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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week

Prediction: CHI 24, ATL 20

Update: Brandon Lloyd remains out as expected but Roddy White ran into Lawyer Milloy on Thursday and received at least a minor concussion though the team did not administer tests for a concussion. White was reported to have missed practice on Thursday and Friday. I am not going to change the projections for him but be aware he had this problem during the week and has at least minor risk going into this weekend. This game is 1 PM Sunday so if he ends up a surprise inactive you can make other plans but even White himself has said this is not a big deal and that he would play.

Who would have thought this game would feature either team with a winning record let alone both? The Bears have gone 2-1 on the road and are passing the ball like never before. The Falcons are one of the biggest surprises of the year with a complete makeover this season and yet they just won in Green Bay. This should be a fascinating game played on the Falcons home turf.

Chicago Bears (3-2)
Homefield: Soldier Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @IND 29-13 +9.5 44
2 @CAR 17-20 +3 37
3 TB 24-27 -3 35.5
4 PHI 24-20 +3 45
5 @DET 34-7 -3.5 44.5
6 @ATL - -2.5 43.5
7 MIN - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 DET - - -
10 TEN - - -
11 @GB - - -
12 @STL - - -
13 @MIN - - -
14 JAX - - -
15 NO - - -
16 GB - - -
17 @HOU - - -
CHI at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton 10   240,2
RB Matt Forte 80,1 40  
TE Greg Olsen   30,1  
WR Marty Booker   20  
WR Rashied Davis   80,1  
WR Devin Hester   50  
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Bears have won their last two games and now stand alone atop the NFC North with a 3-2 record (not exactly the most competitive division). The defense has remain stout this year and are only allowing around 17 points per game. The offense has really come to life in recent weeks with Kyle Orton showing up big. The Bears are quietly enjoying a very promising season.

Quarterback: For a team that has always asked the quarterback to just not make any mistakes and to manage the game, but lately Kyle Orton has forgotten that directive. After not passing for any scores in the first two weeks, he has racked up seven touchdowns over the last three games and never less than two scores per week while averaging about 265 passing yards. Granted - last week was against the Lions. But that also included home games against the Eagles and Buccaneers. Orton has been central in this success and not by just focusing on one player. He has spread the ball around and has made a big difference.

Running Backs: Matt Forte has been a nice surprise this year but has has grown less effective as the season progresses. Forte has rushed 107 times for 383 yards this season for a 3.6 yard average and he has been declining in rushing yardage every week since the season opener when he had 123 yards against the Colts (which is less astounding now). He comes off his works game of the year with only 36 yards on 15 carries in Detroit but scored both on a run and a pass to maintain good fantasy value. The previous week against the Eagles he only rushed for 43 yards on 19 carries and had 42 yards on five receptions.

The success of the passing game stems from the lack of success running the ball lately and Kevin Jones is there to share the workload a few carries per week. Forte is still a stellar draft pick this summer, but he's not been as successful recently. Long as he continues to score, he's still a sure fantasy starter every week.

Wide Receivers: It was against the Lions, but the Bears wideouts rose to the occasion last week when Brandon Lloyd was out nursing his sprained knee. I will assume that Lloyd misses again this week since he did not even practice before Sunday's game.

Rashied Davis had a team high six catches for 97 yards in Detroit while Devin Hester had a season best five catches for 66 yards and one score. He's still too risky to consider as a fantasy starter but has scored for the last two weeks. With Orton far exceeding expectations, it is hard to rely on any of these wideouts yet.

Tight Ends: The receiving numbers here remain too low to warrant a fantasy consideration but Greg Olsen comes off a three catch, 87 yard game and merits tracking. His previous high this year was only 36 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons rush defense has been only mediocre this year and five different runners have already scored against them. Look for a bounce back game here by Forte who should have a score and good yardage with receptions figured in.

Orton faces a secondary that has always allowed at least one passing score and usually two per game. The last two opponents both had around 300 passing yards against the Falcons. Look for a two score effort here by Orton with good yardage. Expect Olsen to have another score this week as well as Rashied Davis most likely. Lloyd would have been a lock here to get a touchdown since the #1 wideout has most often scored against the Falcons this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 13 11 21 12 15 6
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 24 17 27 29 3 3

Atlanta Falcons (3-2)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DET 34-21 +3 41
2 @TB 9-24 +8 38.5
3 KC 38-14 -5 36
4 @CAR 9-24 +7 39.5
5 @GB 27-24 +3 41
6 CHI - +2.5 43
7 BYE - - -
8 @PHI - - -
9 @OAK - - -
10 NO - - -
11 DEN - - -
12 CAR - - -
13 @SD - - -
14 @NO - - -
15 TB - - -
16 @MIN - - -
17 STL - - -
ATL vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 10   170,1
RB Michael Turner 90,1 10  
TE Ben Hartsock   10  
WR Michael Jenkins   30,1  
WR Roddy White GTD? 80  
WR Harry Douglas   20  
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: After a horrible 2007 season, the Falcons are really basking in the glow of a 3-2 record as one of the most surprising teams this year. Winning in Green Bay was impressive and the bye looms after this game so there's no look ahead. So far the rebuilding effort has met with resounding success even starting a rookie quarterback. The bottom line to games so far has been if the Falcons can score more than around 24 points. If they do, they win games and if they fail, they lose them.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan comes off a career best 194 yards and two scores in Green Bay on Sunday and he completed 16 of 26 in that game. He only has three interceptions on the season and is giving encouraging signs about the future in Atlanta. Back at home for the third time, he has scored in both previous home games but is still searching for his first 200+ passing yard game.

Running Backs: It was apparent that Michael Turner was only a decent runner when he was at home since all his scores and 100+ yard games came in Atlanta and on the road he had only averaged around 50 yards and no touchdowns. But in Green Bay, Turner ruined that trend by turning in 121 yards and a score last Sunday.

Back at home this week, he faces one of his toughest defenses to date. Against the Buccaneers earlier in the season, he only managed 42 yards on 14 carries but last week on the road to Green Bay, he took the next step up.

Wide Receivers: This is clearly Roddy White's team and despite being on the road and the only receiving threat for the Falcons, he had eight catches for 132 yards and a score in Green Bay. In the last three weeks, Ryan has completed 20 passes for 341 yards and two scores to White. Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas each have a minimal role but this attack is all about Roddy White.

Tight Ends: What Ryan has not done is make much use of the tight ends. Justin Peele just had a touchdown catch but has only 35 yards on for catches for the season. Ben Hartsock has slightly more use but neither have any fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears rushing defense has not allowed any runner to top 77 rushing yards this season but three different players have scored rushing touchdowns and Michael Turner doesn't share much. Expect a decent showing here by Turner who should score once and have moderate yardage. It's unlikely he would have a big game here since he will be the focus of the defense.

Ryan goes against the secondary that has limited quarterbacks far better than he but has really developed a connection with White and should manage moderate numbers here. I like one passing score here and by trend it certainly belongs to White but I will give it to Jenkins since flankers have scored twice against the Bears this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 26 2 19 29 5 22
Preventing Fantasy Points    CHI 10 9 21 12 13 16

The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
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