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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 6, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Nite
BAL at KC NYG at CAR   SEA at ARZ *updated

Prediction: CHI 24, STL 17

The Bears have clinched the NFC North with four games left to play and the only thing the 10-2 Bears have left to play for is home field advantage through out the post season. They could get that in a couple of weeks. The Rams started the year well but now are trying to stem an implosion after losing five of the last six games. They are due for a win, but the Bears are not one for giving early Christmas presents. This is the Monday night game so both teams will be motivated on a national stage.

Chicago Bears (10-2)
1 26-0 @GB 10 38-20 @NYG
2 34-7 DET 11 10-0 @NYJ
3 19-16 @MIN 12 13-17 @NE
4 37-6 SEA 13 23-13 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 Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 0 0 170,1
RB Thomas Jones 80,1 10 0
RB Cedric Benson 60,1 10 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 20 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 60,1 0
WR Rashied Davis 0 20 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 40 0
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bears rank #1 in points allowed with just 150 on the year or just a shade under 13 points per game. The passing game is a shambles and it just doesn't matter or seem to overly concern Lovie Smith. And since the rest of the schedule goes against four of the worst teams in the league, the biggest problem for the Bears is showing up in the playoffs and thinking that will be anywhere close to how easy the end of the regular season will be.

Quarterback: Rex Grossman was a genuine surprise when he started the year out as one of the best passers in the NFL but the true Rex is harder to define after three horrible games in a row. Grossman has thrown three interceptions in each of the last two games and ended up with just 34 passing yards against the Vikings last week. The fans and media are calling for Brian Griese to get a chance but Lovie Smith stands behind Grossman. And with the next four games as easy as those early in the year, Grossman will likely look okay until the playoffs hit and the Bears wish they had given Griese some playing time.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones has been hampered with a groin strain and only carried 12 times for 32 yards against the Vikings - and that was with a 16 yard gain on the first carry. Cedric Benson ran for 60 yards on just nine carries and scored the only offensive touchdown last week. For three weeks now Benson has been running as well or better than Jones but that could be due to Jones' groin at least in part. But for three weeks, Benson has been given around ten carries per game and doing some nice things with the chance. As the season winds down and the Bears have little to play for, chances are Benson's playing time will continue to provide at least some fantasy value if not more improvement if the Bears elect to rest Jones for the playoffs.

Wide Receivers: These last three weeks have been especially rough on Muhsin Muhammad who went from scoring every game for three weeks to never having more than 37 yards in a game. Bernard Berrian had 104 yards in week 12 against the Patriots but only gained 31 yards in the three other games in the last month. Grossman has just lost the ability to connect with any receiver lately but at least the final month should be a cakewalk and allow the passing game to look better - if they bother to use it.

Tight Ends: The three weeks of death have left Desmond Clark with only 16 yards on three catches in total and no receptions last week.

Match Against the Defense: The Rams rushing defense has declined over the course of the season and now even Edgerrin James can run for more than 100 yards and the Cards ran in three scores last week. Look for a big total rushing effort here that will be split between Jones and Benson with at least one rushing score if not two. It will depend on how healthy Jones' groin is as to which runner has the biggest game.

Grossman faces a secondary that has always allowed at least one passing score though lower yardage since teams just run on them lately. Muhammad gets the matchup that most often produces scores but it will all depend on what the defense and rushing game put up in the game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 23 16 14 11 1 1
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 6 30 24 7 24 21


St. Louis Rams (5-7)
1 18-10 DEN 10 22-24 @SEA
2 13-20 @SF 11 0-15 @CAR
3 16-14 @ARZ 12 20-17 SF
4 41-34 DET 13 20-34 ARZ
5 23-20 @GB 14 --- CHI
6 28-30 SEA 15 --- @OAK
7 Open Bye 16 --- WAS
8 24-38 @SD 17 --- @MIN
9 17-31 KC - - MON
STL vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 230,1
RB Steven Jackson 60,1 50 0
TE J. Klopfenstein 0 10 0
WR Torry Holt 0 80,1 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 60 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 20 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Hard times in St. Louis. Losing to the visiting Cardinals is like getting a giant "L" tattooed to the forehead and it sent the team into a players-only meeting. According to Marc "ouch, my ribs" Bulger, several teammates just don't care" and he seemed no less upset after airing grievances. Now the Rams get to host the #1 defense in the NFL and try to get back on track? Outside of feeding short passes to Jackson, this offense has hit hard times to be sure.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger has been playing with bruised ribs for weeks now and was hit hard by the Cards last week. He was scheduled for an MRI to diagnose the extent of the injury this week but I will assume he will return for what could be the biggest bruise of the year this week. Bulger finally turned in a good yardage game when he threw for 314 against the Cards and while he finally had two touchdowns for the first time in six weeks, he threw a season high three interceptions. Over the previous three games while hurt, Bulger had only thrown for one score and just 215 yards at most.

Running Backs: Steven Jackson leads all NFL running backs with 622 receiving yards on 72 catches. He just broke the 1000 yard mark in rushing with 1028 yards on the season. For the last five weeks, he has been the leading receiver for the team in terms of catches and Bulger's sore ribs have made the short flip to Jackson more common each week. While Jackson has scored in five of the last seven games, he has only topped 100 rushing yards once since week three. He has become the offense during this dark period for the Rams passing game.

Wide Receivers: It took the Cardinals to visit, but finally Torry Holt had a big game when he turned seven catches into 115 yards and one score - his first touchdown in six games after scoring for five consecutive weeks. Even Isaac Bruce had the rare good game with 75 yards on five receptions and a score last week. But until Bulger's ribs improve and the Cardinals return, this passing game has been oddly mediocre outside of Steven Jackson.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value and just one catch per week.

Match Against the Defense: Steven Jackson has only turned in moderate rushing yardage this year in most games and even that will likely be hard to accomplish against a defense that has been one of the best against running backs this year. There is a good chance that Jackson can score if the ball ends up near the goal line but no more than once.

Bulger has the unenviable task of facing the #2 defense against quarterbacks and only two of six road opponents have managed to score any passing touchdowns against them. On the road with the division under their belt already, look for a slightly lesser effort from the Bears defense that will allow Bulger to throw for moderate yardage here and that will favor Holt to score again. Those few wideouts that have scored against the Bears this year invariably are the stars from their team.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 11 14 7 26 2 19
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 2 6 4 1 3 19