Simple game to evaluate.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- I think Jay Cutler is coming back.
- I think the Bears defense is angry they looked so awful Monday night.
- I think Percy Harvin will be limited due to a nagging ankle injury. Harvin is an excellent player but once he starts to be hobbled by injury it usually don't stop.
- The Chicago Bears have to beat two players Sunday at Soldier Field. Let's talk about each.
THE BEARS ON OFFENSE: STOPPING JARED ALLEN
Jared Allen is arguably the best pass rushing 4-3 defensive end in the sport. He can wreck a football game. And while he's entering Soldier Field with only seven sacks on the year one can logically assume he expects to exit with 10 or 11 in the stat column. That's what a premiere pass rusher sees when they look at tape of the two gentlemen playing offensive tackle for the Chicago Bears. (And the backups aren't exactly intimidating.) He sees a padded sheet. He sees glory.
The Allen Challenge does not belong to J'Marcus Webb. Webb isn't in Allen's class and he's not going to be anytime ever. The Allen Challenge belongs to Mike Tice. How will Tice prevent a wrecked game? There are a dozen options. He can chip Allen with backs. He can bring Evan Rodriguez and Matt Spaeth to Allen's side consistently. He can take James Brown or Gabe Carimi or whomever is not starting at right tackle and park him next to Webb, sticking with a "big" package for the entire afternoon.
If Tice can't find the right scheme or package of players to slow Allen down Sunday then he's simply unfit to lead this offense and should be dismissed as the primary play caller before the Bears and Seahawks kick off on December 2nd. The Bears have to simplify everything Sunday. Run it. Throw short. Block. Kick field goals. Win.
THE BEARS ON DEFENSE: STOPPING ADRIAN PETERSON
The Vikings don't have a complicated run scheme. They hand off to one of the greatest running backs to ever live, Adrian Peterson, and he runs the ball exceptionally hard. This season he's doing so after a miraculous comeback from tearing his knee apart at the end of the 2011 season.
Here's what he's done thus far:
The Bears were physically manhandled by the Niners Monday night. (Watch Frank Gore light up Lance Briggs again if you don't believe me.) If they allow themselves to punished at the point of attack again Peterson will unload on them for 200+ and a couple touchdowns. If they allow Peterson to run wild it will allow Christian Ponder operate a manageable, play action offense and avoid big errors. It all comes down to holding Peterson to the 12 carries for 30-something yards he had a year ago at Soldier Field.
A year ago the Bears went to Detroit on a Monday and were embarrassed in front of a national audience. Six days later they hosted the Minnesota Vikings and Jay Cutler threw them out of the building, winning 39-10. Now they're hosting the Vikings again, six days after another Monday Night Football disaster. Will the result be the same?
Chicago Bears 24, Minnesota Vikings 10