The Bears take on the Vikings in similar straits as their prior matchup - tough loss against the NFC West and with the Packers all over them. Can the Bears get a similar result?
Yes, in Windy City Gridiron tradition, we slightly flip the script for the repeat matchups here on PTMY, since a lot of the same stuff you'd read here would be stuff from the same piece written before - and in this case, just two weeks ago. But let's go ahead and bring you up to speed on our pillaging, plundering, and territory-mongering neighbors to the northwest.
Since Our Last Meeting: Well, they only played one game since our last matchup, and that was a loss to the Packers where Adrian Peterson still completely went off. So right now, they're 6-6 and still third in the NFC North.
Total Yardage: 22nd (-8)
Total Points: 18th (-4)
Passing Yardage: 32nd (-2)
Rushing Yardage: 3rd (+/- 0)
Total Yardage: 13th (+/- 0)
Total Points: 18th (-5)
Passing Yardage: 14th (+2)
Rushing Yardage: 14th (+/- 0)
So What's New? Well, Percy Harvin's out, again, with his ankle injury, so... Who does Christian Ponder attempt to throw it to (assuming he can hit a target at this point)? Kyle Rudolph is really the only name that comes to mind, and that's just about it - after Harvin, the next leading wide receiver in receptions is Michael Jenkins with 30. Jarius Wright's going to attempt to fill Harvin's place in the offense, but this is not a strong receiving corps by any stretch.
I'll have to admit, Ponder has been nothing short of miserable the last few weeks - but was his development sort of skewed by Donovan McNabb's general ineffectiveness and attempt to spark the team? He wasn't really a great developmental prospect, more like a safer pick with a decent-enough ceiling, but it's not like he was a finished product like Brandon Weeden either. Maybe he could have used a little more time sitting before he jumped on the field.
Know who's not a developmental prospect? Adrian Peterson, who is still running like a damn man. He's been getting more fullback help as noted in the last PTMY's comments section, but that doesn't take away that he's been hitting his gaps with burst and taking them long distances.
The Bears held Jared Allen off the sack column last time, but Allen still made his presence felt - does he get back on tract in the Rollerdome? He's questionable with a neck injury as of this writing and has missed practice, but 13 of his career sacks have come against the Bears, and 66 of those at home. Since 2008, when he became a Viking, he's picked up 42 sacks in home games, as well as all of those 13 sacks. So yeah, the Bears held him off the score sheet last time, but he'd want to get back on there, I'd think. Brian Robison would be expected to fill the gap, but he hasn't been on the sack sheet for three games himself.
The Bears have had some of their own issues to worry about. Earl Bennett won't be around for this one, but the Bears get Alshon Jeffery off the Rotating Injured Receiver Roulette, so he'll be back lining up at the number two receiver, along with Devin Hester. Defensive back Tim Jennings will probably be sidelined with his shoulder injury, but Kelvin Hayden will step in there. Unfortunately, there isn't really a true replacement for Brian Urlacher, but Nick Roach will move to the MLB spot, and at least on a speed level Roach will be a little better than a guy that's been hampered by his knee all year.
So the basic takeaways remain the same as they did for the first matchup - keep Jared Allen and Brian Robison off Jay Cutler, find a way to slow down Adrian Peterson, and get run and pass penetration with the defensive line, and this should be in the Bears' pocket - the Bears haven't allowed Minnesota to score more than 14 points in the last five games. But Peterson is better in the dome than out at Soldier Field, and coming off a 210-yard day, you know he's capable of going off at any time.