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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 13, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
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DET at CHI OAK at BAL STL at SF   updated

Prediction: DET 6, CHI 17

The Lions may be 0-1 yet again, but there's definitely something different about the new Marinelli team. Holding the Seahawks to a mere nine points indicates that the defense has vastly improved in a very short time but only scoring six points shows Martz still has a long way to go on this offense. The Bears begin their season with the first ever shutout of Brett Favre - in Lambeau no less - and while the backfield remains a muddled mess, the passing game is showing a spark. This is probably a bad place for the Lions to be searching for their first touchdown of 2006.

The Bears swept the Lions 38-6 and 19-13 last year.

Detroit Lions (0-1)
1 6-9 SEA 10 --- SF
2 --- @CHI 11 --- @ARZ
3 --- GB 12 --- MIA
4 --- @STL 13 --- @NE
5 --- @MIN 14 --- MIN
6 --- BUF 15 --- @GB
7 --- @NYJ 16 --- CHI
8 Open Bye 17 --- @DAL
9 --- ATL - - THU
DET at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna 10 0 190
RB Kevin Jones 40 20 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 10 0
WR Roy Williams 0 60 0
WR Mike Furrey 0 50 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 40 0
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Marinelli era has begun and at least the defense is holding their own. The Lions only allowed the reigning NFL rushing leader Shaun Alexander to gain 51 yards on 19 carries and not score - something he did merely 28 times in 2005. The Mike Martz offensive scheme hasn't seen the passing game catch fire but it has depressed the rushing yards so consider it half installed so far.

Quarterback: Jon Kitna may have only had 229 yards last week but he had no turnovers and was sacked only three times - pretty good for a Martz quarterback. The Seattle defense is good which may explain the performance but the Chicago defense is downright great and at home this week. Kitna will likely have those 229 yards as a season high for one more week.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones went against a very solid rush defense last week and only managed to gain 35 yards on 14 carries with five receptions for 45 yards to maintain some fantasy value. He isn't sharing the ball like last year but that doesn't matter much when he only gains around 2.5 yards per carry. Heading into Chicago won't make him feel any better.

Kevin Jones only had 22 yards at the game in Chicago last year but turned in 66 yards and a score during the meeting in Detroit.

Wide Receivers: Roy Williams is expected to be the big benefactor of the new offense but he only had three catches for 36 yards last week and that was on only seven passes thrown his way. Mike Furrey fared better from the slot with five grabs for 55 yards and Corey Bradford only managed three receptions for 36 yards. So far, Kitna is spreading the meager wealth around enough to make none of them merit much fantasy attention and that won't likely change this week though Williams had five catches for 96 yards and a score in Chicago last year.

Mike Williams was not even active for the Seattle game and remains buried on the depth chart.

Tight Ends: Marcus Pollard turned in two catches for 21 yards and in a Martz offense - that's a pretty big week.

Pollard turned in games of 31 and 35 yards against the Bears in 2005.

Match Against the Defense: Expect Kevin Jones to turn in low numbers this week against a team he has not managed to run well against (nor has really any opponent). If he tops 50 yards this week they should throw a party.

Kitna is not making many mistakes which is good and he is being protected by his line better than expected. Look for only moderate numbers here though without a score. Installing a new offense against the home-bound Bears is just too much to ask but the brighter news is that Roy Williams should manage a slightly better game this week if Martz will stick to throwing to him.

Chicago Bears (1-0)
1 26-0 @GB 10 --- @NYG
2 --- DET 11 --- @NYJ
3 --- @MIN 12 --- @NE
4 --- SEA 13 --- MIN
5 --- BUF 14 --- @STL
6 --- @ARZ 15 --- TB
7 Open Bye 16 --- @DET
8 --- SF 17 --- GB
9 --- MIA - - MON
CHI vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 0 0 180,1
RB Thomas Jones 60 10 0
RB Cedric Benson 30 10 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 40,1 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 60 0
WR Rashied Davis 0 10 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 40 0
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears had little trouble taking down the error-prone Packers last week and Rex Grossman not only made it through the entire game without injury, he posted a career high 262 yards. With the running game only average so far, the addition of a passing attack to respect can only help the entire offense. This will always be a run-first, defend well-second attack but the rest of the league does not want to see the pass come to life in Chicago. There's already plenty enough to worry about in those games.

Quarterback: Rex Grossman had an impressive start to the season when he completed 18 of 26 for 262 yards and one touchdown against one interception. Grossman made great use of both the wideouts and tight end and will bring a new aspect to this offense if he can only exceed that mythical three game barrier that usually gets him every year.

Running Backs: After playing musical running backs since all the way to last season, the Bears went with Thomas Jones as the starter against the Packers but he only managed to gain 63 yards on 21 carries without a score. Cedric Benson was deemed healthy enough to play at least a supporting role and he could only gain 34 yards on 11 runs. The running game was better last year but both backs are not 100% healthy (though close). Until one of them clearly outplays the other, it will be a weekly guessing game as to who plays more. The 2:1 ratio was pretty much in line with what happened last year when both were healthy.

Thomas Jones ran for 139 yards and two scores in Chicago last year and later had just 97 yards in Detroit. Benson played in each game, recording 49 yards on 16 carries in Chicago in week two and later 35 yards on only three carries in week eight.

Wide Receivers: A wonderful sign of how improved the passing game appears is the 102 yards on six catches posted by Muhsin Muhammad last week. Bernard Berrian took the starting flanker role and scored on his only catch in the game. While there were only seven catches by wideouts, they accounted for 151 yards and the only touchdown in the game.

Muhammad had two good games last year when the Bears met the Lions, turning in 81 yards and a score in Chicago and later 49 yards and one score in Detroit.

Tight Ends: The Bears wanted to involve the tight end last year but it never happened. In 2006, they must have finally reached it on their "to do" list because Desmond Clark had five catches for 77 yards.

Match Against the Defense: No surprise that the Bears will use their two-headed monster rushing attack but the new defense of Detroit was nothing short of stellar last week. This week will show if that was a one game surprise or truly turning the corner but until it is certain, do not expect more than moderate numbers here. What should help is the higher volume of carries this week but since it is getting split - the expectations cannot be too high.

Grossman goes against a secondary that can still be beaten but is no longer giving up the big pass. Look for moderate numbers with a chance for one score that should favor Clark this week. Dre Bly draws Muhsin Muhammad and should give Grossman a reason to look elsewhere more than last week. I like the chance of a defensive score in this game. A Martz offense on the road almost commands it in Chicago.