Last week, as the St. Louis Rams were racking up 258 rushing yards on the game I saw several people on Twitter speculate that Adrian Peterson could run for 300 yards against the Bears this week. While that hopefully will not be the case, the fact that the Bears are giving up an average of 145.2 yards per game to their opposition in the running game does not bode well.
In the first game against the Bears back in week two Peterson ran for an even 100 yards. However that was still when Henry Melton, Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams and Nate Collins were still manning the middle of the defense. Since then, those four players have all been lost to injury.
So has cornerback Charles Tillman, who has proved to be a key player against the run in his career.
The Bears have allowed seven opposing backs to rush for 100 yards this season, including in the last four consecutive games. The last time a back didn't have 100 yards against the Bears was in week eight against the Redskins and Alfred Morris came darn close, finishing with 95 yards, but Roy Helu added 41 yards and three touchdowns so the under the century mark didn't mean much.
The last time an opponent had less than 100 yards as a team was in week five, when New Orleans finished with 64 team rushing yards.
Adrian Peterson, in his career, has certainly dominated the Bears but perhaps not as much as you would think. In his 11 career games against the Bears Peterson averages 107.7 yards and, while robust, he averages 117.7 against the Packers (14 games) and 104.8 against the Lions (12 games). However, he has his highest amount of career touchdowns against the Bears (14) than any other opponent.
Peterson's most successful game against the Bears came in his first career game against them back in 2007, when he ran for an opponent-record 224 yards and three TDs in a 34-31 win. Not that you want to remember, but he also returned a kick late in the game off a squib that set up the winning field goal. It was the last time the Bears surrendered three rushing TDs to a single back until Helu earlier this year.
Since that game he's topped 100 yards against the Bears five times, including the last three times. The last time Peterson was contained to less than 100 yards was in week six of 2011 when the Bears beat down the Vikings on Sunday night football 39-10. To give that game a little more perspective, Donovan McNabb started the game, it was Christian Ponder's first appearance as a Viking, Devin Hester returned a kick for a touchdown and caught a TD pass and Dane Sanzenbacher also caught a TD. If that doesn't feel like ages ago in the NFL world, Marion Barber also poached a TD from Matt Forte inside the five.
All told, it's been a while since the Bears contained Peterson. It's been a while since the Bears contained any opposing running back.
So there is a chance for All Day to have a record-setting day against the Bears. As stated earlier, Peterson holds the record for rushing yards by an opponent with 224. He is averaging 20.5 rushing attempts per game this year but received 32 against the Packers last week (in a game that went to overtime). The record for attempts by an opponent is 39, held by Jerome Bettis who set the mark back in 1994 when he played for the Rams. The longest run for a Bears opponent is 97 yards for a touchdown by Bobby Gage in 1949, although more recently Javid Best had an 88-yard TD run in 2011. The Bears have allowed three 40+ yard runs this year and 12 25+ yard runs.
Purple Jesus set the NFL single-game mark just three weeks after his 224 yard mark against Chicago, when he rushed for 296 yards against the Chargers, in the Metrodome. Twincities.com reports that Peterson needs 154 yards to reach 10,000 career yards and if he did it Sunday he would be the sixth-youngest and third fastest to reach the 10k plateau. Not that he needs more motivation going against a porous defense...
A.P. is second in the league with 997 yards and leads the league with 10 rushing scores. While he has seen fewer carries and yards at home this season versus the road (91 attempts inside the Metrodome versus 135 on the road and 572 road yards to 425), he has more TDs in the dome (6 to 4). He has only one 100 yard game at home this season but expect that to change Sunday.
The Bears haven't allowed an opponent to run for over 300 yards as a team since the Vikings in that 2007 match up. The Vikings have the 11th best rushing attack in the league and Toby Gerhart has seen his carries increase in recent weeks; last week he received eight carries and rushed for 91 yards.
So expect the Vikings to run the ball early and often. Until the Bears prove that they can tackle and slow down an opponents' running game, especially one with as questionable of a passing game as the Vikings have, expect that to be the norm.
The Bears will likely load the box to try to slow down Peterson but I expect him to have a big game, and he could easily push against some of the franchise marks I have noted in this post. Things could get ugly Sunday and it's going to be up to the Bears offense to keep the Vikings on the sideline and keep the Bears in the game.
What do you expect to see from the Bears rushing defense come Sunday?