Tale Of The Tape: Chicago Bears At Minnesota Vikings
- QuarterbackThe Bears are functional on offense even with Jay Cutler sidelined due to ankle and groin programs. Josh McCown is a solid backup quarterback who may not have Cutler’s velocity or arm strength, but he reads defenses well and throws the ball accurately. Most importantly, he understands timing and he will not rush his throws.Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has not made a lot of correct decisions concerning the Vikings’ quarterback situation, but he has done one thing right by leaving Josh Freeman on the bench. Christian Ponder may not be much, but he is better than Freeman and he appears to be getting better. Ponder does not make as many mistakes when he is in the pocket, and that’s progress.
- OffenseThe Bears want Matt Forte to get 20 touches or more every game. He is a smooth runner who has the power to break arm tackles. He’s also a dependable receiver, but he could be slowed by an ankle injury. Brandon Marshall has size, strength and the speed to make big plays. Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett are good receivers who can take the heat off Marshall.Adrian Peterson has been playing with a bit of a groin problem, but he still rushed for a season-high 146 yards against the Packers in Week 12. He should be able to rip apart a Bears defense that lacks strength at the point of attack. Look for backup Toby Gerhart to have a solid game as well. Ponder will try to get the ball to wide receivers Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson, but the running game should dominate.
- DefenseThe Bears were known for their hard-hitting and effective defense for generations, but that unit has fallen on miserable times. The Bears gave up more than 10 yards per carry in their Week 12 loss to the Rams, and they could get overwhelmed by Peterson. Chicago desperately needs linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman back in the lineup, but that won’t happen this week.The Vikings have had plenty of problems on defense this year as they rank 30th overall and 29th against the pass, but that unit stiffened in overtime when the Packers had a first-and-goal situation but were forced to settle for a field goal. Linebacker Chad Greenway is not a knockout hitter, but he leads the Vikings with 95 tackles. Defensive ends Jared Allen and Bryan Robison each have 5.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Bears have not been dependable in their special teams coverage and that could cost them badly against explosive Cordarrelle Patterson. Devin Hester had a punt return for a TD called back against the Rams as a result of a penalty. PK Robbie Gould is very dependable.Patterson has remarkable speed and he has already returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, while Marcus Sherels has a punt return for a score. The Vikings have given up a punt return for a score. PK Blair Walsh has made 19-of-21 FG attempts and has one of the strongest legs in the NFL.
The Bears should have a big advantage over the struggling Vikings, but the Chicago defense has fallen apart and they will not be able to slow down Adrian Peterson. That weakness may trump the Bears’ advantage at the skill positions.