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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
GB at DET WAS at HOU STL at ARZ   updated

Prediction: CHI 20, MIN 13

This match-up promises to be much better than originally assumed. The Bears are off to a great start at 2-0 with only seven points allowed over the two games but the Vikings are also 2-0 winning in Washington and then holding off the Panthers last week. The Bears don't run well this year but that defense - always going to be the game changer. This week will be no different.

The Bears won this match-up easily in week six 28-3 but later fell 34-10 in week 17 when they were resting starters for the playoffs.

Chicago Bears (2-0)
1 26-0 @GB 10 --- @NYG
2 34-7 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 at MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 0 0 200,1
RB Thomas Jones 60,1 20 0
RB Cedric Benson 40 10 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 50,1 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 40 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 20 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 50 0
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: While it was expected that the Bears would cruise into this week 2-0, what has been a genuine surprise is that their offense is no longer plugging along via the run but instead is leaping ahead on the passing of Rex Grossman. A win here wins the NFC North trifecta and puts the Bears 3-0 in the division and on the path to the playoffs.

Quarterback: After only playing a handful of games in his first three seasons, Rex Grossman turned in 289 yards and four scores last week to match his career total before this year. Grossman has had games of 262 and 289 yards and five total scores with only one interception. Realistically, those have come against the 0-2 Packers and Lions, but it's encouraging to say the least. If he can remain healthy (big "if' there), this could put the Bears over the top for a playoff run.

Grossman never played against the Vikings last year.

Running Backs: As sparkling as the passing game has been, the rushing efforts have been equally dull. The Bears hold true to a strict 2:1 ratio for Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson and neither has done anything to warrant changing that. It could be argued (and should) that such a rotation only hurts a runner getting into the groove and the linemen knowing how to block, but at 2-0 and with no clearly better runner on board, HC Lovie Smith sees no reason to change. So far the duo have produced roughly 100 rushing yards per game and have yet to score a touchdown.

Thomas Jones had 89 yards and two scores in the week six meeting with the Vikes in 2005 but only had 12 carries for 62 yards in the week 17 game last year when he was pulled early from that game.

Wide Receivers: While Muhsin Muhammad had 102 yards in week one, he fell to only 59 yards last week despite the 289 yards and four scores thrown by Grossman. In his relief, Bernard Berrian posted his second score of the year and ended with 89 yards on five catches. The passing game has been much improved, but it hasn't really turned this crew into much more than moderately productive fantasy wideouts.

Tight Ends: The Bears planned on using Desmond Clark last year and rarely did. In 2006, the plan is underway. Clark comes off a five catch, 85 yard effort last week with a touchdown and actually tops all NFL tight ends in most fantasy leagues.

Match Against the Defense: This should be interesting. The Vikings have only allowed two touchdowns this year - both rushing scores. The Bears so far have none and will be the visitor in Minneapolis where the Panthers just left with exactly 100 rushing yards split by two players (Foster and Williams). Look for a repeat from Jones and Benson since that is exactly what they have been doing as well. As for the score - look for one here from Jones to be most likely.

Grossman has feasted on Green Bay and Detroit, but the Vikings secondary is far better than those teams and much improved from last year. They have yet to allow a passing score and other than Keyshawn last week - no receiver has topped 46 yards against them. Look for a moderate game here from Grossman around 200 yards and for Berrian to have a better matchup against Winfield than Muhammad who draws Fred Smoot. The lone passing score here will end up with most likely Desmond Clark again.

Minnesota Vikings (2-0)
1 19-16 @WAS 10 --- GB
2 16-13 CAR 11 --- @MIA
3 --- CHI 12 --- ARZ
4 --- @BUF 13 --- @CHI
5 --- DET 14 --- @DET
6 Open Bye 15 --- NYJ
7 --- @SEA 16 --- @GB
8 --- NE 17 --- STL
9 --- @SF - MON THU
MIN vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 220,1
RB Chester Taylor 60 60 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 20 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 30 0
WR Troy Williamson 0 70,1 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 30 0
PK Ryan Longwell 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Vikings have reeled off two wins and just like in 2005, both came in games where they could have lost but got the breaks needed to win. If the Vikes are to challenge for the division, it has to go through Chicago and a win here would be huge for the first year HC Brad Childress. One does of reality though - so far their opponents are both 0-2 and now the Bears roll in at 2-0 and having only allowed seven points this year.

Quarterback: Brad Johnson is more a game manager in the new Childress scheme and only has one touchdown this year. But he has been at or above 220 passing yards this year and only has one interception. He's nothing more than a bye week filler in leagues so far and this week he may not be worth even that.

Running Backs: Chester Taylor turned in 131 total yards and a score against the Redskins but that was on 31 carries and three receptions. Last week he had 113 yards on 24 carries and added 15 yards on three receptions against the Panthers. There is no sharing in this backfield beyond the occasional breather, so Taylor takes whatever there is to get. This week - his receptions are almost certain to increase from three per game.

Wide Receivers: it's obvious that the Vikings are relying on Troy Williamson to become their stud wideout and after posting 102 yards on six receptions last week, he's probably on his way. Williamson had a bad case of the drops in week one but improved last Sunday. Travis Taylor remains little more than a possession receiver here with Williamson taking off on post patterns on a regular basis.

Tight Ends: So far Jermaine Wiggins is only turning in a couple of catches a week for around 25 yards.

Match Against the Defense: Oddly enough, Ahman Green rambled for 110 yards against the Bears in week one but then Kevin Jones had the most typical 44 yards last Sunday. Look for Taylor playing at home to split that difference but to increase his receiving totals.

Brad Johnson faces a secondary that has not allowed a passing score. In fact, the only score at all this defense has permitted was last week when Jon Kitna scored on a one-yard run - his only of the game. Expect that Johnson only has moderate yardage here but he should turn in 0ne passing score that favors Williamson if he can break loose at least once downfield.