A little later than usual, but we have our opportunity for everyone to call their shots for tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
As always, we have our widget from our friends at The Crowd’s Line for everyone to make their predictions on.
With the Vikings coming off of their worst performance of the season last week in Philadelphia, they’ll be looking to exact some revenge on their NFC North rivals. The Vikings have won three straight in this series, and are looking for their first back-to-back victories at Soldier Field since 1999 and 2000.
The most important thing that the Vikings need to do in this one, as we saw last week, is keep Chicago’s defenders off of Sam Bradford’s back. Bradford was sacked six times by the Eagles last weekend, and the Vikings’ offense couldn’t get into any sort of a rhythm until it didn’t matter. For some reason, Norv Turner chose to abandon the short, quick passing game that had worked for the Vikings early on in favor of longer drops, and the Minnesota offensive line wasn’t up to the task. If the Vikings want to walk out of Soldier Field with a win in this one, they’re going to have to give Bradford time to make throws. The Bears have dealt with some injuries in their secondary, and the Minnesota offense should be able to take advantage if Bradford has time.
As far as the Vikings’ defense is concerned, they’ll be dealing with a returning Jay Cutler, who hasn’t played since Week 2 with a thumb injury. While we all like to razz Cutler because of his attitude and demeanor, he’s a pretty solid step up from Matt Barkley or whatever other warm body the Bears could run out there in his place following Brian Hoyer’s injury. The Minnesota pass rush, which has gone without a quarterback sack in two of the last three games, will have to get back into form in this one. The book on Cutler has generally been that if you can hit him a few times and rattle him a bit, he’ll start to make some bad throws and force the issue. Chicago has had some offensive line issues of their own, and this could be an opportunity for Everson Griffen and company to get themselves back on the right track.
Soldier Field has been a bit of a house of horrors over the years for the Vikings, which makes it kind of appropriate that this one will happen on Halloween night. With the Vikings having come off of a pretty bad performance last week, I’d be quite hesitant to project a Mike Zimmer-coached team to put together two terrible performances in a row. The Bears might be the opportunity the Vikings need to right the proverbial ship, and I think they’ll get the job done. . .but it won’t be easy.
Vikings 21, Bears 17 to put the Vikings back into the mix with Dallas for the top spot in the NFC and give them a 2.5-game cushion over the rest of the NFC North.
Who ya got in this one, ladies and gentlemen?