So the Bears move on from their Monday Night Mayhem to a Sunday Showdown with reality, and a rude awakening to just how tough the division they play in really is - with a loss today, they can fall to third place in the division at 7-4 (which would lead the NFC East and AFC West, pending tiebreakers and the Broncos' outcome), and with a win, they can maintain their (tiebreaker-losing) tie with the Packers or retake the division lead. But the navy and orange get a kick in the backside today with the return of Jay Cutler, who according to Jason LaCanfora yesterday has passed his concussion protocols and will start. Shea McClellin will play as well, but that seems to get lost in the shuffle when the starting quarterback comes back from the same injury.
They're not facing bums, though - the Vikings at 6-4 started out really hot behind Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Christian Ponder's good play, but Ponder's not-as-good play and a suddenly-leaky defense have contributed to the Vikings losing three of their last five, allowing thirty points in all three losses. But they did take down the Lions 34-24, so it's not all bad in Twinkie Town.
Speaking of last week, last week was the first time in six games the Vikings haven't given up at least two turnovers, and also the first time all season the Bears didn't come up with a takeaway. You can bet the Bears aren't happy about that.
Some gameday linkage to whet your appetites...
Jay Cutler expected to start on Sunday - So I get the impression that Cutler cleared his tests. Awesome.
ESPN Chicago's Nuts and Bolts - In case you needed another preview.
Managing offensive line options: Go back to what you already had?
I'm pretty sure Pro Football Weekly doesn't get offensive line changes - we know these aren't permanent cure-alls. Unless it's written in sarcasm-font. In which case well played, gentlemen.
The season's on the line in the next three games: Yes, a five-game losing streak would, um, suck. For anything and everything. But yes, even I understand that you have to get to Week 15 for it to matter.
And of course, check out Spongie's meticulously-maintained Bears Den for plenty of other news leading into the game.
The Weather Forecast looks like Bear Weather. 34 degrees, partly cloudy.
Where to Watch:
America! - You're on FOX today. Generally, if you're not in the northwest or southeast, you're good.
Canada - Check over here.
UK - The BBC has you covered.
And everywhere else - Well, right here.
Bears: QB Josh McCown; WR Alshon Jeffery; WR Dane Sanzenbacher; OL James Brown; DT Matt Toeaina; DL Amobi Okoye; DL Cheta Ozougwu
Vikings: QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson; WR Percy Harvin; CB Brandon Burton; LB Audie Cole; OL Mark Asper; TE Allen Reisner; DE D'Aundre Reed
Kickoff today is at noon, so that's when the first thread will pop, with subsequent threads showing up as the game progresses right here in the Bears/Vikings StoryStream. (Nifty, huh?) The insta-recap will be up immediately following the game, with a late/night game thread for you as well.