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Setting The Table For The Chicago Bears

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 16, 2010 – 7:43 am

A pair of appropriate coincidences will be in play on Monday night as the Vikings host the Chicago Bears. Monday night will be the Vikings last home game of the 50th season in franchise history and it’s against the same team they faced in the first regular season game in franchise history. In addition to that, the Vikings will play a home game in the outdoors for the first time in 29 years to the day of their last outdoor home game – the last game at Met Stadium on December 20, 1981 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The collapse of the roof at Mall of America Field has forced the NFL and the Vikings to move Monday night’s game to TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota. As a result, the Vikings and Bears will be forced to deal with the elements – temperatures are expected to be right around 10 degrees with a windchill making it feel sub-zero.

While the temperatures will be well below freezing for Monday night’s game, the playoff race has heated up for the Bears. They enter the game coming off an embarrassing loss at home to the New England Patriots. In a snowstorm, the Patriots pasted Chicago by a 36-7 count. But the Bears still have a nice 9-4 record, are 1 game ahead of the Green Bay Packers and may be able to put even more distance in the NFC North standings depending on how Green Bay fares on Sunday at New England. The Patriots are heavy favorites in that game and if things fall the way they should, Chicago will have a chance to put the nail in the coffin of the 2010 NFC North race.

In order to do that, though, the Bears will have to march into TCF Bank Stadium and earn a victory. While the Vikings won’t have the benefit of their usual home stadium – Mall of America Field – they will still have the advantage of their home fans. I anticipate a packed house at TCF Stadium and a giddy crowd that will be excited to see outdoor football again, on the same night the team will recognize 50 years of great history by honoring the 50 Greatest Vikings.

The heart and soul of this year’s Bears team is their defense, which is the 3rd-ranked scoring defense and 8th-ranked defense overall. Chicago tends to give up a few yards through the air – they’re ranked 18th in pass defense – but they are dominant against the run, yielding just 87.9 yards per game, ranked 2nd in the league. DE Julius Peppers anchors a defensive line that is playing well, but the key to this defense is the LBs. When middle LB Brian Urlacher and OLB Lance Briggs are on the field together, this defense is really good. And they’ve been on the field together a lot this year. Urlacher is the steady hand that guides this group and Briggs is a legitimate playmaking LB that is equally good against the run and the pass.

Offensively, the Bears are a bit unimpressive to be honest. They had trouble protecting QB Jay Cutler earlier in the year, but offensive line coach Mike Tice has gotten that fixed. Also, Chicago has gone away from a wide array of offensive sets and formations and they’ve become more of a “meat and potatoes” group. The running game is paced by Matt Forte, with Chester Taylor as the complementary back, and the passing game features speedy WRs such as Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. TE Greg Olsen has also become more of a factor this year and he’s able to use his size to be a reliable target on 3rd downs and in the red zone.

Ultimately, though, this offense boils down to Cutler. If he plays well or even just okay, the Bears can win with a great performance by their defense. If Cutler struggles, though, Chicago can fall apart at the seams. A season ago, Cutler had an atrocious 27-26 TD/INT ratio. This year it’s a little better – 17/12 – but the former 1st-round pick has still shown a tendency to get wild. He had a 4-INT game at home against Washington in Week 7 and he’s had 2 other multi-INT games in the past 5 weeks. And while the offensive line has fixed some protection issues, Cutler was sacked twice last week in the loss to New England and 8 times in the 2 weeks prior to that game.

It all sets up for an interesting game on Monday night, as the Vikings play an outdoor game for the first time in 29 years in front of some of the greatest Vikings to ever lace ‘em up. And it’s all on Monday Night Football


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 45 Comments »


45 Responses to “Setting The Table For The Chicago Bears”

  1. By SmileyStar on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Why am I hearing that the TCF stadium may not be ready on time and the game may be moved to Atlanta?

  2. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Remind me why Minnesota built this metro dome? Maybe they should remove the roof and play in it as an open air stadium. They would save on the energy bill.

