The task sounds impossible. The Bears. The defense, the offense, the special teams. They are a great team. The Vikings haven't won a road game on grass in a while, or a game in the Windy City in longer. Even if Cutler sits, if memory serves both Jason Campbell and Josh McCown have been deadly against Minnesota's Cover-2 defense. Devin Hester always gets ready to play the Vikings. Even if we manage a slight lead, Mike Tice will unveil a trick play or something to give the Bears offense a lift. Even if Randy Moss can't flip it to Moe Williams, Mike Tice will be holding multiple tricks up his sleeve on game day.
Beating the Bears is not impossible. It's within reach for the Vikings. The key is for the Vikings to unveil a couple of new wrinkles to gain the upper hand.
On offense, the Vikings have underutilized offensive threats just waiting to be called on. Toby Gerhart could start on most NFL teams, and yet he can't get on the field. John Carlson is now healthy at the right time, and it is time to put him to work. Harvin might be able to return to the playing field, and if so, Ponder may be spreading the ball around to the Vikings' receivers, and may even air it out to the champion Gator. Adding a couple of new wrinkles to the offense is key. Get the offense rolling, and keep it rolling. Keep the Bears defense off balance.
When they are on defense, the Vikings have a tough test, regardless of whether Cutler sees the field. If he does play, he can pick the Vikings apart with all his receivers. If he doesn't play, it will be Campbell or Josh McCown -- with a track record of success against the Vikings so far - and the ability to run the ball all over the backfield and up the field.
The Vikings defense is just not designed to stop a physically gifted quarterback. It's time to fix that. The Vikings' four losses have all come against fleet-footed signal callers: Andrew Luck, Josh Freeman, Robert Griffith, and Russell Wilson. The wins have all come against stationary QBs: Blaine Gabbert, Alex Smith, Matt Hasselbeck, John Skelton, and Matthew Stafford.
When the Vikings face a mobile quarterback, the Vikings must start adjusting to the threat. The Vikings are normally very aggressive in the pass rush, running numerous stunts, and letting Jared Allen run wild. The Vikings just can't make that work for a mobile quarterback.
Against mobile quarterbacks, the defensive ends have to stay home, push the offensive tackles into the quarterback, get their hands up, contain the quarterback to a pocket, and collapse the pocket. We can't have Jared Allen flying up out of the play against a mobile quarterback, as he will just step to the position Allen abandoned, buy time, and throw a completion or run for excessive yardage. The defensive tackles need to push the pile, get their hands up, and collapse the pocket. This isn't a sexy defense, but it's the only way for the Vikings to consistently stop mobile quarterbacks from tearing them up. Against stationary quarterbacks, we still unleash the berserkers, business as usual.
On special teams, it is all coming down to execution. That in turn, comes down to practice and preparation.We know what the Bears want to do. We just have to stop them. They might throw in a trick play, but so could any other team.
The Vikings can pull the upset here, and if they do, they could be tied for first in the division.