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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 4
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday night
Monday
On Bye
JAX, NO
*updates
TEN, WAS

Prediction: CHI 17, DET 23

The Bears were reminded that last year's performances do not guarantee future results - just like your broker says. The Cowboys came into Chicago and throttled the Bears last week thanks in part to defensive injuries and the fact the Bears offense has never shown up this year. The Lions were 2-0 heading into Philly last week but were soundly thumped by the Eagles who for at least one game looked as good as ever (and the Lions looked a bad as before). Played in Detroit this week will help the Lions but this game rides on two of the most unreliable parts of the NFL - the Chicago offense and the Detroit defense.

The Bears swept the Lions in 2006, winning 34-7 at home and then 26-21 on the road.

Update: Calvin Johnson injured his back last Sunday and has been held out of practice for the last two days but HC ROd Marinelli said that he expected that Johnson could play against the Bears this week. Playing at home against an injury-depleted Chicago secondary would be a surprisingly good match-up here in Detroit against a divisional rival. I am adding Johnson back into the projections now though he obviously carries a risk and could even just serve as a decoy that the Bears would have to account for. If he can practice on Friday even on a limited basis it would help reduce the risk he carries this week. Once again, check the Sunday morning inactives and realize that even if he plays he could be very limited.

Chicago Bears (1-2)
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SD 3-14 +5.5 42.5
2 KC 20-10 -12 34.5
3 DAL 10-34 -3 41
4 @DET   -3 39
5 @GB 7-Oct SUN 8:15 PM
6 MIN 14-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
7 @PHI 21-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
8 DET 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 BYE - - -
10 @OAK 11-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
11 @SEA 18-Nov SUN 8:15 PM
12 DEN 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 NYG 2-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
14 @WAS 6-Dec THU 8:15 PM
15 @MIN 17-Dec MON 8:30 PM
16 GB 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 NO 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
CHI at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese     230,1
RB Cedric Benson 60,1    
RB Adrian Peterson 20 30  
TE Desmond Clark   40  
TE Greg Olsen   20  
WR Bernard Berrian   80,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   40  
WR Rashied Davis   20  
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Like it or not, Rex Grossman's continued slide is making even HC Lovie "But I Love This Guy" Smith start to rethink his starting quarterback. The defense has taken injury hits that affect the strength of this team and the offense just hasn't been able to get into gear in any game this year. At best Benson looks average and Grossman's passing is hardly moving the defense away from the line of scrimmage.

Quarterback: Lovie Smith finally cracked when he said he would name a starting quarterback later in the week. Rex Grossman has only one score on the year against six interceptions. He has been sacked three times in each game and is averaging about 165 yards per game despite playing at home the last two weeks and trailing in games twice. The call for Brian Griese is getting louder all the time if only because he is not Grossman. Smith finally announced on Tuesday that Griese gets the start here. That's almost exactly two years since his last start.

Grossman threw for 289 yards and four scores against the visiting Lions in week two of last year but in week 16 only managed 197 yards and one touchdown in Detroit.

Running Backs: Though Cedric Benson had a decent 101 yard game against the visiting Chiefs in week two, he was held to only 46 yards on 16 carries against the Cowboys and did not play in the fourth quarter after losing a fumble. Adrian Peterson continues to be the back in passing situations and Benson rides the pine when the Bears fall behind. Benson has one score on the year which came on Sunday but facing constant eight man fronts with an offensive line that has declined and a passing game that has never appeared means

Benson's not enjoying nearly as good of game situations that the Bears had in 2006. He's also not showing nearly enough in lateral moves and open field running that poor blocking needs as compensation. He's a north-south banger but the border is closed at the line of scrimmage.

Benson shared the backfield with Thomas Jones last year and in the game at Detroit, the duo combined for 111 rushing yards but no score with Benson gaining 49 yards on 15 carries.

Wide Receivers: Other than Bernard Berrian turning in around 70 yards per game, you can stick a fork in this unit. Muhsin Muhammad has yet to collect more than two passes or gain over 21 yards and yet he is still the second most productive wideout on the team so far. A change in quarterback may not help this group but it could hardly hurt it. After three games played, the only Bears player with a touchdown catch is an offensive tackle.

Bernard Berrian scored in each of the meetings with the Lions in 2006 and had games of 89 and 43 yards. He was the only wideout to score and Muhammad turned in games of 59 and 64 yards.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark gained a heady 58 yards against Dallas on Sunday though it mostly came on one long pass. The only notable here is that the rookie Greg Olsen finally played and had two catches for 28 yards including a near touchdown. Those count in Chicago... they have to...

The Bears liked to use their tight ends against the Lions last season. Desmond Clark had a score and 85 yards in the home game but then only 36 yards in Detroit. John Gilmore had two scores in the home meeting but virtually no yardage.