  3. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    SmileyStar I have not head that.

  4. By Mike on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    I can’t quite understand why the news media is doing a better job than Vikings.com in communicating to fans regarding Monday night’s game. The last post was 19 hours ago?!? How hard is it to make a game location and ticketing decision so fans can make plans. Yet another sign of the troubles ths season.

  5. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    • (Southern California has been the home of many professional football teams, from the L.A. Buccaneers in 1926 (a traveling team that never actually played in Los Angeles) to the XFL champion L.A. Xtreme in 2002. The Avengers were the last active team in L.A., but the team folded last year) Associated Press
    • Published: Dec. 15, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.
    • Updated: Dec. 15, 2010 at 12:35 a.m.

    Not one of them could make a go of it. Why would anyone think otherwise? So you who think the Vikings would be better off in LA should think twice.

  6. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    I think the Vikings head office has been the big problem this year. They cannot make up their minds. We need all new staff in the office.

  7. By Fan From Utah on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    I just want to know if I am going to get to be there to see the game?? I have spent A LOT of money planning this trip and now they have waited too long to announce where, when and how…too late to cancel my trip if I am not going to get to be there in person to see it. There needs to be an offical announcement made SOON!

  8. By Diana on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Remove the roof is a great idea. That way everyone will see the game.

  9. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    “We’re confident. We’re optimistic,” Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said. “A lot of people are working very hard to get it done. But we want to assure the fans in the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota that we’re going to have a game in Minnesota and celebrate our 50th anniversary, and [have] a dinner beforehand honoring the top 50 players. I look forward to being back outdoors the way I was always used to watching games and enjoying games.”

    Zygi wants the game to be outdoors, but they do not know if they can play there, Sounds like they may wait until Saturday or Sunday to make up their minds; 36 hours or so according to the news.

  10. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    SmileyStar you may be right.

  11. By Justin on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    @ Smiley

    What’s your source? Because I don’t get why the NFL would move the game down south when they could move it to Green Bay. Alot closer…

  12. By SDSUVikesFan on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Down goes TJACK! Let’s go JOE!

  13. By SmileyStar on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    TJack is placed on IR with a Turf Toe to Injury.

  14. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Sounds like Zygi would like a new semi open air stadium. Wow, was that not what we older Viking fans wanted in 1981?

  15. By SmileyStar on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Couple stories out of Chicago newspapers. They said that if the TCF Stadium is not ready in time that the game would be moved to Atlanta, because anywhere else in the midwest would mean a hostile crowd for the Vikes. Because it is supposed to be a home game Minnesota wants Atlanta to host the game, hoping for at least a neutral crowd.

    I think the last thing the Vikings would want is to play a home game filled with Packer fans.

  16. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    If the game must be moved from Minnesota, the Indianapolis Colts have offered to host the game inside their domed Lucas Oil Stadium, team sources told Clayton on Wednesday. However, the sources said the Vikings are wary of that option because they fear Chicago fans will buy out Indy’s stadium.

    Information from ESPN.com’s John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  17. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Information from ESPN.com’s John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    He said the NFL was developing a plan to treat the field with warming chemicals to soften it, and looking into laying a tarp across the playing field that would have some type of heating element underneath.
    Officials don’t know what will happen when they turn the water back on in TCF Bank Stadium because they turned off the water after the Gophers’ last game in November and the pipes could freeze.

  18. By Justin on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Wow…

    I feel sorry for the Vikings, even feeling pity for them.

  19. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Information from ESPN.com’s John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    The bathrooms and concession stands are also concerns. The concessions must be insulated because it’s safe to work in those stands only if it is over 30 degrees and bathrooms in the stadium have an open entry and aren’t heated, meaning the pipes could freeze.

    Hope you all like cold seats if you should have to go.

