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

Prediction: MIN 23, DEN 17

The Vikings can clinch the final wildcard in the NFC with a win here and a loss by the Redskins to the Cowboys who will be resting players and won't really care what happens. Not a favorable equation and last week served notice to the Vikings that their late season spark could be extinguished a bit easier than they wanted to believe. The Broncos are coming off their second embarrassing loss to the Chargers that secured a losing season. The Vikings are only 3-4 on the road but have something to win this week and the Dallas-Washington game happens at the same time. Denver is 4-3 at home and just playing for pride at the end of a bad season.

Minnesota Vikings (8-7)
Homefield: Metrodome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ATL 24-3 -3 36
2 @DET 17-20 +3 42.5
3 @KC 10-13 +3 33.5
4 GB 16-23 +1 38
5 BYE - - -
6 @CHI 34-31 +5 35.5
7 @DAL 14-24 +9.5 46
8 PHI 16-23 +1 37.5
9 SD 35-17 +7 41
10 @GB 0-34 +6.5 40.5
11 OAK 29-22 -5.5 35.5
12 @NYG 41-17 +7 41
13 DET 42-10 -3.5 44.5
14 @SF 27-7 -7.5 39
15 CHI 20-13 -9.5 43.5
16 WAS 21-32 -7 40
17 @DEN   -3 41.5
MIN at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tarvaris Jackson 40,1   160
RB Chester Taylor 60 20  
RB Adrian Peterson 100,1 20  
TE Visanthe Shiancoe   10  
WR Troy Williamson   30  
WR Bobby Wade   40  
WR Robert Ferguson   30  
PK Ryan Longwell 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: After starting out 2-5 on the season, the Vikings have rolled on for 6-2 in the last eight weeks and had made a case for them in the playoffs until last week when the Redskins shut down every aspect of the Vikings offense and even managed to run against them. This team plays very well when Peterson and Taylor are wildly successful rushing and the defense just has to defend the pass. That could happen this week but even if it does - it won't likely be enough to make the playoffs after losing last week. To the Vikings detriment, the winning streak will make them feel too god about Tarvaris Jackson as the quarterback to make a change in the offseason even though the passing attack is the one missing element on this team.

Quarterback: HC Brad Childress has stood firmly behind Tarvaris Jackson as the starting quarterback despite the fact that Jackson only has seven passing touchdowns on the year and only three times managed to throw for more than 200 yards. His best game has only been 249 yards (with no scores) and he only once had more than one touchdown in a game (just two versus the Lions). Jackson adds mobility and runs around six times per game. He has three rushing scores this year and two just last week but as a passer, he has never shown the ability to lead this team back from a deficit. He's the limiting factor in the offense and gives the defense absolutely no reason not to stack the line against the run.

Running Backs: Devastating attack here when it works and no team has been as good at rushing the ball as the combo of Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson. But great efforts are mixed with mind-blowing bad games like when Peterson ran for only three yards in San Francisco or even just 27 yards last week against the Skins. Peterson i ranks #3 in the league with 1305 yards and would be playing for the lead this week since Parker is gone and Tomlinson may not play the entire game. But he trails Tomlinson by 113 yards and that will be hard to make up since Tomlinson too wants the rushing title and will play at least enough to secure it.

Wide Receivers: The Vikings wideouts only scored seven touchdowns this season and none of them gained more than the 83 yards that Bobby Wade had back in week four. Sidney Rice has been the most talented of the bunch with four scores but the rookie missed last week with a sprained ankle and he only has 31 catches for 396 yards. Wade leads the group with only 49 catches for 555 yards and only scored one touchdown this year. This unit has no reliable fantasy value though Rice will be interesting in future years if the Vikes ever get a quarterback who can pass for more than 200 yards with any regularity.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value from Vishante Shiancoe who has only one score on the year and rarely has more than one or two catches in a game.

Match Against the Defense: The Broncos defense has been a disappointment this year but they have improved against the run as the season progressed. Playing in Denver, they have only given up two rushing scores to running backs this year and played the run very well against KC and TEN in the most recent games. But the Vikes are bringing the #1 rush attack and the weather may be cold but shouldn't be bad otherwise. Look for a good effort here by the Vikes running attack in a game they have to win.

