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

Prediction: NO 17, CHI 27

Update: Aaron Stecker both Reggie Bush and Aaron Stecker have been held out of practice this week and it appears unlikely that Bush will get any playing time. Stecker too is a concern with a sore foot and he will not be practicing on Friday but has not been excluded from playing yet. I am reducing Stecker's numbers and adding in Pierre Thomas but be aware that Stecker may not play.

The Saints can clinch a wildcard if they win in Chicago AND both the Redskins and Vikings lose, so yeah, the Saints are going to be home in January and starting to make Mardi Gras plans. The Saints are 4-3 on the road this year while the Bears are 3-5 at home. The Bears can clinch a playoff spot if they can devise a time machine and set it to 2006 which is pretty much what all their fans will be trying to accomplish in January. Still there is pride on the line for both franchises and neither have made it through the season without notable injury losses.

This is a replay of the 2006 NFC Championship game when the Bears won 39-14.

New Orleans Saints (7-8)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @IND 10-41 +6 51.5
2 @TB 14-31 -3.5 41.5
3 TEN 14-31 -4 45
4 BYE - - -
5 CAR 13-16 -4 43
6 @SEA 28-17 +6 43
7 ATL 22-16 -9 43
8 @SF 31-10 -2.5 40
9 JAC 41-24 -3.5 40
10 STL 29-37 -12 46
11 @HOU 10-23 -1 47
12 @CAR 31-6 -3 41
13 TB 23-27 -3 42
14 @ATL 34-14 -4.5 42.5
15 ARI 31-24 -3.5 49
16 PHI 23-38 -3 46
17 @CHI   -2 37.5
NOR at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     240,1
RB Aaron Stecker 30 10  
RB Pierre Thomas 40,1 10  
TE Billy Miller   20  
WR Marques Colston   60,1  
WR Devery Henderson   30  
WR David Patten   40  
PK Martin Gramatica 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Saints were the biggest surprise of 2006 so the expectations coming into 2007 were bound to be too high. But after starting out 0-4, the Saints went 7-4 and rediscovered their offense. The loss of McAllister and later Bush were a disaster to the balance of the offense and how defenses could prepare for them. The defense remained bad enough that good fantasy points from both sides were assured in most contests. The loss to the Eagles last week all but doomed the playoff hopes of the Saints and playing on the road in Chicago is about as cruel a way to end the season as could be for a dome team since there is a chance for snow.

Quarterback: While it has been a most trying season, Drew Brees has 4108 passing yards to rank #3 in the league and is only 17 yards shy of Romo who he should pass this week since the Cowboys are likely to rest players. Brees was #1 in passing yards last year (4418) and should end up #2 unless Favre has a big game. Brees already has 25 scores this season as he did in 2006 but only passed for one touchdown in the first four weeks. He then went on a scoring spree that ended last week against the Eagles. His four games over 300 yards were short of 2006, but Brees adjusted to the new season and played as a top fantasy quarterback for most of the year.

Brees passed for 354 yards and two scores in Chicago last year.

Running Backs: The loss of McAllister dealt a blow to the offense that no longer had the everydown/short yardage runner and while Reggie Bush tried his best to fill all roles, he still ended up showing he is best suited as part of a tandem backfield. Aaron Stecker has been surprisingly productive as of late with two scores in each of the last two games (both at home) but this week out in the elements will be a much different challenge for him. The last four games have all been inside a dome.

Stecker sprained his left big toe in the second quarter, but was able to play in the second half and should be okay to play this week.

The Saints combined both Bush and McAllister for only 37 rushing yards on ten carries last year in Chicago. But Reggie Bush had seven catches for 132 yards and one score.

Wide Receivers: Marques Colston is winding down his second season and currently has a very respectable 1108 yards on 90 catches with nine scores and most of that all happened from week eight week until now. In his first six games, Colston was struggling along with the rest of the offense but did catch fire and turn in over 85 yards in seven of his last nine games. Devery Henderson started the year as the flanker but now is just a part of a rotation there that favors David Patten more. Lance Moore has been a contributor every week with at least one catch but rarely any fantasy value. The biggest disappointment this year has clearly been burning a first round pick on Robert Meacham who never had a catch this year.

