Trends Favor Peterson In Matchup vs. Bears Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 23, 2012 – 1:39 pm

A key subplot to Sunday’s Vikings-Bears game is Adrian Peterson vs. a stout Chicago defense. There are trends that conjure up optimism for both sides.

For example, to find the last time Adrian Peterson rushed for 100+ yards against the Chicago Bears you have to go back 5 games – to November 30 of 2008. Also, the Bears currently rank 8th in rushing yards per game allowed (95.2) and tied for 2nd in rushing TDs allowed (3). Through the first 6 games of this season, the Bears were dominant against the run, yielding just 71.0 yards per game and a total of 1 rushing TD.

More recent trends, though, favor Peterson. The NFL’s best RB is averaging 157.3 yards per game over the last 4 contests and an incredible 7.7 yards per carry over that same span. He’s the NFL’s leading rusher by 123 yards (over Marshawn Lynch), has 4 straight 100+ yards rushing games and two weeks ago tied a franchise record for consecutive games (3) with a 60-yard run. On top of all that, the Bears defense over the past 4 games has hit a snag, allowing 131.5 yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt.

Which set of trends will prove to be prophetic? We won’t find out until midday on Sunday. Bears backers will point to the game being played at Soldier Field and their team’s recent history against Peterson. But Peterson supporters will point to the more practical evidence of the past 4 games.

There is one more notable trend to point out: the more teams run against the Bears, the most success they find. Opposing offenses ran the ball 109 times for 426 yards against Chicago over the first 6 games. Since then (4 games), opponents have run the ball 118 times for 526 yards. Quick math tells you that over the last 4 games the Bears have allowed exactly 100 more rushing yards on just 9 more carries than they allowed in the first 6 games.

But to be able to stay committed to the run, you have to be in the game. If other subplots in the Vikings-Bears matchup go in favor of Chicago, they might not have to worry about the whole Peterson vs. Bears defense subplot.

So what will happen on Sunday? Will Peterson continue his climb? Or will the Bears defense return to form and continue playing well against the NFL’s best RB? Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry. And then watch (on FOX) or listen to (on the Vikings Radio Network) or follow (on the Live Chat) the Vikings-Bears game on Sunday at noon CT.

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Harvin Listed As Doubtful; Jarius Wright Will Be Active Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 23, 2012 – 1:06 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met briefly with reporters after practice on Friday and provided an update on the probability of WR Percy Harvin returning from his ankle injury in time for this Sunday’s game in Chicago. The chances are not good that Harvin will play, as Frazier said his star WR will be listed as doubtful on the week’s final injury report.

Harvin injured his ankle against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9 and has been rehabbing and recovering since. The ankle has improved, but he’s yet to be able to participate in a practice since the injury. Harvin’s final status for the game likely won’t be declared until 90 minutes prior to kickoff, which is when teams are required to submit their list of inactive players.

Regardless of what happens with Harvin, Frazier did say that WR Jarius Wright will be active. The rookie 4th-rounder played in his first NFL regular season game two weeks ago against Detroit with Harvin sidelined. Wright responded with 3 receptions for 65 yards and 1 TD. He’ll have another chance to contribute in Chicago this weekend.

Frazier said Wright does not figure to fill in for Harvin in the kickoff return role. Marcus Sherels, AJ Jefferson and Josh Robinson (in that order) are listed as backups to Harvin in the kickoff return role.

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Bears QB Cutler Practices, “Looking Better” To Play Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 23, 2012 – 7:22 am

Early this week it was unclear who would start at QB for the Chicago Bears on Sunday, with Jay Cutler still feeling the effects of a concussion and backup Jason Campbell dealing with an injury to his ribs. But after Thursday’s practice, the picture is a bit clearer.

Cutler, who sustained the concussion two weeks ago in a loss to the Houston Texans and then missed last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday. It was the first time Cutler had been on the field working since suffering the concussion on November 11., and it’s a big step in him returning to the field to be the Bears starter against the Vikings.

“I know you all want to know about Jay Cutler. He was able to do some things on a limited basis,” Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith said. “So it’s looking better for (him) to get him back on the football field.”

Chicago will wisely attempt to keep Cutler’s status in doubt all the way up to Sunday morning, but another clue will emerge later on Friday when the Vikings and Bears are both required to submit their final injury reports of the week.

The same can be said for the Vikings with regard to WR Percy Harvin, who is attempting to nurse an ankle injury back to health in time for Sunday’s game. Harvin has not practiced yet this week, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has said multiple times this week that he’d like to see the star receiver practice before playing.

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