The Chicago Bears (6-5) and Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1) will meet for the 106th time ever on Sunday afternoon.
Chicago trails the all-time 50-53-2.
The Bears got by the disappointing Vikings back in Week Two, 31-30.
This time around, the task ahead for Marc Trestman's team is the same, try to slow down Minnesota's running back Adrian Peterson.
The Bears struggling run defense has only been getting worse by each week, drawing plenty of criticism from fans and media.
A week after allowing 261 yards on 26 combined carries by Rams runners Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham things won't get any easier with Peterson on the field.
On the fast track at the Mall of America Field it should favor Peterson and the Vikings, but the Bears know what must be done.
Some veteran bodies could be returning at the perfect time. Jeremiah Ratliff is expected to make his Bears debut after signing with the team on Nov. 2. Stephen Paea is considered questionable after practicing the past two days.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Ratliff will be playing in his first game in over than a year. He played in a 3-4 scheme in Dallas for eight years, but the veteran should be a big help even on limited snaps.
Safety Craig Steltz could be in the starting lineup next to Chris Conte, with Major Wright (hamstring) questionable. That could actually be an upgrade as Steltz is a much better run stopper and the Bears will be sending eight guys in the box more often than not.
The banged up Bears defense needs to find its identity in a huge game. The Lions destroyed the Packers on Thanksgiving, so now is the time for Chicago to make a run and win the NFC North race.
Four games remain following this week (two home, two away) and quite frankly the Vikings aren't a good team. The Bears' offense has to run the ball more if it wants to keep Peterson off the field.
The less the defense is on the field for the Bears, the better things should be. Quarterback Josh McCown could be making his last start of the season with Jay Cutler aiming a Week 14 return.
McCown matches up well against a terrible Vikings pass defense. Minnesota allows roughly 282 yards through the air per game, which ranks 29th in the NFL.
Opposing quarterbacks are posting an average QB rating of 97.7, a 65 percent completion percentage and over 40 attempts per game.
The Bears must attack the Vikings weak pass defense, but they also want to make sure they win the time of possession in the process.
Expect plenty of short slant routes with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Also, Matt Forte will likely be involved a ton in this one.
Bears- Linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle) and safety Anthony Walters (groin) have all been ruled out. Safety Major Wright (hamstring), defensive tackles Stephen Paea (toe) and Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) are all considered questionable.
--Defensive back Derrick Martin (hamstring) is considered questionable after being limited all week.
Vikings- Tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) and cornerback Josh Robinson (chest) have been ruled out. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Joe Webb are probable after each suffering concussions a week ago.
Players Who Must Step
In his first game back since suffering a hamstring injury, the second-year pro made just one tackle last week. He needs to step it up in this big matchup as the Bears will be looking to rattle Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. The debut of Ratliff and the possible return of Paea could make things easier as Corey Wootton will likely swing back to defensive end. McClellin showed flashes against a weak Packers offensive line three weeks ago. He needs to bring the heat because his starting gig could be on the line moving forward. Expect McClellin to be flying around on Sunday.
The University of Florida rookie struggled mightily a week ago in St. Louis making five tackles and really looking lost for most of the afternoon. The second level includes Bostic, James Anderson and fellow rookie Khaseem Greene. As bad as the defensive line has played, the linebackers have played even worse. Bostic needs to stay in his gaps against his biggest test as a pro in Peterson. This is a huge game for the progression of Bostic, who has shown flashes, but just hasn't put it all together yet.
The second-year man is only 140 yards away from an 1,000-yard season. The kid has tons of talent, that was evident in his rookie campaign, but this year he is a force. He reeled in four catches for 42 yards in Week 12. He has been a nice weapon opposite Marshall and out of the backfield, compiling 13 carries for 115 yards. It seems like Jeffery and Marshall flip-flop 100-yard receiving games. I think this is the week both of them have huge games. The Vikings defense is not good, especially their pass defense. Jeffery should have a field day on Sunday.
Final Score Prediction
Bears 27, Vikings 23
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