  20. By Kathy on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    I agree! My husband and I live in Chicago. He is a Bears fans and I am a Vikings fan. We are leaving Saturday morning from Chicago to get to Minneapolis. We have spend a lot of money on flight, hotel, tickets, etc. We HAD tickets in the 6th row near the endzone. How are they gonna figure out who gets to go and who doesn’t??? It’s too late to cancel travel plans now so we will still be making the trip. It would just be nice to know if my tickets will be honored or not and will I still get decent seats since I paid quite a bit above face for them. I realize all this is happening on short notice but please let the ticket holder know SOMETHING!

  21. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Information from ESPN.com’s John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Ellison said the goal was to have the stadium game-ready by the end of the day Sunday.

    In addition to the issues caused by the weather, school officials, the Vikings and the NFL were negotiating a host of other logistical questions, from whether beer would be available at the normally dry stadium to how a 50,000-seat stadium could accommodate 54,000 Vikings season-ticket holders.
    The team said it was “working to accommodate fans’ questions” but acknowledged it would take time to get the answers in such a “fluid situation.” Ellison said the school was looking into setting up more seats for the game — the Metrodome has a football seating capacity of about 63,000.

  22. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Information from ESPN.com’s John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Ellison said that owners of the Gopher stadium’s 38 luxury suites would have first right to use them at Monday night’s game.

  23. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Information from ESPN.com’s John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Tuesday, engineers from Birdair Inc., the Amherst, N.Y.-based manufacturer of the Metrodome’s roof, inspected the teflon roof and discovered damage was worse than initially expected on. The company gave the dome’s owners, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, two options to repair the damage: mending the torn panels, a short-term solution that would leave the panels still needing to be replaced, or replacing the panels with new material, a more long-term solution that would also be more time-consuming.

  24. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Information from ESPN.com’s John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Asked whether the collapse could help speed plans for a new stadium, Wilf said: “I’ve always advocated to have a new facility and right now we’re making sure we get this venue ready this week, then we’ll talk about addressing those issues as they come up.”

  25. By DRS on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Again why did Minnesota build this type of dome? An inflatable roof, really? They wear brilliant in 1981; not!

  26. By SmileyStar on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    So was the Dome inspected as often as the Bridges?

  27. By wispurplehead on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Has anybody heard the status of Percy for Monday’s game???

  28. By Mike on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    IR for T-Joke. Betcha he will be at Childress’s house watching the game on Monday night. They will both be sitting in Lazy Boys holding hands across the end table.

  29. By wispurplehead on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    You have that right Mike…LOL!!!!

  30. By NovaScotiaVike on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Tavaris and his toe have taken their last snap as a Viking. GOOD RIDDANCE.

  31. By Mike on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    I can understand the situation is fluid. However, it’s not hard to make plans for the Bank, make ticketing decisions, and announce them. Then, you have your contingency plan to Atlanta if plan A doesn’t work out. Waiting until Sunday to announce a real decision is typical of the Childress era. Give me a break. I’ve had season tickets more than 25 years. The current bunch in charge are laughable.

  32. By Mike on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Wanna keep the new stadium support luke warm, Vikes? Just keep up the inability to make a decision and keep up the inability to communicate. The current situation isn’t that difficult to deal with. Get a clue. Make a decision. Making a decision will certainly upset a few. Not making a decision will upset everyone.

  33. By NovaScotiaVike on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Trade Tavaris right now to Buffalo for 50,000 seat warmers.

