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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 27, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
MIA at HOU SF at KC NE at CIN   updated

Prediction: SEA 13, CHI 16

This big match-up of the cream of the NFC unbeaten teams just took a downturn with the news that Shaun Alexander will miss the game. But the Seahawks are passing better than ever and, actually, so are the Bears. Could it be that this game turns into an air war? Nah - neither defense is going to let that happen.

Update: Desmond Clark remains questionable and has not practiced but the Bears have not ruled him out yet. HC Lovie Smith says he intends on using the tight end position this week even if Clark does not play. But - Clark still could and Smith has stated that he doesn't care if Calark practices or not. I am not adding Clark into the projections because it has to be assumed he will be limited if he even plays at all.

I am also not adding WR Mark Bradley in since he too has missed the practices this week and is questionable with a sprained ankle. It does not appear that he is likely to play as well.

Seattle Seahawks (3-0)
1 9-6 @DET 10 --- STL
2 21-10 ARZ 11 --- @SF
3 42-30 NYG 12 --- GB
4 --- @CHI 13 --- @DEN
5 Open Bye 14 --- @ARZ
6 --- @STL 15 --- SF
7 --- MIN 16 --- SD
8 --- @KC 17 --- @TB
9 --- OAK - MON THU
SEA at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Hasselbeck 10 0 270,1
RB Maurice Morris 40 20 0
RB Mack Strong 10 30 0
TE Will Heller 0 20 0
WR Darrell Jackson 0 70,1 0
WR Deion Branch 0 40 0
WR Bobby Engram 0 60 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 30 0
PK Josh Brown 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: After the ground game struggled to get on track this year, the Seahawks now have lost the biggest locomotive of them all when Alexander was diagnosed with a small fractured bone in his left foot. In steps Maurice Morris who has looked serviceable in limited play but who needs to work on his sense of timing since he starts out as a visitor in Chicago. Matt Hasselbeck tore up the Giants with five passing scores last week and will now have to shoulder the load to keep the Seahawks winning.

Quarterback: After turning in a disappointing one touchdown in his first two games, Matt Hasselbeck discovered a nifty way to boost the average - just throw five scores in one game instead. The amazing fact is that Hasselbeck has remained around 210 to 220 passing yards in every game despite varying between zero and five scores in each. Last week he was aided by his defense that continually gave him the short field and with Alexander now sidelined, figure on the defenses making the quarterback now the prime focus. Hasselbeck still has a problem at tight end with Jerramy Stevens and Itula Mili out, but the Seahawks are turning to a four wideout formation instead. No doubt that is featured a lot this week.

Running Backs: Despite reports that Shaun Alexander will miss between two and six weeks, there is no doubt he won't be suiting up for this game. Maurice Morris steps in to face perhaps the most talented defense across the board and in Chicago no less. Morris has only been around a 4.0 per carry runner in his exceedingly brief time on the field and while Shaun Alexander had 28 touchdowns last year, Morris only had two during his entire four year career. Morris may be a hot commodity on the waiver wire but in Chicago this week and then with a bye in week five, he may end up with almost nothing to show for the opportunity if Alexander returns by week six.

Wide Receivers: Here is where it gets interesting for the Seahawks. With both starting tight ends injured and now the uber-stud running back Alexander out, the wideouts are going to have to make the difference in this ball game. Going against a surprisingly weak showing by the Giants last week, the group accounted for four touchdowns and yet Bobby Engram was tops with only 62 yards on five catches. Darrell Jackson scored twice during his seven catches for 57 yards and even Nate Burleson managed to score with four catches for 42 yards. The newly acquired Deion Branch was used extensively in the game though he ended with only two receptions for 23 yards and was the only receiver who did not score last week.

The Seahawks will spread the field with the four wideouts again this week which should help against a defense that features good cornerbacks. The biggest question here is if Hasselbeck will get enough time to throw. Unfortunately with four wideouts to use, it waters down what any of them individually could do in a standard two wideout formation.

Tight Ends: With both Stevens and Mili out, Will Heller took the start last week and had three catches for 28 yards and a touchdown. He's more adept at blocking which should be an issue this week but showed he can contribute as a receiver as well.

