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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 11, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
HOU at DAL TEN at WAS     updated

Prediction: CHI 27, ARZ 6

A mismatch? Sure. But an interesting game nonetheless with a new quarterback in Arizona and the Bears on a big roll this season. The Cards lose Fitzgerald this week and that can only make every fantasy owner of the Chicago defense even happier.

Chicago Bears (5-0)
1 26-0 @GB 10 --- @NYG
2 34-7 DET 11 --- @NYJ
3 19-16 @MIN 12 --- @NE
4 37-6 SEA 13 --- MIN
5 40-7 BUF 14 --- @STL
6 --- @ARZ 15 --- TB
7 Open Bye 16 --- @DET
8 --- SF 17 --- GB
9 --- MIA - - MON
CHI at ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 0 0 260,2
RB Thomas Jones 60,1 10 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 90,1 0
WR Rashied Davis 0 40 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 100,1 0
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bears have long been a good defense and poor offense that produced a running game in 2005. Now there's a passing game too and the Bears suddenly become worthy of hatred by the rest of the league for a good reason - they appear to be unstoppable. And it has only been getting worse. Imagine home field advantage through out the playoffs in Chicago. Now believe it so.

Quarterback: Rex Grossman has amply returned the favor to the Bears for continuing to believe in him for a couple of injury seasons. Grossman has thrown for ten scores in five games and only once fell below 230 passing yards. For all this he only has three interceptions so far. One interesting caveat here - Grossman on the road has only thrown for two scores in two games played and that is where those three interceptions happened.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones has been cruising with a couple of home games recently that served up around 100 yards in each and allowed him to score twice against the Seahawks. The more interesting aspect was that Cedric Benson went from no carries in week three to having 14 runs for 48 yards and two touchdowns against the visiting Bills last week - his first scores in the NFL. This week answers the question though about the running game since the two road games so far had Jones only producing 63 yards on 21 carries (at GB) and then 54 yards on 18 carries (at MIN).

This week needs to show that the running game is not limited to just the local Chicago area.

Wide Receivers: Look no further than Chicago for the biggest surprise for a fantasy wideout - and not Muhsin Muhammad who has turned in two games over 100 yards and scored once this year. Bernard Berrian entered his third season with just two touchdowns to his credit and around 500 career yards and exploded with Grossman at the helm. Berrian has scored in four of five games this year and still had six catches for 70 yards the lone game where he did not score. Where Berrian has excelled is with the deep ball and while that often cools down pretty fast - it hasn't yet and is not showing any signs of slowing down. Rashied Davis has even turned into a decent slot receiver with two scores already this year.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark opened the year with 162 yards and a score in just his first two games but has settled down to only six catches for 82 yards over the last three weeks. His one catch for 12 yards against the Bills last Sunday is a season low. With the running game improved and the passing game hot enough with the wide outs, Clark is being left behind.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals rushing defense has given up five touchdowns this year but only one game over 100 yards and that was because Norwood broke a very long run. It's hard to guess what the mixture between Jones and Benson will be week to week, but Benson had no carries in the last road game. I am only projecting for Jones on the premise he gets the clear majority of carries if not the entire load, but Benson could figure in.

Grossman faces a secondary that has never given up less than 288 passing yards at home this year. Look for a good game here with the pass that should be nice yardage and at least one score with two likely.

Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
1 34-27 SF 10 --- DAL
2 10-21 @SEA 11 --- DET
3 14-16 STL 12 --- @MIN
4 10-32 @ATL 13 --- @STL
5 20-23 KC 14 --- SEA
6 --- CHI 15 --- DEN
7 --- @OAK 16 --- @SF
8 --- @GB 17 --- @SD
9 Open Bye - - MON
ARZ vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Leinart 0 0 190
RB Edgerrin James 60 40 0
TE Leonard Pope 0 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 50 0
WR Troy Walters 0 40 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 60 0
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 0 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals could take a moral victory from playing the Chiefs closely last week but at 1-4, those moral victories mean even less. The great news coming out of that game was the thoroughly impressive play of the rookie Matt Leinart. The catastrophic news was the hamstring injury to Larry Fitzgerald. Great news + catastrophic news = same old, same old.

Quarterback: To adequately appreciate what Matt Leinart did in his debut is to realize that his 253 passing yards were 80 yards better than any other team has managed against the Chiefs this year. And his two touchdowns? The only ones that the Chiefs have allowed in four games played for 2006. Leinart completed 22 of 35 passes and had one late interception. A very encouraging start for the rookie.

Running Backs: Hopefully Edgerrin James sits at home and admires his bank statements because if he read the box scores he would be less impressed. James ran for only 71 yards on 24 carries last week and that has been around his average. While he scored in both home games against the 49ers and Rams, he was held without a touchdown last week and has only those two on the year. James is being used more in the passing game though, and Leinart completed a season high six passes for 44 yards to James last week. With Fitzgerald out - expect that number very likely to rise.

Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald will miss at least the next two weeks and likely up to a month after what was described as a slight tear to his hamstring. His absence likely will have a huge impact on this offense that had been little more than he and Boldin catching passes for the last two years. In his place, Bryant Johnson will step up and he had six catches for 82 yards last week with Leinart there. Anquan Boldin ended with 71 yards and one touchdown on four catches last week, but 49 yards came at the first of the game when he scored on Leinart's first pass. After that, he only had three receptions for 22 yards. With Fitzgerald out, all the focus will now go to Boldin - both offensive and defensive.

Tight Ends: In his debut, Matt Leinart threw two incompletions to Leonard Pope. Not an encouraging sign.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals are not running well against average opponents and now face the Bears who had not allowed a running back to score a touchdown this year or have more than 74 yards since week one. Expect that the Cardinals will want to run and not be able to but for James to show up again with receptions.

Leinart was a delightful surprise last week and gets the Bears now. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire. The Bears have allowed only one score this year and will know to cover Boldin after last week. With Fitzgerald gone, Boldin may have three defenders accompany him around the field. Expect a lower effort this week but then again - Leinart surprised us all last week.