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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 22, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
  CIN at CLE NYG at TEN   Updated

Prediction: CHI 17, NE 13

The Bears come off their second shutout of the season and at 9-1 now are tied for the best record in the NFL and an amazing three games ahead of any other NFC team. The Bears could literally hibernate for a few weeks and still end up with homefield throughout the playoffs. The Patriots come off their own shutout in Green Bay and at 7-3 remain strongly in the lead for the AFC East title. This will be a most interesting game records aside. The team that the Bears just skunked was the same team that beat the Pats the previous week. Both teams have played the Packers and both shut them out in Green Bay. The most surprising stat? That the Bears are 5-0 on the road and yet the Pats are only 2-3 at home.

Update: Thomas Jones has been upgraded to probable with a groin strain and returned to practice on Thursday. He is expected to play as is Desmond Clark who was also upgraded to probable. Bernard Berrian will start this week and his ribs are almost completely healed now. He played last week while still limited but had no catches. He should be used more this week.

Chicago Bears (9-1)
1 26-0 @GB 10 38-20 @NYG
2 34-7 DET 11 10-0 @NYJ
3 19-16 @MIN 12 --- @NE
4 37-6 SEA 13 --- MIN
5 40-7 BUF 14 --- @STL
6 24-23 @ARZ 15 --- TB
7 Open Bye 16 --- @DET
8 41-10 SF 17 --- GB
9 13-31 MIA - - MON
CHI at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 0 0 180,1
RB Thomas Jones 80,1 20 0
RB Cedric Benson 30 0 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 40 0
WR Mark Bradley 0 60,1 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 40 0
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: A loss here won't hurt too much given the dull showings by the rest of the NFC this year but this will be the toughest game - and only winning record - left on the Bears schedule this year. If they can make it past the Pats without a loss, then only a trap game would keep them from a record of 15-1 on the season. And the cold weather is hardly an inconvenience to the Bears.

Quarterback: Rex Grossman continues his inconsistent play despite the ability of the Bears to win regardless. Grossman only competed 11 of 22 for 119 yards against the Jets with one touchdown thrown. He had three scores in New York the previous week. But he only had one against the Fins before that. He had three scores against the 49ers before that but no scores in Arizona... and so on.. It all depends on which Grossman shows up.

Grossman has thrown for 18 scores this year and is tied for third best in the NFL currently.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones is running strongly the last month with three efforts over 100 rushing yards in the last four games. His 121 yards on 23 carries last week against the Jets was a season high. Jones only has four scores on the year so far but is at least getting 20 carries each week. He has almost remained healthy so far - another big plus.

Cedrick Benson added 51 yards on ten carries against the Jets in his best effort of the year but usually does not play much in road games.

Wide Receivers: Mark Bradley didn't start last week but played often in place of the limited Bernard Berrian. Bradley had a season high 80 yards last week thanks to a 57-yard touchdown catch and that made it two weeks in a row that he scored with almost the exact same 80 yards for the week. Berrian was able to play but had no catches on two passes and Muhsin Muhammad had just 29 yards on two catches. Throw in Rashied Davis and the on-again, off-again nature of Grossman and this unit is hard to forecast. I am assuming that Berrian will be improved to play this week but will replace Davis with Clayton after two great weeks.

Tight Ends: Just like last week, Desmond Clark had just one catch for two yards only this time he was not standing in the endzone. Clark is a factor near the endzone but has tailed off on the big yardage games of a few weeks past.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriot rush defense has been very good this year but has yet to face any top rushing teams. And four visitors have recorded one rushing score. The problem for most is that they have not had more than 17 carries when in New England other than Tatum Bell (27-123). Since the Bears are bringing the best defense to face the Pats, expect that to depress the game score and help on field position - which should help the running game. Jones should not have a big game here but he can manage a good effort with one score.

The Patriots pass defense has been statistically good as well but have gone through a litany of bad quarterbacks - Losman, Harrington, Pennington, Brad Johnson, etc. If Grossman played hot, he could turn in two scores here and nice yardage. If he has an off game, it will be more like one score if he is lucky. Best bet is to expect just moderate numbers here with one score. The Pats are weaker against wideouts and that should favor either Berrian or Bradley, depending on which one takes the flanker role that play. I will project for Bradley given that Berrian is still not 100% but Bradley is likely a marked man with two nice games in a row.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 15 13 11 9 1 1
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 3 4 16 2 2 11


New England Patriots (7-3)
1 19-17 BUF 10 14-17 NYJ
2 24-17 @NYJ 11 35-0 @GB
3 7-17 DEN 12 --- CHI
4 38-13 @CIN 13 --- DET
5 20-10 MIA 14 --- @MIA
6 Open Bye 15 --- HOU
7 28-6 @BUF 16 --- @JAX
8 31-7 @MIN 17 --- @TEN
9 20-27 IND - - MON
NEP vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 220,1
RB Corey Dillon 40 10 0
RB Lawrence Maroney 50 10 0
TE Ben Watson 0 30 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 10 0
WR Doug Gabriel 0 40,1 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 50 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 40 0
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: Nothing like a dominating shut out to make amends for dropping the Jets game. Now that the Pats have reversed that nasty two game losing streak, they hit what could be their toughest game of the rest of the year (either this or in Jacksonville). A loss here hurts neither team really but the Pats need this win just to continue to build momentum. The fact that they have lost more home games than won also needs to be rectified but so far their only brush with a top defense (DEN) resulted in a loss.

Quarterback: Thanks in part to his four touchdown effort last week, Tom Brady now has 19 passing scores on the year and trails only Peyton Manning. Brady has thrown at least one score in every game other than the loss to the Colts but most of his bad efforts have come at home where five games have resulted in only six touchdowns. After getting blasted by the Jets in week ten, the Patriots are replacing the grass with turf but that only gives more traction to the Chicago pass rush.

Running Backs: No change for the duo of Maroney and Dillon. While Laurence Maroney usually has better yardage than Dillon - but not exclusively - it is Corey Dillon who does most of the scoring. Maroney has not rushed a touchdown since week four while Dillon has seven scores on the season and scores exactly every other game. Unfortunately, he just scored last week. And Maroney's now taken to scoring via the pass last week.

Wide Receivers: The always changing rotation of wideouts in New England has currently seen Reche Caldwell turn in two nice games with scores on successive weeks - that almost never happens. Doug Gabriel has been quiet the last two weeks with just two catches and little yardage while Jabar Gaffney had three catches for 65 yards in week ten and then one catch for just four yards last Sunday. Chad Jackson has done almost nothing in the last three weeks. Expect that to all reverse soon.

Caldwell had a 54-yard score last week for the longest play from scrimmage for the Pats this year. With three scores, he has already tied a career high.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson had five catches for 74 yards and a score last week in one of his best efforts of the year. Watson remains good for 30 yards each week with a shot for more depending on Brady.

Match Against the Defense: This is where the game will get interesting to be sure. The Bears defense has allowed only one running back to score a touchdown this season. With the pair of backs sharing carries, expect no more than a moderate game from either and no scores.

The Chicago secondary is ranked #1 against quarterbacks and has held six opponents to no passing scores. No opponent has thrown for more than 232 yards against the Bears this year and the last three had two interceptions in each game. Look for Brady to throw for one score here that will have to favor a wideout. I will credit Gabriel with the score since he is on the side most often allowing a score but any of them have an equal chance.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 7 4 18 6 26 25
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 1 3 7 1 3 15