Match Against the Defense: Other than Ahman Green's surprising week one success, opposing running backs have struggled against the Bears and still this defense has not allowed a rushing score. Look for only minimal yardage by Morris this week and no chance of a touchdown.

Hasselbeck will bring in a new style of offense but the Bears have not allowed a passing score yet this season. Seattle should break that string but doing it more than once would be a genuine surprise. Hasselbeck should have some decent yardage here with a running game that will struggle and he obviously has the talent and the wideouts to cause some trouble but against an aggressive Bears defense, too much passing could end up with turnovers and sacks which would doom the visitors here. It may be a new kind of look that Seattle brings into Chicago this week, but it comes at the expense of a rushing game to respect and it's going to be just as new to the offensive players.

Chicago Bears (3-0)
1 26-0 @GB 10 --- @NYG
2 34-7 DET 11 --- @NYJ
3 19-16 @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 SEA Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 0 0 220,1
RB Thomas Jones 50 20 0
TE Gabe Reid 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 70 0
WR Rashied Davis 0 40 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 60,1 0
PK Robbie Gould 3 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears catch a break with Shaun Alexander out this week but the defense at home may have been fine even with him playing. The passing game for Chicago remains a nice surprise this year though the turnovers went up last week in Minneapolis. The rushing game remains in a funk though which could make this game a bit more interesting than it could have been and the likely absence of TE Desmond Clark could make the passing game a bit less effective as well. Like most weeks, the win here will depend on the defense - and that's not a bad unit to rely on.

Quarterback: While Rex Grossman cooled off from his four touchdown performance in week two, he still had one score and 278 yards against the Vikings last Sunday and has remained above 260 passing yards in every game with at least one score. He's likely to miss his new security blanket of Desmond Clark.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones is not enjoying the same level of blocking as he did in 2005 and currently has 60 carries for 181 yards on the season - just a 3.0 yard average. The Bears felt pressed into more passing situations last week and that meant Cedric Benson never played a down as apparently he is not a member of those offensive packages. The reality is hard to discern here but with a running game that has flopped this year and after a full year of practices and off-season training, the notion that Benson is not ready to pass block or even play is better read as meaning the Bears have no confidence in his abilities. Until he shows up in a game with at least moderate yardage, he's not worth projecting or consideration for a fantasy start even as a bye week filler. His best shot now at playing time is a significant injury to Thomas Jones. Actually it may be his only shot.

The Bears rushing woes are largely pinned on the offensive blocking but the success of the passing game should have moved the defense back already. Last year the team could not pass and yet the running game worked just fine despite playing against constant eight man fronts. The reality here is that the Bears have a soft schedule (this week not withstanding) and if the passing game works, the Bears will likely continue their trends.

Wide Receivers: Muhsin Muhammad comes off his second 100 yard game of the year though he has not scored in 2006. His fantasy value shoots up in games where the Bears must throw and his nine catches for 118 yards last week shows how big a feature he is in the passing game. Bernard Berrian did not score for the first time this year but still had six catches for 70 yards against the Vikings while Rashied Davis from the slot notched one touchdown and is becoming a more visible target for Grossman.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark left the Vikings game with an apparent sprained left foot and he has worn a boot to help it heal. Until better information comes out, I am assuming he is out this week which appears very likely. That will mean either John Gilmore or Gabe Reid will fill in for him. Reid was the replacement on Sunday though he had no catches on either of his two passes.

Match Against the Defense: The Seahawks have a top notch rushing defense that has yet to allow a rushing score or any runner to top 64 yards which includes James and Barber. Chicago's run game is already struggling and it won't get any better in this game. With Clark out, Jones could figure into the passing game here though he'll likely need to pick up the blitz on most plays.

Rex Grossman gets a test here because he will have to win the game - or at least not lose it with turnovers. Seattle has allowed four passing scores this year and should give up at least one score with some decent yardage too as all opponents are turning in 230 yards or more against them but no individual wideout has done more than Tyree's 72 yards last week. Look for one score that will go to a wideout and that favors Berrian this week.