 13 19-7 GBP
5 10-20 @CLE 14 9-21 @PIT
6 28-3 MIN 15 Dec 18 ATL
7 10-6 BAL 16 Dec 25 @GBP
8 19-13 @DET 17 Jan 1 @MIN
9 20-17 @NOR . . .
CHI vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton 0 0 160,1
RB Thomas Jones 100,1 20 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 20 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 60,1 0
WR Justin Gage 0 30 0
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The inability to produce any offense came back to haunt the Bears last week when they let the Steelers score 21 points - the most any team has scored against Chicago this year. Back at home in their final game in Chicago for the regular season, the Bears have not allowed a visiting team to score more than nine points in the last five games there. Coupled with cold weather should be perfectly suited to the style of play that the Bears prefer.

Quarterback: While there was criticism of Kyle Orton last week when the Bears lost, the reality was that his 207 yards was the second best effort from him this season. But he only completed 17 of 35 passes and the flaws of the offense became very apparent when the Bears had to play from behind. Rex Grossman could be back soon and he was dressed as a back-up last week. Until official word is given, I am assuming that Orton continues to start but the situation warrants tracking if for some insane reason you are relying on the Chicago passing game.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones scored last week for the first time in seven games but he only had 72 yards on 14 carries and has not been over 100 yards since week seven. The good news here is that almost every good game from Jones this season has come in Chicago,

Wide Receivers: Muhsin Muhammad comes off his best game of the year when he turned in eight catches for 91 yards in Pittsburgh last week. That followed the Packers game when he had no catches and Muhammad only has three scores on this season. Since there have only been four touchdowns by a Chicago wideout this year, Muhammad remains the primary wideout on a team that rarely throws well.

Bobby Wade was released by the Bears earlier this week.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark was a target in the endzone last week but could not make the catch. He rarely has more than two catches or 20 yards in a game lately.

Match Against the Defense: This final home game in Chicago should be a big defensive effort against a Falcons team on a short week and with a banged up Michael Vick. Expect a nice game running here by Thomas Jones but only the minimal passing we have all come to expect. The Falcons have been allowing almost every opponent to rush for good yardage and at least one score in every game and Orton should end up with his standard one touchdown pass. That score favors no player in particular though Muhammad does get the most passes - easily - of any Chicago wideout.

I like the chance for a defensive touchdown in this game as well.