Jackson goes against a secondary that has been very good against wideouts thanks to the cornerbacks of Bly and Bailey and that will be plenty good enough to shut down one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL. No reason here to expect any improvement from Jackson and company.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 31 1 27 30 22 1
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 29 21 6 32 23 27


Denver Broncos (6-9)
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 34-37 +2.5 41
13 @OAK 20-34 -3 41.5
14 KC 41-7 -6.5 37.5
15 @HOU 31-13 +1.5 47
16 @SD 3-23 +8.5 47
17 MIN   +3 41.5
DEN vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     260,1
RB Travis Henry 30,1 10  
RB Selvin Young 50 20  
TE Tony Scheffler   50  
WR Javon Walker   30  
WR Glenn Martinez   40  
WR Brandon Marshall   90,1  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The wildly inconsistent Broncos wrap up their season trying to erase the second painful loss to the Chargers. Like so often this year, the Broncos just did not have the ability to score inside the 20-yard line and while the yardage has been nice for fantasy purposes, the inability to score against decent defenses has been their undoing. Jay Cutler has shown flashes this year but enough dull moments to call into question just how good he will one day be. Travis Henry started the year well but now is just part of a tandem and not even the better part. Javon Walker has been largely a bust. And worst yet, the defense that was expected to be the strength of the team has allowed 28+ points five times this year. The Broncos have won their last two home games but the question each week is which Denver team will show up?

Quarterback: The second season for Jay Cutler started with promise when he passed for 304 yards in the season opener. By now, he is ending with only 3251 passing yards and 18 touchdowns with 14 interceptions and has been at his worst when the Broncos needed him most. The loss of Walker early on left him with little more than Brandon Marshall as a wideout and he did make some progress with Tony Scheffler, but Cutler still has a couple of steps up before he can start to satisfy his expectations. When Cutler is playing well, he looks like a top ten quarterback. Problem is he usually looks like just another average player who cannot get the touchdowns when the field gets short.

Running Backs: The Broncos once feared rushing game has managed a few games with big results, but overall this has been a bitterly disappointing year that brought in Travis Henry who has never gained more than 65 rushing yards since back in week four. He only has four touchdowns on the season and last week in San Diego when the Broncos needed a short yardage touchdown, they let Cecil Sapp take it on third and fourth downs at the goal line (and he failed anyway).

Selvin Young has been a nice surprise as an undrafted rookie and he has two games over 100 yards but now the Broncos are splitting carries with he and Henry and Young only has around 35 rushing yards in each of the last two games. Young only scored once this year. The Denver backfield is back to being the muddled mess so detested by the fantasy world except this time it's just not all that productive anyway.

Wide Receivers: The season started with Javon Walker turning in two games over 100 yards but then he was injured and recently showed up again to do nothing. Walker only had a total of four catches for 34 yards over the last two games. Brandon Marshall has been the star of this offense with 92 catches for 1211 yards and six scores. He's been good enough that the Broncos will have to make a decision on the oft-injured Walker in the offseason because his cost has been far greater than the return. Brandon Stokley has been marginally effective as the slot receiver but never stepped up when Walker was out. Stokley does have five scores on the year but hasn't played since week 14. Marshall has been so dominant in this crew that some games become little more than Cutler searching for Marshall on every passing play.

Tight Ends: Another highlight of the season was the play of Tony Scheffler who missed the first three games because of a broken foot last June but he came on well to stand at 497 yards and four scores on the season now. He has a nice chemistry with Cutler who needs another outlet besides Marshall.

Match Against the Defense: The Vikings have one of the best rush defenses in the league and the Broncos are splitting carries with Young and Henry and even Sapp now. There is a chance of one rushing score but the yardage is certain to be less this week and the score could go anywhere since the Broncos want to include Sapp again.

Cutler will have to make the difference this week but the Vikings secondary has only twice allowed more than one passing score in a road game though the yardage typically is higher than usual. Marshall and Scheffler should have at least decent yardage here and a chance at a big game. There should be at least one passing score that favors Marshall the most. Cutler cannot afford to have more problems with punching in a score here if Denver expects to win.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 14 15 15 9 12 18
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 25 2 27 20 17 10

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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