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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: DEN 20, CHI 17

Update: Welcome to the old school Broncos. Travis Henry hasn't been suspended yet but he hasn't been in practice this week either. Count him out. Selvin Young has missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of his knee and may not play this week. If he does not, then the Broncos will most likely use both Mike Bell and Andre Hall, if not a splash of newly signed fullback Kyle Johnson. I am changing the projections but relying on any DEN runner this week will be a risky proposition. Check pregame inactives if you want to use a DEN back this week but it could be messy. If the backfield has any problems, the Broncos may just resort to a pass heavy attack anyway.

Javon Walker is back to full practices and is expected to finally play this week.

Bernard Berrian was held out of practice to rest his toe on Wednesday but is expected to play. It is a lingering issue and this is nothing new.

This is a messy game since both teams have shown moments of brilliance and complete folly. Denver comes off a big win over the Titans but were crushed on the road by the Lions. The Bears just couldn't keep up with the Seahawks last week and they lost to the Lions by a far smaller margin. But - the Broncos have the look of starting to step up now while the Bears are still struggling and are only 1-3 at home this year.

Denver Broncos (5-5)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BUF 15-14 -3.5 37
2 OAK 23-20 -10 37.5
3 JAC 14-23 -3 35.5
4 @IND 20-38 +10 46.5
5 SD 3-41 +1 43
6 BYE - - -
7 PIT 31-28 +3.5 38.5
8 GB 13-19 -3 44
9 @DET 7-44 +3 45.5
10 @KC 27-11 +3 37.5
11 TEN 34-20 -2.5 38
12 @CHI   +2.5 41
13 @OAK 2-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
14 KC 9-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
15 @HOU 13-Dec THU 8:15 PM
16 @SD 24-Dec MON 8:00 PM
17 MIN 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
DEN at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     240,1
RB Selvin Young 80,1 20
RB Andre Hall 40 10  
RB Mike Bell 40 10  
TE Tony Scheffler   40  
WR Javon Walker   60  
WR Brandon Stokley   30  
WR Brandon Marshall   70,1  
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Two nice wins almost erases that blowout loss in Detroit and dropping a game to the Packers. There is a chance that Javon Walker plays this week and Jay Cutler is improving on using his other receivers - that's great for when Walker returns and does not have to be the target on every pass play. The running game remains a mess with looming suspensions and injuries but regardless of which back gets stuck in the backfield for Denver, he's usually good enough. Denver is tied with the Chargers for the AFC West lead (yeah, go figure) and they hold their destiny in their own hands with a meeting left to play against each divisional foe. But San Diego will be a road game - that won't make it easy.

Quarterback: Jay Cutler may have never looked so good as he did on Monday when he completed 16 of 22 for 200 yards and two touchdowns - with no turnovers. He was deadly effective on rollouts and looked sharp without Javon Walker who has been out since week three. Recall in those two first games, Walker turned in over 100 yards against the Bills and Raiders so his return this week should only make Cutler even better.

Running Backs: The decision of Travis Henry has not been made as of this writing rather late on Tuesday night but it could come on Wednesday and if he is not suspended and appears likely to play this week, I will update on Friday. Selvin Young suffered a sprained knee on Monday but the team expects him to play without limitation this weekend. Young almost has to play if Henry is suspended since Andre Hall may have looked great on his one run, but he is not nearly the pass blocker that Young is.

I will assume a healthy Young and update as needed. If Henry is not suspended and Young is limited in practice, choosing your Denver back this week could be a headache and almost certainly will in future weeks if Henry stays on the team.

Wide Receivers: Javon Walker has been clearer for full practices and barring a setback, it is likely he will play this week. He could be rusty from his lengthy layoff but that did not bother either D.J. Hackett or Andre Johnson recently. It is optimistic to assume he will pick right back up with 100 yard games, but it could happen.

