Week 12: Minnesota Vikings At Chicago Bears
- QuarterbackChristian Ponder has lacked consistency. At his best, he is a decent game manager. At his worst, he is substandard. While he completes a high percentage of his passes, he is mainly a dinker and dunker and head coach Leslie Frazier knows he cannot ask his quarterback to try to dissect the overwhelming Chicago defense with downfield passing.Jay Cutler’s concussion forced Jason Campbell to start in Week 11 against the 49ers and head coach Lovie Smith is hoping to have Cutler back for this NFC North game. If Cutler can come back, the Bears’ offense has a much more explosive characteristic to it. However, Cutler has not demonstrated consistency to this point in his tenure in Chicago.
- OffenseAdrian Peterson has been a force of nature in returning from last season’s ACL tear. He is the best power back in the NFL. There is nothing fancy about his game. He will run right at the tacklers, overpower them and burst into the secondary. Percy Harvin is an explosive player who needs to get the ball more often. Kyle Rudolph is an X-factor at tight end who can make third-down catches.The Bears’ offense seems to have enough weapons to be effective, but they have rarely put it together this season. Running back Matt Forte is a solid runner, receiver and blocker who needs to get the ball regularly. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is a great talent who can defeat double coverage. However, offensive line is in shambles after the 49ers destroyed them.
- DefenseThe Vikings are a fundamentally sound defense that depends on positioning and athleticism. They are solid against the run and the pass. Defensive end Jared Allen has tormented the Bears with his speed coming around the corner. Outside linebacker Chad Greenway is a solid tackler and a big hitter. Cornerback Antoine Winfield will have to stay with Marshall for the Vikings to have a chance at the upset.The Bears have been one of the best teams in the league because their defense is a threat to score once or twice in most games. Cornerback Charles Tillman has become a superstar this year with his ability to force fumbles, but he has been an excellent player for a long time. So has outside linebacker Lance Briggs, who has two interception returns for TDs this year. While defensive end Julius Peppers does not have huge stats this season, he is impossible for any single offensive lineman to block by himself.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings are a threat to score on kickoff and punt returns. Harvin has explosive speed and even better instincts as a punt returner. Marcus Sherels has returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Blair Walsh has been dynamic in his placekicking, making 23-of-24 field goal attempts. He is 5-of-5 on attempts of 50 yards or longer.Few kickers have ever mastered kicking in the windy conditions at Soldier Field the way Robbie Gould has. That gives the Bears confidence any time Gould heads onto the field. The Bears expect Devin Hester to get back to his explosive ways as a return specialist.
Smith does not let home games against divisional opponents (other than Green Bay) slip through his team’s grasp. While the Bears want Cutler back in the lineup, their defense can create turnovers and be the difference in this game. The Bears need a turnaround game after the disaster in San Francisco.