The Chicago Bears travel to the Metrodome for the very last time to play against the Minnesota Vikings in a must-win game. Here’s an in-depth look at key matchups, Vikings’ personnel, schemes and a score prediction:
The Vikings’ defense, like the Bears’ defense, has been a complete dumpster fire in 2013. The difference is that the Vikings can at least generate a serviceable pass rush. LDE Brian Roberson is a high motor guy who will make the RT across from him earn his game check throughout the day.
Jordan Mills will need to turn it up a notch against the relentless DE. The Vikings have a couple high quality DL who will be a primary focus Sunday …
LT Jermon Bushrod vs. RDE Jared Allen
In the last meeting, Allen gave Bushrods fits, as Bushrod allowed a sack, a QB hit and three hurries. If the Bears want to attack the weakness that is the Vikings’ back seven, the pass protection will need to be much better this go-round, and it starts with neutralizing the team’s best D-lineman.
Allen hasn’t been as dominant as years past this season, but he still has the capability to have a big impact on the game.
RG Kyle Long vs. DT Kevin Williams
In their last meeting against each other, Long had a decent showing against the long time vet, specifically as a run blocker. The Bears are going to need another solid performance from their rookie RG against the veteran Williams.
In order for the Bears to have success in this game, they need all their play makers on offense to be performing at high level. In order for that to happen it all starts up front with the offensive line.
Without their best defensive back in free safety Harrison Smith, the Vikings’ secondary is even more vulnerable to big plays downfield. QB Josh McCown should have favorable matchups on the outside against CBs Xavier Rhodes and Chris Cook.
Both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have the opportunity for big games. Martellus Bennett should also be able to have favorable matchups down the seam and over the middle of the field against the Vikings’ LBs.
Along with an efficient passing game, the Bears will need a solid day from Matt Forte on the ground. It would also be encouraging to see UDFA Michael Ford get some carries since they are getting absolutely nothing from Michael Bush.
Plain and simple, the Bears’ offense will need to continue scoring a lot of points Sunday if Marc Trestman wants to walk out of the Metrodome with his seventh victory as a head coach.
Stop Adrian Peterson and the Bears should get through the Vikings with ease, but that is easier said than done. The Bears are one of the worst defenses in the league at stopping the run, and Peterson is the best RB in the league hands down.
Even with the threat of the play action pass, the Bears will need to consistently have nine-man boxes to even have a chance to stop Peterson on the ground. Yes, there’s a threat of the play action pass, but if you’re the Bears you take your chances and see if Christian Ponder can take advantage of the opportunities that will be there.
Here’s key matchups to watch this Sunday on the defensive side of the ball:
NT Stephen Paea vs. Center John Sullivan
With Trestman stating that the Stephen Paea and Jay Ratliff are on track to play this Sunday, the matchup to watch on the line of scrimmage is in the middle of the trenches between Paea and the Vikings’ standout center John Sullivan.
In order for the Bears to stop Peterson’s inside runs, Paea and Wootton will need to dominate in the middle of that defense. It will make the jobs of Jonathan Bostic, James Anderson and Khaseem Greene much easier if they have open lanes to stop A.P. at the line of scrimmage or behind it.
LDE Shea McClellin vs. RT Phil Loadholt
This is a matchup I dread, as it’s a matchup between the Bears’ weakest run defender against the Vikings’ best run blocker. It would be easy for me to say that McClellin needs to have better run containment compared to last week against the Rams, but that likely isn’t going to happen.
McCellin is just a situational pass rusher, and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker needs to understand that. Tucker’s best bet is to have David Bass on obvious run plays on first and second down and bring in McClellin on obvious passing situations. If not, expect Loadholt to dominate McClellin with ease.
When the Vikings do go through the air, there’s not much to fear. Ponder’s favorite target, Kyle Rudolph, is out for the game with an ankle injury, and their number one WR in Greg Jennings is a shell of his former self.
Both Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright are inconsistent, and Cordarrelle Patterson hasn’t made much of impact as a WR largely due to the struggles at the QB position. With the Vikings’ troubles in their passing offense, expect the Bears’ defense to put a heavy emphasis on stopping Peterson.
Score Prediction: Bears 30, Vikings 24
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