A preview and breakdown of the matchup between the Bears and Vikings on Dec. 9, 2012.
(Note: This will be an abbreviated version due to a prior family commitment)
Bears offense vs. Vikings defense
The Bears can take advantage of the Vikings in the passing game. When these teams met two weeks ago, Brandon Marshall caught 12 passes for 92 yards. Look for Jay Cutler to continue forcing him the ball until the Vikings can stop it. The Bears would like to run the ball more to keep Adrian Peterson on the opposing sideline and control the tempo, but they’ll take whatever the defense gives them. Jared Allen and the Vikings pass rush didn’t have much of a presence the last time these teams played but at home it could be a different story for them.
Bears defense vs. Vikings offense
The Bears will be without linebacker Brian Urlacher, the leader of their defense, and cornerback Tim Jennings, the league’s interception leader. The Bears will almost certainly have their hands full with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson all day. I honestly would be surprised if they managed to keep him in check. Peterson still had 108 yards on 18 carries two weeks ago with Urlacher in the middle. Although Nick Roach might be more athletic than a hobbled Urlacher at this point, he doesn’t have the same presence and awareness that the Bears’ veteran middle linebacker had. The Vikings don’t have their second-best playmaker anymore as Percy Harvin is done for the year. And they don’t have a quarterback capable of beating the Bears through the air. But if the Bears cannot contain Peterson, all bets are off and the playbook becomes wide open. It’s time the front four made its presence felt if the Bears want any kind of edge in this matchup.
The Bears only have a slight edge in this department. Football Outsiders has the Bears and Vikings ranked 4 and 5, respectively, on special teams. The Bears don’t have to worry about facing the dangerous Harvin in the return game, but Marcus Sherels is a pretty good one. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has been solid this season and he’ll have the advantage of playing indoors this time as opposed to outside in the swirling winds of Soldier Field. Devin Hester is probable for the game so we’ll see what kind of impact he can have for the Bears, but it hasn’t been much this season. The Bears really need this phase of their team to step up and contribute in what should be a tight contest.
There’s not much going in the Bears favor right now. They’ll riddled with injuries and going on the road in a tough place to play, regardless of the caliber of opponent they’re facing. The one thing you can say for the Bears is that they have an advantage at the most important position on the field, where Jay Cutler is a clear advantage over Christian Ponder at quarterback. We may see another Cutler-to-Marshall show as they’re the only ones playing well offensively for the Bears. If the Vikings take that away, the Bears could be dead in the water. On the flip side for the Vikings, we could see the Peterson show as I don’t feel the Bears have what it’ll take to contain him. If Peterson runs all over the defense, they’re in big trouble. Unfortunately, even though I still think the Bears have the better roster at this point despite injuries, the matchup just doesn’t look good at the moment. I sure hope the Bears prove me wrong, because 8-5 heading into a Packers week doesn’t look as good as 9-4 does.
Final Score: Minnesota 23, Chicago 20