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Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings - Game Preview

Minnesota Vikings (6-5) vs. Chicago Bears (6-5)
7:15 CST @ Metrodome
Know Thy Enemy: Daily Norseman

It goes without saying that this is a must-win game for the Bears. A win in Minneapolis gives the regular-season series tiebreaker to the Bears and drastically hurts the Vikings' chances of an NFC North title, especially with a gauntlet of tough games ahead of them (@ Arizona, Atlanta, and NY Giants). Compounding the Vikings' problems, the NFL should rule next week as to the status of the Williams boys. If Goodell suspends them for four games, their vaunted run defense loses two essential members, and the tough schedule just got a whole lot tougher. Make sure to join us on the WCG game threads Sunday night!

Mike Brown & Jamar Williams - Probable
Jason McKie, Desmond Clark & Marty Booker - Questionable
Darrell McClover, Fred Miller, Brandon McGowan & Zachary Bowman - Out

Surprising to see Orton isn't on this list. Either he's totally healthy now or Lovie's crew is trying to pull a Belichick and be sneaky about his progress. Regardless, the Vikings have a dominant front four, so we'll find out early in the game as to his true status.

Jamar Williams was the only person on the list that practiced on Friday. No idea what Booker's problem is.

Jared Allen & Madieu Williams - Probable
Vinny Ciurciu, David Herron, Artis Hicks & Garrett Mills - Questionable
Letroy Guion - Doubtful

Thanks to Gonzo (Daily Norseman) for the following:

All of the players listed on the injury report above had limited participation in practice with the exception of Letroy Guion, who didn't participate in practice at all and won't play on Sunday night anyway.

Artis Hicks is playing with a brace on his elbow, and is a 50/50 proposition to start tomorrow night. Hicks apparently injured the elbow way back in Week 1 and has been playing with the injury all season with varying degrees of pain. If it's decided that he can't go this week, Ryan Cook will be back committing false starts and giving up sacks at crucial times at right tackle.

Madieu Williams and Jared Allen will be out there, to the surprise of nobody. As far as the rest of the folks on the questionable list, I'm guessing that Garrett Mills will be inactive again, but I can't get a read on either Herron or Ciurciu. I'm guessing that at least one of the two of them will be active.

Us or Them?

Points Scored: Us - 24.3 (T-12th); Them - 23.0 (17th)
Pass Yards: Us - 199.5 (20th); Them - 183.5 (25th)
Rush Yards: Us - 116.9 (11th); Them - 137.9 (6th)

Points Allowed: Us - 21.3 (T-11th); Them - 22.4 (19th)
Pass Yards: Us - 244.2 (30th); Them - 228.5 (22nd)
Rush Yards: Us - 80.7 (5th); Them - 70.4 (2nd)

For those of you keeping score at home, that's a 3-3 tie. As we can see, there's not a huge difference between the two teams.

We Got It

Like our beloved Bears, the Vikings are terrific at stopping the run. We poke fun (and sometimes yell) about our lack of passing D, yet the Vikings are just 16 yards away from being in our position. We need to establish some running lanes early for Forte to soften up their defense and attack with Orton, especially with the TE's. At the same time, Turner can't shy away from mixing in John Shoop routes (3-5 yard routes) to avoid the 3rd-and longs that always kill us.

They Got It

The Vikings have a tremendous opportunity to blow us out of the water. When they're on O, they have two options: 1) Beat it down our throat with AP or 2) dominate our weak pass D. The Bears have done well over the course of the season stopping the run (minus the GB game). If we can limit AP, we can force Frerotte to beat us through the air. We need to hope that our DL found their spark last week (and not just beat up on a terrible opponent) and hurry/sack Frerotte. Otherwise, it could be a long day when their offense takes the field.

Gotta Have It

ST. This is a game that we need good field position to force the Vikings into make mistakes (such as our last meeting). Force them to make mistakes, and good things will happen. A breakout game from Danieal Manning would be great, too.

Final Word

Normally I would be worried with the situation we're facing on Sunday. Adrian Peterson is a great back and Minnesota's front four is a force. But I'm (seriously) predicting a relatively easy Bears win. Why?

1) Minnesota's ST is not the greatest. If we can manage to get good field position all day and force them to drive the field, we're already at an advantage.

2) Our defense has been terrible against the pass, but pretty dominant against the run (minus GB). If we can limit AP, we make Frerotte beat us through the air.

3) I'm calling for a break-out game from Orton. Forte will be limited in his yards on the ground, so I expect Turner to pull something unexpected.

Bears 24, Vikings 17