The Vikings and Bears will get together on Monday night in Chicago to close out Week 16 of NFL action and also close out their season series. In their earlier matchup at Mall of America Field, the Vikings pounded Chicago 36-10 behind a 392-yard, 3-TD performance from QB Brett Favre and dominant defensive performance that included 4.0 sacks and 2 INTs of Jay Cutler.
But past performances do not guarantee future results, so the Vikings have a crucial task at hand this weekend as they head to Soldier Field to face a division rival that, although out of playoff contention, would love nothing more than to play spoiler as the Vikings try to hold onto the NFC’s #2 seed.
All was well back in the Vikings Week 12 victory over Chicago, but since that day the Vikings have dropped 2 of their last 3 games and the losses have been ugly – a 30-17 thrashing in Arizona in Week 13 and then last Sunday night’s abysmal 26-7 loss. A win is what the doctor ordered to right the Vikings ship and head into the playoffs ascending rather than descending.
Wins have been hard to come by for the Vikings at Soldier Field of late. Chicago has defeated the Vikings in 7 of the last 8 meetings in the Windy City. In order for the Vikings to buck that trend, expect them to go back to the basics just as they did against the Cincinnati Bengals a couple weeks back. In that game, the Vikings totaled 37 rushes against 30 pass attempts, which led to 322 net yards of offense and a 30-10 pasting of one of the AFC’s best teams.
Another reason to expect the Vikings to run the ball quite a bit is because of Adrian Peterson’s history versus Chicago. In 5 career games against the Bears, Peterson has averaged 127.8 yards per contest and has scored 9 TDs. He’s been especially solid at Soldier Field, where he set a then-franchise single-game rushing record with 224 yards, tied a team record with 3 TDs and established a new team record with 361 combined yards during his rookie season.
On top of all that, the Bears currently rank 25th in the NFL at stopping the run, yielding 128.5 yards per game, and they’re without several key links on the defense – DE Adewale Ogunleye and LBs Brian Urlacher and Pisa Tinoisamoa.
But the Bears won’t go down gently. They’ve won more than they’ve lost at home and they have offensive pieces that play better at home than they do on the road – and when those offensive pieces play well, the Bears can be better than their opponent. QB Jay Cutler has been inconsistent this season but also has displayed the ability to win games and RB Matt Forte is a dual threat coming out of the backfield as both a runner and receiver.
In the end, though, this is a game the Vikings must have and it’s a game where they hold several key advantages, even beyond the prospects of running the ball against the Bears defense. Beyond that advantage, the Vikings will be facing a team that surrenders 23.0 points per game, can’t score in the red zone (42.9% TD rate – 29th) or stop their opponent from scoring in the red zone (64.6% TD rate allowed – 31st) and can’t convert on 3rd down (36.7% – 20th) or stop their opponent from converting on 3rd down (41.9% – 28th).
The Vikings and Bears will meet this week on Monday Night Football, something they’ve done 11 times in their history together, and a win in prime time this time is what the Vikings need to get back on a roll as the most important part of the season come around – playoff time.
Tags: Adrian Peterson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 4 Comments »