As fun as it is to dissect and review last weekend’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals, we must now turn our attention to the Vikings upcoming opponent – the Chicago Bears. Halfway through the season, Chicago (5-3) sits 2 games ahead of the Vikings in the NFC North standings and they enter this week’s matchup coming off a close road victory over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto.
Soldier Field has not been a pleasant venue for the Vikings over the last decade. Minnesota has won just twice at Soldier Field since 2000 and last year the Vikings lost a nail-biter in overtime on a cold, blustery night. This week, though, the Vikings play a Noon CT game on the road and the weather forecast for Chicago is much better than last year’s – partly cloudy, high of 49 degrees and only a 20% chance for rain.
So who are the Chicago Bears? On one hand they are the team that started out hot, winning 4 of their first 5 games. They have the NFL’s 7th ranked overall defense (allowing 309.6 YPG), the 3rd-ranked rushing defense (83.9 YPG) and the 4th-best scoring defense (16.6 PPG). On the other hand, they’ve lost 2 of their last 3 games (both at home) and they don’t rank higher than 21st in any major team offensive categories (29th overall offense, 21st passing, 27th rushing and 27th scoring).
A major goal for the Vikings this week should be to rush the passer. Bears QB Jay Cutler is talented in that he has a terrific arm, but he’s also prone to mistakes, especially when he’s being pressured. Cutler has 9 TDs this year but he also has 7 INTs and he’s been sacked 28 times in just 7 games played – ouch. But given those numbers, he’s still managed to build a passer rating of 86.0, which is respectable.
In analyzing Chicago’s QB performance, though, we must also look at the team numbers because Cutler was unable to play in Week 5. As a team, Chicago has allowed the most sacks in the NFL (32), they’ve thrown the 4th-most INTs (12) and they rank 29th in passer rating (73.1).
Another focal point for the Vikings this week should be RB Adrian Peterson, who has a history of torching the Bears. Peterson has 11 rushing TDs against Chicago in 6 games played and who could forget his performance at Soldier Field in 2007 as a rookie when he rushed for 224 yards and 3 TDs on 20 carries and also starred as a kick returner. That day Peterson totaled 361 yards in helping lead the Vikings to a thrilling 34-31 win. We’ll have more on Peterson versus the Bears later this week on the vikings.com Blog.
That’s it for now, but before we go we’ll leave you with a few important Bears-related statistics…
– The Bears defense ranks #1 in the NFL in forcing opponents to go 3-and-out (35.6% of the time).
— Chicago has the 5th-best 3rd-down defense in the NFL, holding opponents to a 34.2% conversion rate.
— Chicago is +1 in turnover ratio.
– Chicago scores TDs just 37.5% of the time they enter the red zone, which ranks 29th in the NFL
— The Bears offense has the 3rd-most 3-and-out offensive drives and they rank last in the NFL with a 22.9% 3rd-down conversion rate.
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