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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 9
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
BUF, CLE
Monday
NYJ, OAK
STL, MIN
* updated

Prediction: ARI 23, CHI 20

Late Update: Hester returned for limited work on Friday and is expected to be active but won't be completely healthy so I am lowering his projections. Anquan Boldin returned to practice on Friday at least for limited work and was reported to look very good. He is now expected to play so I have added him back into the projections.

Early Update: Devin Hester has not practiced because of his ankle but has not been ruled out from what would be a nice matchup. I will update him after Friday's practice if warranted. Greg Olsen has been limited but is expected to play. Anquan Boldin has not practiced because of his re-aggravated ankle sprain and at best will be a game time decision and will not be in the projections. Steve Breaston has been limited this week but will play and take the start in the likely event that Boldin cannot play.

The Cardinals come off a surprise loss to the visiting Panthers and at 4-3 only have a one game lead over the 49ers but are oddly 3-0 in road games this season. The Bears win over the visiting Browns raised their record to 4-3 as well and are now two and a half games behind the Vikings in the NFC North. The Bears are also 3-0 at home.

Arizona Cardinals (4-3)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SF 16-20 -6 46
2 @JAC 31-17 +3 43
3 IND 10-31 -2.5 48
4 BYE - - -
5 HOU 28-21 -5.5 48
6 @SEA 27-3 +3 47
7 @NYG 24-17 +9 46.5
8 CAR 21-34 -10 43.5
9 @CHI - +3 44.5
10 SEA - - -
11 @STL - - -
12 @TEN - - -
13 MIN - - -
14 @SF - - -
15 @DET - - -
16 STL - - -
17 GB - - -
ARI at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     260,2
RB Chris Wells 30    
RB Tim Hightower 40 30  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   90,1  
WR Anquan Boldin   50  
WR Steve Breaston   50,1  
PK Neil Rackers 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Perhaps it is that the Cardinals just relax too much when at home and have lost three of four games played there but on the road they have also not faced a tough matchup other than the Giants who are themselves oddly struggling in recent weeks. The Cardinals have an easy schedule left to play and this week may be the toughest game other than the critical tilt in San Francisco that will likely decide the division winner. But even struggling, the Cardinals remain probably no worse than a wild card bid because of their schedule.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner comes off an uncharacteristic game that featured five interceptions since he only had six picks over the first six games. He wound up with 242 yards and two scores but much of that came in the second half after the game was already well in hard for the Panthers. But Warner has thrown for at least one score every week and has never passed for less than 230 yards. On the road he has never had more than 276 passing yards.

The Bears have allowed at least one passing score to all but Cleveland and Carson Palmer pasted them with five scores. But this game is in Chicago where they have only allowed one passing score per opponent so far. The safest assumption here is for the Cardinals to pass for mid-200's and one score but two is certainly possible since this is the best passing attack to visit the Bears so far.

Running Backs: Once again, Beanie Wells ran better than Tim Hightower by gaining 47 yards on eight carries versus the 39 yards that he had on his eight runs. And once again, Hightower scored the rushing touchdown which gives him five in the last six weeks, And he had eight catches for 57 yards for his best game as a receiver since the season opener. Wells only had one pass thrown to him and it was incomplete.

The Bears have been much tougher against the run in Chicago where no opposing runner has gained more than 59 yards there and only Kevin Smith has scored. The workload gets divided up here but Hightower's role as a receiver has not been much when he leaves Arizona so far this year.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin aggravated his sprained ankle and could not finish the game last week. He, of course, vows to play this week though he was already playing with a bad ankle which likely led to the re-injury. Boldin is never one to rest even if it is in his best interest. But barring more positive reports, I will consider that Boldin will rest this week and update as needed.

Larry Fitzgerald has dropped a bit in the recent weeks without a score or more than 83 yards but still remains at least solid each week. Of the seven touchdowns thrown to the wideouts, Fitzgerald caught five of them. An absence of Boldin will see an increase in workload for Steve Breaston who would replace him and has been very productive in the past as the #2 receiver. Breaston only has one score this year but was turning in around 70 or so yards per week until the last couple of games.

