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The Homestand Concludes



Date: 29 November 2009
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Time: 3:15 P.M. CST Stadium: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
DirecTV Ch. 712
Know Thy Enemy: Windy City Gridiron
Gonzo's Prediction: Vikings 34, Bears 20
Final Score: Vikings 36, Bears 10

Yes, the Vikings are playing the third game of the three-game homestand this afternoon. The Vikings will be looking to go to 10-1 at the expense of the Chicago Bears, who they'll be seeing for the first time this year. This is a bit unusual in that the Vikings are already done with both of their other NFC North rivals before seeing Chicago for the first time. However, it appears that the Beloved Purple are catching the Bears at a pretty good time, as Chicago looks to be in complete disarray, having dropped five of their last six after getting off to a 3-1 start. The Vikings, on the other hand, appear to be fighting on all cylinders and are trying to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. The Vikings could potentially find themselves in the driver's seat for home field with a win this weekend, as the Saints have a Monday night date with the always-tough New England Patriots. I believe that a loss by the Saints would drop them behind the Vikings in that race, but I would have to double-check to be 100% sure.

So, what are the keys to victory this afternoon at the Metrodome?

1) Get the running game going early - It's been rumored that AP has been battling the flu this week, as well as an ankle injury. We don't like to deal in rumors, however, and the fact is that Adrian Peterson, quite frankly, owns the Chicago Bears. In four career games against Chicago, Peterson has averaged about 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns/game, moving the ball at a 6.3 yards/carry clip. The Bears haven't been particularly good at defending the run this year against anybody (23rd in the NFL, 122.3 ypg allowed), and they haven't seen a whole lot of backs the caliber of Adrian Peterson. Even Chester Taylor has put up some decent performances against the Bears over the past couple of years. In order to get the Bears off-balance, the Vikings need to establish the run early and let Brett Favre use the play-action pass to burn the Bears.

2) Get in Jay Cutler's face - Cutler has been a complete joke for Chicago through the first two games of the season. He has a league high 18 interceptions, which matches his total from last year (with six games remaining), and has been sacked 20 times, one more than Favre has for us. Part of the reason for this is that the Chicago offensive line has been just as abysmal. Orlando Pace has spent much of this season looking sloooooooooooow at offensive tackle, and Jared Allen has to be licking his chops at that matchup. Ray Edwards has stepped up his game considerably over the past couple weeks with teams devoting extra attention to Allen, and you can't forget the Irresistible Force and the Immovable Object in the middle of the defensive line. If the Vikings can get pressure with their front four and leave the back seven able to go back into coverage, it could be a very long day for the Chicago offense.

3) Don't get too fancy or cute - We've seen a couple of trick plays come out of the bag for the Vikings over the past couple of weeks, with varying degrees of success. To be brutally honest, beating the Bears shouldn't require that sort of trickery. Minnesota should be able to line up and beat the Bears heads-up without anything crazy taking place. Sure, you want to give other teams stuff to think about and all that good stuff, but the only way that the Vikings don't walk out of the Dome with a W today is if they beat themselves. If the Vikings don't give the Bears extra possessions, they should be able to win today's game relatively easily. The Vikings are currently tied for the NFL lead with only 10 turnovers through the first 10 games (and a +6 turnover margin). Chicago, on the other hand, has coughed the ball up more than twice as often (21 times), and sports a -3 turnover margin.

As usual, we're about an hour and a half ahead of game time here, folks. Here's hoping that you'll all join us for the best in-game discussion in the Vikings blogosphere, and here's to cheering the Vikings on to another victory.