  34. By Titus on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    The organization needs a complete, total overhaul from top to bottom– from whomever is the webmaster ( I came on here last night, and there was an announcement Chilly was doing a presser!) to the upper management. This is unacceptable to fans– especially for those traveling here from out of town– wait till Sunday to announce? Imagine any business enterprise running their operations like this— oh, reservations for Valentines? Wait, sir, umm, call back on Feb 13, and we can then see if we have a cook in the kitchen. This is an harassment on the 50th anniversary– I do wonder if Favre did what is alleged– things are not coincidence as Mike likes to write– there are reasons why things happen– this whole debacle this year is not some misfortune that accidentally occurred. We need leadership, we need an organizational structure with accountability, benchmarks of excellence, oversight, etc–

  35. By Titus on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    * I am not sure what happened– embarrassment, not harassment — sorry, I guess I should not be cooking, working, and blogging at the same time. But, like I said, there are no accidents–

  36. By mr smiff on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    I believe Favre is innocent.

  37. By Titus on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Mr. Smiff we may never know. If he were innocent, I would think he would have had the firepower with his money, lawyers, and friends to have squashed this news story– instead he kept quiet, and the story is still there– Favre did admit to calling her– he did do that. Logically thinking, why does a 39 yr old call a 25 something yr old when he is married? Why? I do not think it was to get a better read on defensive schemes.

  38. By any info for game on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Does anyone has any information at all regarding the bears game? my family is traveling from Mississippi and we literally havent been told anything helpful. all the articles say the game will be held at tcf bank stadium and now a few articles are coming out mentioning the georgia dome??? it’s crazy and a tiny bit annoying how we dont have any definitive info…as much as i want to tour minneapolis, we really only are coming to see and support brett favre…so im hoping we have somewhere to go once we get off the plane…..any info from anyone is appreciated.

  39. By Mike on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    To “any info on the game”,

    The press here in the Twin Cities continues to report that plans are underway at TCF Stadium to host the game there Monday night. However, they report that the NFL has not yet made a decision. One report I saw said that TV crews would arrive today and help determine if the game could be televised from there. Other issues include open air bathrooms that have no heat and will likely have pipes freeze. Nobody has reported a solution to that one. Another problem is the open air, unheated concession stands. There is talk of installing plexiglass to get some heat in them. Another issue is that the stadium seats less than 51,000 versus over 63,000 tickets sold for the game. There is talk of bringing in some bleachers, but I can’t believe bleachers can seat enough to matter. I think all of this is causing the Vikes to spin their heads instead of make a decision. If the game gets played at TCF stadium Monday night, quite a few people will not get in. Therefore, rather than upsetting them, the Vikes have decided to upset everyone and say nothing. I am finding the most news on ESPN and the local press here in Minneapolis. I continue to be reminded why I don’t visit vikings.com very often…….nothing new is ever reported here. Vikings.com is the last to report anything and everything. Today I am here just for the blogs. The news on the site is beyond old. For all who are not here, ESPN.com is a far better site to get information on the “fluid”, or rather frozen, situation. They have multiple video clips and always get information posted far before vikings.com.

  40. By Mike on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Hey……the top news article number 2 on vikings.com has NFL officials touring TCF stadium for nearly 24 hours now. Maybe they’ll be done touring pretty soon and vikings.com can report on something new ;-)

  41. By mr smiff on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Titus, there is a lot of things about this story that makes very little sense to me. I think he was just trying to focus on football and allow the truth to come out on its own. I just wish this thing was over with.

  42. By CaribooBill on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    Can you imagine the chaotic environment that must be going on now within the Vikings’ organization? They’ve just fired a coach, have a new INTERIM one, their starting HOF QB is out, his replacement is on IR, their stadium has deflated, they just played a home game at an out-of-state stadium that is reportedly a gem, they don’t know whether or not they will be playing at TCF and they are trying to celebrate a 50th anniversary, while juggling a roster that is decimated with injuries, illness, and weaknesses. I, for one, will cut them some slack, but they need to get their act together so the fans know what is going on. Now is the time for the organization to step forward and shine!

  43. By Chris from Canada on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    We are flying in from Canada on Saturday, so it would be nice if they kept ticket holders updated. Even if they aren’t sure that TCF will be up and running, at least say so. Don’t care if it is outside, we are used to cold weather! But let us know some details!

  44. By VAF on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    I have tickets to Monday’s game against the Bears. Has anyone heard of a refund policy for those who won’t be able to attend the game?

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