Walker's return sends Brandon Stokley back to the slot but he's been a decent replacement in the interim and should remain involved. Brandon Marshall has been the primary receiver and rather productive each week, so it remains to be seen if Walker's return will detract from Marshall or just add more power to the passing game.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler has been on a nice six game streak with over 30 yards each week and two scores overall. Daniel Graham also figures in for around 20 yards each week.

Match Against the Defense: Stopping the run has been the biggest problem for the Bears this year and should spell some success for Young this week. Unless the backfield is messed up with Henry, figure on decent yardage and a score from Young this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 14 18 14 13 20 18
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 9 29 16 16 22 30


Chicago Bears (4-6)
Homefield: Soldier Field
  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 27-37 -2.5 46
5 @GB 27-20 +3 41
6 MIN 31-34 -5 35.5
7 @PHI 19-16 +4.5 40.5
8 DET 7-16 -5 44
9 BYE - - -
10 @OAK 17-6 -3 38.5
11 @SEA 23-30 +5.5 37.5
12 DEN   -2.5 41
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 vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman     210,1
RB Cedric Benson 90,1 20  
TE Greg Olsen   60,1  
WR Bernard Berrian   50  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   40  
WR Devin Hester   20  
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Bears fans are growing restless with three consecutive home losses and an offense that has declined as the year grows old. The Bears aren't naming a starting quarterback yet and apparently are not even sure what to do with Cedric Benson since his best game of the year had the least amount of carries in it. If the Bears can get the offense on track, they can save their season with four home games in the remaining six weeks but each game will be a big challenge - and one that the Bears haven't appeared capable to step up to.

Quarterback: HC Lovie Smith has not named a starting quarterback yet but in most likelihood it will remain Rex Grossman who was good enough in the win over the Raiders and played reasonably well in the loss to Seattle with 24 of 37 passes going for 266 yards and no interceptions (or scores for that matter). Grossman still has not matched the sort of passing numbers that Griese was producing and Grossman is more often sacked - 16 times in his five games played.

Running Backs: Cedric Benson had the hot start last week with a 43-yard touchdown run on the first touch of the game and 20 yards on his second. He only had 26 yards on the nine successive carries but therein lies the surprise - it was the best he had played all year and the Bears limited him to 11 carries for a season low. They did give Adrian Peterson five totes so he could gain 11 yards but the media was all over Lovie Smith about his decision making last week. It's like buying for a Porsche that never runs and once it finally starts to go, you opt for the Ford Aerostar van instead. The lack of a dominant rushing game has been one of the critical failures this year.

Perhaps Benson would have struggled the rest of the game, but isn't it worth seeing?

Wide Receivers: The most impressive aspect of Grossman's return for two weeks is that he picked back up with his affection for hitting Bernard Berrian deep and he also made good use of Muhsin Muhammad who would normally disappear when Grossman was around. Berrian had games of 89 and 102 yards with Grossman while even Muhammad turned in 87 and 71 yards. If Grossman wants to stay around and give the Bears a good chance to win, he must continue to use both.

Tight Ends: While Grossman's first game back two weeks ago had Greg Olsen ignored with no catches, he noticed the rookie last week when he connected for seven catches for 43 yards. Olsen's role is already significant in the offense and should only grow.

Match Against the Defense: The return of John Lynch last week seemed to spark the Denver rushing defense that had been abused in previous weeks and this week is as good as it will get for Benson until week 17 when the Saints show up. Since Lovie Smith was so criticized for limiting Benson last week. I like the chance here that he has a decent game and scores once.

Grossman faces a secondary that has been victimized by quarterbacks far better than he but this week he should still manage to score at least once which should favor Greg Olsen the most against the #30 defenses against tight ends. Of course, he will try several downfield strikes to Berrian as well but the corners of Denver should see this coming. Champ Bailey can handle Muhammad and Dre Bly will be watching for Berrian on the post pattern.

Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 18 27 21 8 15 7
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 24 19 13 30 21 28

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
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