This should be a decent game for Fitzgerald since the #1 wideout of each opponent typically had 100+ yards and often a touchdown. Breaston is another strong play and has a nearly equal chance for a score. Jerheme Urban will likely see playing time with Boldin out but he's not been productive enough to warrant adding into the projections.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 16 9 2 32 19 21
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 20 15 17 18 10 11


Chicago Bears (4-3)
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @GB 15-21 +4 46
2 PIT 17-14 +3 37.5
3 @SEA 25-19 -2 37
4 DET 48-24 -10.5 38.5
5 BYE - - -
6 @ATL 14-21 +3 45.5
7 @CIN 10-45 +1 42.5
8 CLE 30-6 +11.5 39.5
9 ARI - -3 44.5
10 @SF - - -
11 PHI - - -
12 @MIN - - -
13 STL - - -
14 GB - - -
15 @BAL - - -
16 MIN - - -
17 @DET - - -
CHI vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     240,1
RB Matt Forte 60 30  
TE Greg Olsen   40  
WR Devin Hester   50  
WR Earl Bennett   60  
WR Johnny Knox   50,1  
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Bears had a solid beatdown of the Browns last week and now is when the schedule takes a turn for the worse. The big win over the Browns temporarily made things right but there is still plenty on this team that needs fixing such as the offensive line and in conjunction the rushing game. The Bears may be favored only two or three more times this year and this week will be a good measurement on whether the Bears can maintain a winning record against better quality teams.

I like a defensive score in this game.

Quarterback: Jay Cutler was hit on the chin last week and was swallowing blood for much of the game. The offensive line allowed four sacks and many more hits which bodes poorly for Cutler when he faces much better defenses soon. He had his six-game streak with a passing score broken but only because Matt Forte actually was able to score last week. Cutler has only one game with 300 yards and typically hangs out around 250 per week.

The Cardinals come in with a secondary that was one of the worst and yet has played better lately. All but Seattle was able to throw for at least one passing score though none have thrown for two or more in the last three games. Look for Cutler to have an average showing here since Forte should be able to have some better success rushing.

Running Backs: Matt Forte enjoyed a big showing against the Browns when he scored two touchdowns and ran for 90 yards. But even that required 26 carries and averaged only 3.5 yards per rush. And he only tacked on two catches for 31 yards. That means Forte has scored in just two games this season - home games against the Lions and Browns. And he still has just the one effort that exceeded 100 rush yards thanks to the Lions.

The Cardinals rushing defense has been generally good though they allowed huge yardage and two scores to the Panthers last week. There is a chance that Forte could score but it is not in his normal production. Anything more than moderate total yardage and no score for Forte is an aberration.

Wide Receivers: The Bears wideouts have settled down into a fairly reliable pattern. Devin Hester is the true #1 wideout and remains above 70 yards in most games. These most recent weeks that has seen everyone else take a downturn has also witnessed Hester keep his value strong with no less than 83 yards and six catches in each of the last three games. Earl Bennett is just a possession guy who never scores but who usually gets a few more catches in tougher games. Johnny Knox has really turned into a true slot receiver which means he rarely scores and hasn't had more than 45 yards in the last five games.

The Cardinals were weak against the wide receivers but mostly thanks to facing the Colts and Texans. Most opponents have not done that much against the Cards and the Bears are not showing up with big receiver numbers lately anyway. Hester should at least have a decent showing here but the others are too risky to rely on.

Tight Ends: Greg Olsen had a mini-streak of three games with a score but he has been lucky to get as many as 40 yards in a game and most of his success has been against the weaker opponents. The Cardinals are really only average against tight ends so look for an average showing by Olsen.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 15 287 13 9 14 9
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 17 9 25 17 12 24

The Huddle
WEEK 9
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
BUF, CLE
Monday
NYJ, OAK
STL, MIN
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
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