Beginning with the Purple People Eaters and Monsters of the Midway in the 1960s and 70s and continuing through 51 years of football, the Vikings and Bears have traditionally featured physical, hard-nosed defenses. The Vikings and Bears physical style of play over the years is a big reason why the division in which they play is known as the “black and blue” division.
The tradition of fierce defenses continues for each franchise today, as the Vikings feature a talented defensive line and currently rank #5 against the run in the NFL. The Bears, meanwhile, feature an outstanding duo at LB with Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, and they have a tremendous pass rusher at DE in Julius Peppers.
As proud a defensive team as both the Vikings and Bears are, though, Sunday night’s matchup between the two clubs also features a pair of premier RBs who, if not properly defended, can rack up big-time yardage against any defense. The Vikings, who rank 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards per game, feature the NFL’s 2nd-leading rusher and best RB in Adrian Peterson. The Bears answer with the versatile Matt Forte, who leads his club in both rushing and receiving, and is the NFL’s 6th-ranked rusher.
There is no question what Chicago’s #1 priority will be on defense: stop Peterson. But that’s been a task easier said than done for Chicago since Peterson has entered the League. As Christian Peterson noted in this week’s “What To Watch For,” Peterson averages 112 rushing yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry against Chicago in 7 contests; he’s also scored 11 TDs. Peterson had just 50 yards last year at Soldier Field, but prior to that Peterson had felt rather comfortable in the Bears home stadium. From 2009 to 2007, here are Peterson’s stat lines: 27 touches, 137 total yards, 2 TDs; 23 touches, 130 yards, 2 TDs; 21 touches, 233 yards, 3 TDs. Those are elite numbers, obviously, and it’s a trend the Bears defense will be looking to stop on Sunday night.
But the Bears also feature a RB that must be stopped. Forte already has a 200-yard rushing game this season, and he’s also registered a 100-yard receiving game. He’s a double-threat coming out of the backfield and he possesses the combination of power and speed to make him a 3-down RB if the Bears desire. Only 2 other RBs have more runs of 20+ yards than Forte, and only 2 other RBs have a better per carry average than Forte’s 5.4. No, he’s not the caliber runner of Peterson, but he’s a Top 10 sort of RB and he’s good enough to carry the Bears to victory.
So while both of these franchises have a proud history of fierce defensive play, both teams also currently have game-breaking RBs that must be contained by their current-day defense. The question is, which club will execute better in the running game on Sunday night?
Tags: Adrian Peterson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 4 Comments »