Barring injury, Bears won’t catch Vikings in 2009

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While perusing the web for fan opinion as I often do to gauge the pulse of Bear Nation, I came across a curious question submitted by a fan to a Q&A article written by Sun-Times Bears beat reporter Brad Biggs.

Do you believe the Bears can catch the Vikings?

The answer is a resounding no, even though the Bears have yet to play them this year.

The Vikings have a ridiculously easy schedule ahead of them. After their bye this week, Minnesota has a string of three straight home games. They host the Lions and Seahawks — two sure wins — before the Bears visit Nov. 29. Chicago has not done well in Minnesota, having won just once in the Lovie Smith era, a 19-16 victory during the Bears’ Super Bowl season of 2006. In fact, the only other time during this decade that the Bears beat the Vikings in Minnesota was in 2001, their other 13-3 season.

After their three-game home stand, the Vikings will travel to Arizona, where they destroyed the Cardinals last year, 35-14. The Vikings have improved this year whereas the Cardinals are arguably worse.

The Vikings should have their toughest remaining test when they host the Bengals Dec. 13, but I expect them to win that home game. They will then travel to Carolina (Dec. 20) and Chicago (Dec. 28) in back-to-back prime time games before finishing the season at home against the Giants.

Worst-case scenario for them, the Vikings lose to the Cardinals, Bengals, Giants, and the road game against the Bears to finish 11-5. Best-case scenario is they win out or drop a game against the Cardinals, Bengals, or Giants to finish 15-1 or 14-2.

The Bears’ remaining schedule looks much more daunting, particularly in the month of November. The Bears host the Cardinals, travel to San Francisco, where they haven’t won since the ’80s, host the NFC East-leading Eagles, and then travel to Minnesota. In my opinion, the Bears will be lucky to win one of those four games.

December isn’t much easier to the Bears. They begin with a gimme hosting the Rams, then they welcome the Packers before traveling to Baltimore, and they end the month when they host the Vikings in a Monday night matchup. The Bears conclude the regular season in January in Detroit.

Worst-case scenario, the Bears go 2-7 the rest of the way. Best-case scenario, I can’t seem them topping 6 wins the rest of the way, which would give them 10 wins on the season.

This is obviously all my opinion, but the Bears’ best-case scenario wouldn’t even be enough to match the Vikings’ worst-case scenario.

The Vikings are a runaway freight train right now, which also explains the running style of Adrian Peterson. With the addition of Brett Favre this year, defenses can no longer focus on Peterson and dare Tarvaris Jackson to beat them through the air. Some speculate Favre will wear down toward season’s end much like he did last year with the Jets, but there are no signs of him slowing down. Not only does he not look like he’s weakening, but he seems to be playing like he’s 30 years old, not 40.

At this point, Bears fans, it’s best to forget about the division title, because barring a serious injury, the Vikings are primed to seize the crown by the beginning of December. A better goal would be competing for the wild card, but the Bears have already lost tiebreakers to the Packers and Falcons. If the Bears continue to struggle blocking defenders and defending opponents’ passing games, playoffs won’t be within reach, anyway.

Let’s hope Cutler remains healthy enough to play a full season and that the Bears can at least match the 9-7 record they had last year under Kyle Orton.

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