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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: Cincinnati 27, Detroit 7

The Bengals struggled to a win over the Browns last week and it wasn't because they were looking ahead to this game. At 10-3, the Bengals only need one more win to cement the AFC North division and the home game against the Bills next week should capture that if nothing else. The Lions post-Mariucci look a lot like when he was still there. Particularly in the standings.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-3)
1 27-13 @CLE 10 Open Bye
2 37-8 MIN 11 37-45 IND
3 24-7 @CHI 12 42-29 BAL
4 16-10 HOU 13 38-31 @PIT
5 20-23 @JAC 14 23-20 CLE
6 31-23 @TEN 15 Dec 18 @DET
7 13-27 PIT 16 Dec 24 BUF
8 21-14 GBP 17 Jan 1 @KCC
9 21-9 @BAL . . SAT
CIN at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 250,2
RB Rudi Johnson 100,1 10 0
TE Matt Schobel 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 80 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 90,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 40,1 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bengals had an off-week when they hosted the Browns last Sunday but they still managed to pull off a win on the final play. It was a down game for both Palmer and Chad Johnson at a time not enjoyed by fantasy owners and the monster games of the three previous weeks against great defenses suddenly ended. Back on track with something still to win, the Bengals get to hand the Lions their fifth straight loss.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer only managed a season low of 93 passing yards against the Browns - that's closer to a third of what we have been seeing from him this year. It ended a streak of five games with multiple scores and was just the proverbial "bad day". Not to worry - Palmer has thrown for at least two scores in every road game this year. Now just focus, Carson, focus!

Running Backs: The Bengals have lost Chris Perry to high ankle sprain likely for the rest of the regular season though there is hope he will return for the playoffs. Rudi Johnson is making that loss a non-factor though, he ran for a season high 169 yards and one score last week and he has scored in each of the last five games including three with two touchdowns.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson had to make his first check on the list of cornerbacks who could cover him when he only caught two passes for 22 yards last week - he had nine catches for 91 yards in the previous match-up against the Browns. Just a bad day all around. T.J. Houshmandzadeh did catch one score but only had 53 yards for one of his lowest games as well. The duo should be back to form this week with a wake up call received.

Tight Ends: "Fuhgedda bout it"

Match Against the Defense: The Lions defense had been tough against the run in the first half of the season but now is allowing a rushing score in each of the last six games. Expect another good game here from Rudi without Perry around to hawk any action.

The post-Mariucci Lions have been worse against the pass and allowed two scores in each of the two home games since he left. Expect that Carson Palmer is better than Vick or Brad Johnson and throws at least two here with decent yardage. CB Dre Bly was burned by Koren Robinson two weeks ago as a final insult but he should be better against Chad Johnson and hold him to more moderate yardage unless Johnson catches a long one - always likely

Detroit Lions (4-9)
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 16-21 MIN
5 35-17 BAL 14 13-16 @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 CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia 0 0 180,1
RB Artose Pinner 30 10 0
RB Shawn Bryson 20 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 20 0
WR Roy Williams 0 60,1 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 2 0
WR Mike Williams 0 30 0
WR Scottie Vines 0 40 0
PK Jason Hanson 0 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: On the plus side, the latest losses were pretty close. Then again - still losses. The Lions offense is lethargic at best and has not scored more than one touchdown in the last four games. This is the final home game for Detroit and the rumors are that many fans intend on wearing orange in support of the Bengals as a protest against Matt Millen and all the folly of his tenure.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia was named the starter as the "best chance for us to win" which in retrospect has not been a difference maker. Garcia has now started three games with only two touchdowns to show for the effort. He had not thrown for more than 154 yards and has been playing like Kyle Orton (but without a good defense). No word that the team will shift back to Harrington who was actually better than this.

Running Backs: The reports are that Kevin Jones' has an injured elbow and will not play this week. Jones ripped off a 40 yard run last week in the first offensive series but seeing that he was going to be effective, he got injured a few plays later. in his place Artose Pinner ran for 25 yards on only 13 carries and Shawn Bryson added 16 more yards on five runs. This is just bad and getting worse.

I am assuming Jones misses this game but it would not really matter much if he did play.

Wide Receivers: The Lions continue to try to see if Charles Rogers can contribute and his play keeps saying "why no, I cannot do anything". Rogers has to be gone next year - no question. Roy Williams remains the best option here and he scored against the Packers but also dropped what would have been a big gainer as well. Mike Williams is locked at one catch for six yards for two weeks now and Scottie Vines does more though it only means a few more yards per game than Mike Williams. Assumedly Garcia practices with these wideouts but several passes last week were to invisible targets downfield.

Tight Ends: Heck of a way for Marcus Pollard to play out his final time in the NFL. No more than 24 yards in any game for the last month.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals are only average against the run but the Lions can only dream of being average with the run. No decent fantasy outlook here.

Garcia faces a team that has allowed almost every team to throw for at least one score but that seems to be the ceiling for Garcia now. Expect moderately low passing yardage and one score - anything else will be a major success with this team that appears to not care anymore.