It is very difficult to write another game preview for Bears v. Vikings when I just wrote one two weeks ago and almost nothing has changed. The Bears still need the game. The Vikings still need the game. Percy Harvin is not playing. Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen are.
But I shall do so anyway.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- Christian Ponder's last six games have been - with the exception of an excellent performance against Detroit - terrible. Exclude the Lions game and Ponder is completing just over 50% of his passes (50.12), he's thrown 4 TDs and 7 INTs and his quarterback rating is 49.54. (By no coincidence, Harvin hasn't played an entire game since October 25th.)
ADRIAN PETERSON IS TRULY GREAT
I can't root against Adrian Peterson in the same way could never root against Barry Sanders. I have too much respect for his greatness. The difference between Peterson and Sanders? This:
I'd like to write the Bears need to stop Peterson to beat the Vikings but the Packers allowed AP to go off for 200+ and still won by double digits. So I would say this to the Bears defense: limit AP and win.
IT IS JAY CUTLER'S TIME
28 points. That should be the minimum number for Jay Cutler and the Bears offense this week. 28 points. The Bears defense is reeling off Russell Wilson's two-drive, 177 yard mauling at Soldier Field and right now can not be expected to shutdown the Vikings with the ease they did at Soldier Field in late November. We've all commented on the progress being made by Mike Tice and the offense but now - over these final four games - that progress needs to translate into points. 28 points. Sunday.
PAULA COLE: WHERE HAS ALL THE PASS RUSH GONE?
Here is my problem with the Bears pass rush: over the last three games the combination of Peppers, Idonije, McClellin and Wootton has three total sacks and even those three sacks feel completely unimpressive. Watching the Bears defensive line up close on Sunday, only two players jumped off the field: Henry Melton (spectacular) and actually Nate Collins. If the Bears don't find a consistent edge rush over the next month they will do no better than .500.
ANALYZE THIS, THAT & THE OTHER...
- The loss to the Seahawks overshadowed two things. One was of course Cutler's magnificent performance. But the other was Adam Podlesh, at crunch time, dropping a punt inside the 5. Podlesh has been better of late and I've noticed.
- Players on notice: Geno Hayes (you can't be 54 but you can tackle), Kelvin Hayden (you can't be Tim Jennings but you can try), DJ Moore (back in the nickel spot) & Eric Weems (be smarter on kick returns).
- I would hope the Bears defensive meeting rooms this week were infatuated with Kyle Rudolph. If Ponder can't get the ball to his big tight end he can't get the ball down the field so it's incumbent upon the combination of LB/nickel/safety to keep Rudolph from exploiting the middle of the field now to be vacated by the absence of Urlacher. (Side note: the Bears have used Briggs and Roach far more over the middle this year than in previous years due to the limitations on Brian's legs.)
- If Christian Ponder were a read option quarterback, I'd take the Vikings to win.
As the week has progressed I've started to believe the Bears are going to deliver a big effort in Minnesota Sunday. I think there will be a testiness about the defense and a take charge nature about the offense. And if Earl Bennett catches the damn football Sunday I believe we were primed to see a 300+, 3 or 4 TD effort from Jay Cutler.
Chicago Bears 30, Minnesota Vikings 13