Colston caught five passes for 63 yards and a score in Chicago last January.

Tight Ends: This position never amounted to much this season with only four scores split between Billy Miller and Eric Johnson. Both players figured into each week though Johnson would typically do a little more. In the final five weeks, the tight ends were even less figured into the game plan and rarely accounted for even 20 yards for either player. Johnson was inactive for Sunday's game with the Eagles because of a groin injury so Miller will likely take the start again this week.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears rushing defense has been the weak spot and even in the blowout over the Packers last week, Ryan Grant had a good game. But the Saints are down to Stecker with a sore toe, so expect just moderate yardage here with a chance for one touchdown since the Bears have allowed at least one rushing score to each of the last six visitors to Chicago. This is a much different Bears defense than the one that shut down the Saints last year.

Brees will need to be the difference maker here but he'll be outside in weather rather unlike the dome in New Orleans. Playing in Chicago, the defense has only allowed seven passing scores this year so look for only moderate yardage and just one passing touchdown this week. This too is a different Saints offense than the one that was shut down in Chicago last year.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 5 13 7 14 31 19
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 10 30 14 23 18 26


Chicago Bears (6-9)
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 37-34 -2.5 41
13 NYG 16-21 +1.5 43
14 @WAS 16-24 +3 37.5
15 @MIN 13-20 +9.5 43.5
16 GB 35-7 +-8 40
17 NO   +2 37.5
CHI vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     190,1
RB Adrian Peterson 80,1 40  
TE Greg Olsen   20  
WR Bernard Berrian   60,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   30  
WR Devin Hester   40  
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: It has been a bitterly disappointing season for the Bears who left the Super Bowl last year to turn in a losing season with a constantly changing situation on the offense with quarterbacks and running backs with none of them "getting the job done". What was once one of the most dominating defenses for the last several seasons fell on hard times thanks to injuries and an offense that could not move the ball consistently much less control the clock. But if nothing else, and maybe it is nothing else, the Bears swept the Packers and denied them the #1 seed in the NFC. It's something.

Quarterback: Rex Grossman, Brian Griese and Kyle Orton. And apparently, "D.) None of the above". The Bears have gone through the roster looking for a spark and settled on using Orton in these final games for a chance to see if just cutting the lot of them is in store in the offseason. Griese was the most effective of the bunch but Orton is closing out the season as he did in 2005. Maybe they think that is good luck for next year.

Running Backs: Adrian Peterson comes off the single best rushing game of the season when he ran for 102 yards on 30 carries and even scored once last week against the Packers. Just like Cedric Benson, he's been good for around three yards per carry and the offense rarely gets the 30+ needed to notch a 100 yard game. There's been no word yet that Benson will not start next year but this rushing game never rose above mediocre in any game this year. Problems with the offensive line were no help but the runners themselves never did much more than lean forward when met at the line.

Wide Receivers: Surprisingly, Bernard Berrian is only 80 yards short of a 1000 yard season but he's been a disappointment with only four touchdowns this year. And he's only had 23 yards at most in a game with Orton as the starter. Devin Hester got his shot at being a receiver and aside from an 81-yard touchdown against the Vikings in week six, he's little more than a one catch per game player with minimal impact. Muhsin Muhammad has declined until finally last week he had no catches. This unit is controlled by a quarterback slot that has never been filled with a productive and consistent player.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark flourished when Brian Griese was the starter while Grossman had the rookie Greg Olsen looking sharp. Now Orton rarely uses either. For 2008, Olsen has promise of becoming a very good receiving tight end and was turning in around 50 yards per game until midseason.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears won last week in bad weather but it wasn't about a great rushing or passing effort and it will not be this week as well though the Saints certainly bring in one of the worst secondaries in the league. Expect a decent game here by Peterson who should have a decent volume of carries and a chance of one touchdown.

Orton can score against the Saints because every opponent does. And usually two or three times. That would be high side for Orton to be sure but at least one score to Berrian should be in the works this week. Much depends on the weather and game situation. I like the chance for a defensive score in this game as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 18 28 21 8 7 6
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 30 5 32 26 21 6

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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