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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
updated IND at HOU TEN at BUF CIN at DEN NYJ at MIA

Prediction: CHI 24, DET 14

Here's a tough game to call. The Bears own the best record in the NFC and already have locked up the #1 seed in the NFC. They have nothing to win or lose here other than players to injury. The Lions may change players, they may change coaches, they can even get a new stadium but it all ends up in the same "shell of a team" place at the end of every season. The tough aspect to this game is figuring how the Bears will win and by how much. No need to go into hibernation quite yet and the ability to beat the Lions is now the first check made by emergency rooms to ensure the patient is still alive.

The Bears won 34-7 when they hosted the Lions in week two.

Update: Thomas Jones is questionable to play this week with sore ribs and is likely to be rested this week with nothing on the line. Jones has not practiced on Wednesday or Thursday. That should give Cedric Benson his first start of the season but the Bears have never used just one back for an entire game other than Jones. Adrian Peterson could get some playing time this week as well.

Chicago Bears (12-2)
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 42-27 @STL
6 24-23 @ARZ 15 34-31 TB
7 Open Bye 16 --- @DET
8 41-10 SF 17 --- GB
9 13-31 MIA - - MON
CHI at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 0 0 180,1
RB Thomas Jones 70,1 20 0
RB Cedric Benson 90,1 0 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 30 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 50 0
WR Rashied Davis 0 30 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 50 0
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears thought they had it won last week when they had a 21 point lead but the Buccaneers made it interesting thanks to a defense that is losing more players each week. DT Tommie Harris and S Mike Brown are already on injured reserve and CB Nate Vasher is nursing a sore hamstring and SS Todd Johnson has an ankle sprain. Throw on top of that the significant legal woes of Tank Johnson and this unit is starting to shrink down to Brian Urlacher and a group of replacements. Winning the NFC North and the #1 seed was huge because now the Bears can focus on getting healthy.

Quarterback: Rex Grossman comes off a career high game of 339 yards against the Buccaneers last week and that makes two straight weeks with no interceptions and two scores - a much needed turn around from the games against the Pats and Vikings when he had three interceptions and no scores. Now Grossman gets to face two of the worst defenses in the league to end the season and the only question here is if Brian Griese is given some playing time. No need to get Grossman hurt when it does not matter, but no indication that the Bears intend resting anyone yet.

Grossman threw for 289 yards and four scores when the Lions visited in week two.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones was questionable last week with a sore ankle but played because he always plays whenever possible rather than allow Cedric Benson any more playing time than necessary. Jones gained 68 yards on 17 carries and scored his sixth touchdown of the season but he has not had a decent rushing game over 76 yards for the last month. Cedric Benson ran 15 times for 53 yards and a score as well and that gives him three touchdowns in the last four games and around 50 or 60 yards in those games. The only difference now between Jones and Benson is that Jones starts and gets a bit more carries and Benson is never used as a receiver. While the Bears could use this week to give Thomas a rest, they have never used any ration that does not favor Jones when he plays and he always plays if possible.

Jones only gained 64 yards on 21 carries while Benson ran for 25 yards on ten runs in the first meeting with the Lions. Jones ran for 72 yards on 22 carries in Detroit last year.

Wide Receivers: Grossman had a career best game last week but the wideouts did not share in the bounty much thanks to Desmond Clark. With nothing on the line anymore, the passing game will be even harder to predict but both Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian should manage to post moderate numbers for the next two weeks - but there won't be any great need to have either turn in big games.

Bernard Berrian turned in five receptions for 89 yards and one score back in week two while Muhammad only had 59 yards on four catches.

Tight Ends: Safely tucked away on everyone's fantasy bench last week, Desmond Clark had a career best game with seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns after having only six catches for 36 yards over the previous five games.

Clark had five catches for 85 yards and a score against the Lions in week two while John Gilmore had just two catches for eight yards - and both were touchdowns.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears have nothing to win here and several players that could use some rest. For a team with a wildly varying passing game and a rushing attack that is split up in every game, it becomes all the more unpredictable. Best bet this week is that the Bears run the ball against a horrible defense and post only enough passing yards and score to make Grossman feel good about going to the podium after the game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 18 13 13 8 1 1
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 22 26 13 20 26 31


Detroit Lions (2-12)
1 6-9 SEA 10 13-19 SF
2 7-34 @CHI 11 10-17 @ARZ
3 24-31 GB 12 10-27 MIA
4 34-41 @STL 13 21-28 @NE
5 17-26 @MIN 14 20-30 MIN
6 20-17 BUF 15 9-17 @GB
7 24-31 @NYJ 16 --- CHI
8 Open Bye 17 --- @DAL
9 30-14 ATL - - THU
DET vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna 0 0 240,2
RB Arlen Harris 30 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 20 0
WR Roy Williams 0 80,1 0
WR Mike Furrey 0 70,1 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 50 0
PK Jason Hanson 0 FG 2XP -

Pregame Notes: After losing their last six games, the Lions are wrapping up the season by facing the Bears and Cowboys. Just another promising season that is ending with players on injured reserve, a passing game that never takes form and a defense that gets progressively worse as the year wears on. Even Roy Williams is just muttering to himself by now.

Quarterback: Jon Kitna had an excellent chance to get back on track last week when he faced the soft secondary of the Packers but he only managed to throw for 135 yards and two interceptions with one lost fumble. The rushing game with Arlen Harris is so bad that Kitna was the leading rusher last week with seven runs for 35 yards. That's as many runs as he usually would have over five games. The offensive line blocking is almost non-existent and the Lions are yet again waiting for the year to end. Kitna had thrown for at least one score in ten of the last eleven games until last week but he's picked up a remarkable ability to lose the football lately.

Kitna only had 230 passing yards and no scores in the first meeting with the Bears.

Running Backs: When Kevin Jones left, he took the rushing game and that was against two soft defenses. Arlen Harris the starter has ten carries for 30 yards in the last two games. Enough said.

Jones ran for only 44 yards on 12 carries against the Bears this season.

Wide Receivers: Both Mike Furrey and Roy Williams had terrible performances last week but they only had eight passes even thrown at them in Green Bay. The duo should bounce back this week against an injury-depleted Bears defense that no longer has anything to gain but getting defenders healthy. Corey Bradford's return to the team has yet to mean more than 40 yards in the best of games.

Williams caught six passes for 71 yards and Furrey had six receptions for 67 yards against the Bears this year.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears are having significant injury problems on defense and could use this meaningless game to rest some players. But the Lions have no rushing game with Harris and will once again be left with Kitna throwing into coverage too often. Kitna should manage decent yardage here and possibly two scores but his turnovers will prove, once again, far too costly.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 9 23 15 21 10 25
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 5 7 10 2 2 14