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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 28, , 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 4:30 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM SEA at GB*
DEN at SD* ARI at IND CHI at MIN* NO at TB WAS at PHI*
Sat 8 PM BAL at CLE CIN at KC Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Updated* CAR at ATL MIA at NE TEN at JAC* Times ET

Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Kansas City 31

The surprising loss to the Bills last week took the Bengals out of contention for a first round bye so there is really nothing to win for the Bengals. The Chiefs remain alive for a wild card but would need a win here and a loss by the Steelers to make it into the playoffs (unlikely, but so was the Buffalo win in Cincinnati last week). Bottom line - the Chiefs have not lost at home in December for years.

Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)
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 41-17 @DET
7 13-27 PIT 16 27-37 BUF
8 21-14 GBP 17 Jan 1 @KCC
9 21-9 @BAL . . SAT
CIN at KC Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 260,3
RB Rudi Johnson 70 0 0
TE Matt Schobel 0 20 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 120,2 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 90,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 20 0
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The loss to the Bills was as painful as it was surprising but the Bengals have already clinched the AFC North and will host a round one game regardless. But the Bengals come off what they described as their worst game of the year and saw two star players get injured in the process - Carson Palmer tweaked his groin and CB Deltha O'Neal sprained his knee. That means the Bengals are going to want to win this game to enter the playoffs on a high note and when that does not seem likely, Palmer could get pulled to rest him for games that really matter.

Quarterback: Even in the loss with the injury, Carson Palmer still threw for 266 yards and two scores giving him at least two scores in eight of the last nine games. Palmer should be able to exploit the Chiefs defense this week unless his groin acts up or there appears to be any risk that he gets injured in a game that is not going to be a victory.

Running Backs: Last week's fiasco caused Rudi Johnson to end his six game scoring streak and his 88 rushing yards were his worst in five weeks. Though contrary to traditional wisdom, Johnson has played better in road games than at home. He has scored seven touchdowns in away games and only five at home.

Wide Receivers: While the rest of the team may have turned in a down performance last week, Chad Johnson still had nine catches for 117 yards and one score while T.J. Houshmandzadeh was held to 70 yards and no scores for the first time in five weeks. Chris Henry has returned from a team suspension and he had one catch for a score last week as well. There is nothing wrong with this receiving unit that is about to face one of the worst secondaries in the league.

Tight Ends: Only two scores all season and rarely more than one catch per game.

Match Against the Defense: The Chiefs rushing defense has been very solid at home and only has allowed two rush scores to opposing runners and not one 100 yard rushing game. Expect Johnson to remain below 100 yards again this week and likely to not score again this week.

Carson Palmer will have to win this game and all opponents throw at least one touchdown or more against the Chiefs. If Palmer remains healthy and in the game for all four quarters, he could easily toss 300 yards or more against the Chiefs but the risk will be that he does remain healthy and that he is not yanked at any point from a game that actually is meaningless. I am assuming that he plays the entire game and is not hampered by his groin injury, but realize the risk is there.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)
1 27-7 NYJ 10 3-14 @BUF
2 23-17 @OAK 11 45-17 @HOU
3 10-30 @DEN 12 26-16 NE
4 31-37 PHI 13 31-27 DEN
5 Open Bye 14 28-31 @DAL
6 28-21 WAS 15 17-27 @NYG
7 30-20 @MIA 16 20-7 SDC
8 20-28 @SDC 17 Jan 1 CIN
9 27-23 OAK . MON SAT
KCC vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 0 0 260,2
RB Larry Johnson 140,2 30 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 80,1 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 60,1 0
WR Samie Parker 0 40 0
WR Dante Hall 0 20 0
PK Lawrence Tynes 1 FG 4 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chiefs comes off a dominating performance over the Chargers that keeps their slim playoff hopes alive. There are questions too if this may not end up as Dick Vermeil's last game and since the Chiefs are unbeatable at home in December, the Chiefs will play this one as if it is their last. If very likely could be just that in more ways than one if Vermeil and Holmes are gone next year.

Quarterback: Trent Green's production has tailed off in road games this season but he's been consistently posting scores at home including two in each of the last home stands. Bottom line is that the Chiefs have been getting into shootouts in most home games because their defense has kept opponents in the game and Larry Johnson alone as not been enough. Pretty close - but not enough just by himself.

Running Backs: Larry Johnson has now ran for over 100 yards in all eight starts this season and scored in all but one - even then he had 178 total yards against the Bills that week. Johnson is playing every bit as well as Priest Holmes ever has and actually - a bit better since Johnson already has the franchise record for consecutive 100 yard games.

Wide Receivers: Eddie Kennison has been the only consistent aspect to the wideouts for the Chiefs this season but he has only had around 20 yards in each of the last two games. Samie Parker has been more productive lately and scored last week for the first time in six games. Still - if there is any reliable wideout for the Chiefs it is Kennison - but there is not always a good one every game.

Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez has remained over 50 yards in almost every game this year but has not managed a 100 yard game yet and has only two scores on the year. He's declined from being the great tight end to being a really good one.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals have been better than most against the run this year but so far Larry Johnson has been a bulldozer in every game he has played. Expect at least 100 rushing yards and one score because we cannot be certain he is even capable of less. Particularly at home. With the desire to keep the ball away from the Bengals offense and knowing this could be the final game of the year, don't be surprised if Johnson has an obscene amount of carries this week - like 35 or more.

The Bengals rank 31st against tight ends so expect Gonzalez to turn in one of his best efforts of the year here and for Green to throw at least two scores and decent yardage. The Bengals rank poorly against the pass and that is considering that they have played a rather light schedule for most of this season.