It's a beautiful fall day today, and I am just hanging out at work because nobody golfs in mid-October. I wanted to write up a preview section for this game as I am working tomorrow 1- close and may not see the game in it's entirety, though I will still be doing a follow-up on it. We have a big game tomorrow, at least as big as one can get when your division is occupied by the only two undefeated teams left in the NFL and you aren't one of them. The last time we saw these Bears, they were using the ol' Dongslinger Brett Favre's head as a basketball on that cushy TCF Bank Stadium turf, as I believe @ChrisWarcraft described it. Devin Hester also ran back a punt right past said punter, and the game was pretty much a complete bust other than being the first outdoor Vikings home game in the past 20 years.
This week, I believe there are some reasons for optimism:
- The Bears have allowed the third-most sacks in the league (18).
- Minnesota is tied for second in the league with 16 sacks, and all but one have come from the defensive line.
- The Bears are surrendering an NFL-worst 5.7 yards per carry.*
- Donovan McNabb is from the Chicago area, and is 5-1 all time against the Bears.*
- Offenses are basically even, with the Bears favoring the pass and the Vikings favoring the rush more, the Vikings giving up only 75 yards a game on the ground while the Bears are giving up 135 per game.
- A fourth straight victory over Minnesota would give Chicago its longest streak since a series-best six-game run Dec. 11, 1983-Oct. 5, 1986*
- The Bears have benched RT Frank Omiyale for the game after he got manhandled by Cliff Avril on MNF and the line committed 9 false start penalties. They are also benching both safeties for a 2nd year player and a rookie.
- Julius Peppers did not practice Friday and is listed as doubtful on the injury report. Considering he has destroyed the Vikings our past two matchups, this is great news.
Though all of the above reasons make me believe it is likely we will see a win for the Purple on Sunday Night, there are a few counterweights:
- Jay Cutler, who has thrown for 13 TDs in his five games against the Vikings. Kevin Kolb could have easily had 3 TD's on us last week, one got called back after a penalty, and he sailed a line drive over a wide open Jeff King in the end zone as well. Cutler will not make those same mistakes.
- *Donovan McNabb. The veteran quarterback's completion percentage (56.8) and yards per attempt (6.43) both rank 27th in the league.
- *The Bears have held AP under 100 yards in their past 2 meetings.
- *The Bears have beaten us in 3 straight meetings.
- Antoine Winfield will be out for the game and E.J. Henderson will only see limited action.
- Devin Hester always seems to have at least one big return on us. Our special teams coverage units have been outstanding thus far, but if Hester touches the ball there is always a decent chance he houses it. Since I am a huge Miami Hurricane fan, it sucks that Hester is playing for my most hated rival team. I cannot help but cheer for him though, because he is absolutely one of the most, if not the most explosive and electric player in the league. (Maybe 2nd most, behind Purple Jesus)
Prediction: Vikings 28, Bears 24.
Every time we play the Bears it is a tough contest that seems to come down to one of the last possessions, save last year's 40-14 shellacking at Soldier Field. Chicago looks a little out of sorts after Jay Cutler spent 4 quarters running for his life on MNF, and they are coming off of a short week. It will take a big game from our ends, who so far this season have been up to the task, as well as our running game. If we can limit Devin Hester in the return game, slow down Matt Forte (namely on screens, our rush D is solid), and sustain drives with some decent passing gains to keep 8 men out of the box, this should be a victory.Last week's game gives me hope that AP may go extra-beast mode and drop one of his patented 200 yard games this week on his Wheelz of Steel. Let's hope so, since he also is on my fantasy squad. Here's a little Outkast for you on my way out. Enjoy the game, and SKOL!