By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings complete their season series against the Chicago Bears Sunday at Mall of America Field.
The Vikings (2-8-1) are coming off a disappointing road tie against the Green Bay Packers and the Bears (6-5) are coming off a road blow out at the hands of the St. Louis Rams.
The Bears are 2-3 on the road, including losses at the Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins and Rams. They have defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers and Packers on the road.
Bears on Offense
The Bears are among the best passing teams in the league (seventh with 264.9 yards per game). However, their rushing offense ranks just 21st in the league with 107.5 yards per game.
No matter who the starting quarterback is for the Bears, they will have fantasy starting consideration against the Vikings. The Vikings secondary allowed Packers’ Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn to throw for 298 yards, despite playing one of their better games this season.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are big receivers, and along with tight end Martellus Bennett, are a physically formidable receiver set that will give the Vikings defenders matchup problems – especially when Xavier Rhodes and Chris Cook are not in the game.
Bears on Defense
The Bears have been abysmal at stopping the run. They rank last in the league with 145.2 yards per game. Chicago has been better against the pass at 13th in the league with 230.8 yards per game.
The once vaunted Bears defense is aging, banged up and far from effective.
The Bears are going to have a very hard time stopping Adrian Peterson and the Vikings running offense. Chicago has allowed opponents to run for 776 yards per game over the last four games since coming off a bye week.
Bears Players to Watch
Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall. The 6-foot-4-inch, 230-pound eighth-year veteran leads the Bears in receptions (74), receiving yards (945) and receiving touchdowns (9). He has been Josh McCown’s favorite target with at least 10 targets in each of the quarterback’s four starts this season. Only once has another receiver reached 10 targets from McCown.
Safety Major Wright. The 5-foot-11-inch, 204-pound fourth-year veteran leads the Bears with 76 tackles. He also has forced two fumbles and intercepted two passes – both are second on the team and one behind the leader.
The Bears are still in playoff contention, but that is only because no one in the NFC North has separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Vikings are the only team that knows where it will finish in the standings. The two teams have split their last four meetings in Minneapolis. The Bears should be the favorites, but do they have the personnel to stop the Vikings ground game? Likely not.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.