Match Against the Defense: Before being victimized by Brian Westbrook last week, who incidentally is the anti-Benson, the Lions had held runners to 70 or less rushing yards. There is a good chance that Benson could score a rushing touchdown here though and he should have moderate rushing yardage.

Assuming Grossman plays, this match-up may not prove as tasty as it would seem. The Lions at home are better and they were victimized by just one wideout last week anyway. The Vikings only threw for 192 yards and no scores against the Lions in Detroit in week two. Look for one passing score here but no more - there has hardly been any reason to expect Grossman to come to life if he can even hold on to this job. It would not be a shock either for Grossman to start the game and then get yanked if he continues to play like Rex Grossman. Not a safe fantasy start and only Bernard Berrian seems likely to have decent numbers here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 30 28 30 15 27 11
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 30 32 24 1 7 32

 

Detroit Lions (2-1)
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 36-21 +1 39
2 MIN 20-17 -3 42.5
3 @PHI 21-56 +6.5 44.5
4 CHI   +3 39
5 @WAS 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 BYE - - -
7 TB 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 @CHI 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 DEN 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 @ARI 11-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
11 NYG 18-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
12 GB 22-Nov THU 12:30 PM
13 @MIN 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 DAL 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 @SD 16-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
16 KC 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 @GB 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
DET vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna     280,2
RB Kevin Jones 40 10  
RB Tatum Bell 40 20  
TE Sean McHugh   20  
WR Calvin Johnson   40  
WR Roy Williams   90,1  
WR Mike Furrey   40  
WR Shaun McDonald   60,1  
PK Jason Hanson 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: After opening with two wins, the Lions were served notice that they are not "there" quite yet when the Eagles smote them this week 56-21. The Lions inability to cover Kevin Curtis produced the biggest single game by a wideout this year and the elusive Brian Westbrook was a constant problem. Thankfully neither of those players is represented on the visiting Chicago Bears this week. Kevin Jones is coming back into the lineup and the passing game still looks formidable as long as they can stop Kitna from being sacked nine times as he was last week. The injury to Calvin Johnson could be a small problem but that only calls up Mike Furrey back into use.

Quarterback: Jon Kitna was sacked nine times and he threw two interceptions last week but he did have 446 passing yards and two scores giving him six touchdowns on the year. Kitna catches a break this week going against a battered Bears defense as well and with Kevin Jones coming back should mean a decent game this week.

Kitna threw for only 230 yards in Chicago last year but had three scores and 283 yards against them in the game played in Detroit.

Running Backs: The rushing game hasn't produced much this year and even the running backs haven't had more than four catches for 25 yards in a game this season but Kevin Jones returned briefly last week to score once and should see more time this week. It is still too early to consider him for a fantasy start but this week should see split duty between he and Tatum Bell. Neither are an attractive option even with the Bears defense banged up though the loss of Tommie Harris should really help the rushing game - if they bother to use it much.

Wide Receivers: Roy Williams only had four catches for 20 yards in week one but he scored once. And again in week two. And again in week three. He comes off a 204 yard effort against the Eagles last week and had 111 yards against the tough Vikings secondary as well. Shaun McDonald still has yet to turn in less than 70 yards in a game and he's scored twice this year.

Calvin Johnson finally did not score last week and only had 58 yards on two catches but was lost in the first half with a bruised back. His status this week is to be determined so for now I am not projecting him to play pending practice information later in the week. That means Mike Furrey may finally get more playing time after being stuck at five catches for around 50 yards per week. If Johnson cannot go, then Furrey could be an interesting pickup this week even if it only last for a game. The Lions will need to throw and McDonald and Williams already command attention.

Mike Furrey gained 107 yards and one score in the home game against the Bears last year while Roy Williams turned six catches into 79 yards and a touchdown.

Tight Ends: Sean McHugh actually catches a few balls per week but in comparison to the wideouts there is very little to expect from this position. The Lions just signed Courtney Anderson so McHugh may decline in the future.

Match Against the Defense: This should be interesting since the Bears could be without DT Dusty Dvoracek, S Mike Brown, CB Charles Tillman, DE Adewale Ogunleye, DT Tommie Harris, LB Lance Briggs and CB Nathan Vasher. A few may play less than 100% but injuries could clearly doom the Bears chances in this game if not for the season.

Look for only moderate rushing numbers from the Lions this week since they will never go heavy on the run and they will be split between Bell and Jones anyway. I like the chance for one rushing score there though.

Kitna faces a secondary that was ravaged by the Cowboys last week thanks in no small part to the injuries so look for a very solid game here at home. After last week, the Lions will want a good game this week and the Bears appear too banged up to stop them.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 1 27 1 26 12 8
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 15 24 5 31 6 31

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