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Vikings @ Bears, Open Thread

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Soldier Field
Chicago, Illinois

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th+OT F
Vikings 7 7 7 13 34
Bears 7 7 0 17 31


Minnesota Stat Chicago
135 ypg (8th) Rush Offense 82.6 ypg (27th)
178.2 ypg (27th) Pass Offense 171 ypg (28th)
313.2 ypg (20th) Total Offense 253.6 ypg (30th)
16.8 ppg (24th) Scoring Offense 17.4 ppg (22nd)
62 ypg (1st) Rush Defense 98.8 ypg (12th)
266.8 ypg (30th) Pass Defense 246 ypg (26th)
328.8 ypg (18th) Total Defense 344.8 ypg (23rd)
14.8 ppg (5th) Scoring Defense 23.0 ppg (21th)

Well, I didn't have to show you the stats to tell you that there probably isn't going to be a whole lot of offense on display this afternoon at Soldier Field.  Both of these teams rank in the bottom half of the league in most offensive categories, and don't let the stats for the Bears' defense fool you.  They had a couple of bad performances at the beginning of the season, but have really started to come together over the past couple of weeks, particularly in the second half of their victory over Green Bay last Sunday night.

I have a feeling that this game is pretty much going to come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes.  The Bears showed last week that they're much less prone to the big mistake with Brian Griese at the helm than they were with the Sex Cannon, Rex Grossman.  Meanwhile, the last time we saw Tarvaris Jackson, who will be returning at quarterback this afternoon for the Vikings, he was throwing four interceptions against a Detroit defense that out-and-out sucks when it comes to defending the pass.  I'm sure that Chicago will be loading up the box in an effort to slow down Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, and they'll try to make Jackson beat them through the air.  The Bears also have a few key injuries, but Lovie Smith will certainly have his defense ready for this one.

When possession changes, look for the Bears to attack the Vikings the same way almost every other team has. . .with short, quick passes and trying to exploit the middle of the field with their outstanding tight end combo of Desmond Clark and rookie Greg Olsen (who still can't block worth a damn).  I wouldn't get too worried about Cedric Benson finally showing up against the Williams boys and company on defense.  The Vikings' game plan will be similar to Chicago's in that they'll attempt to make the quarterback beat them, but they shouldn't have to load the box nearly as much to be able to do so.  Oh, and if there are any balls kicked anywhere near Devin Hester this afternoon, someone needs to be fired.

This is it, folks. . .the game that's probably going to give us the best indicator of how the rest of the year is going to go.  A make or break game, if you will.  Unfortunately, if it's going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes. . .as much as I love Tarvaris Jackson, I can't honestly give him the edge in such a situation until he proves that he can do it.  In a Daily Norseman rarity, I'm going to have to go against the beloved Purple in this one.  It's not going to be pretty, either.

Gonzo's Final Score Prediction:  Bears 16, Vikings 10

I'd be ecstatic over a victory, but I won't be surprised by a loss.  By the by, my comments this afternoon will be a little scarce.  I've been putting off/neglecting my homework all weekend, and I have to get caught up on it while the game is on here.  Everyone else can feel more than free to throw some comments of their own up there, however.