As the Bears close out the season on Sunday, keep in mind that the Bears, having secured their worst record since 2004, with a win over the Vikings can at least stay out of the division basement alone. That's not quite the consolation I was hoping it was, because this year has been far more disappointing than even the most pessimistic Bears fan could have predicted.
Either way, let's get to a much-delayed holiday edition of Ugh, You Again. I had a good holiday with the family out on vacation, I hope you all had a good holiday as well.
|Total Points:||312 (20th)||334 (14th)|
|Total Yardage:||4,737 (26th)||5,251 (15th)|
|Passing Yardage:||3,054 (27th)||3,407 (8th)|
|Rushing Yardage:||1,683 (15th)||1,844 (25th)|
So what's changed?:
Nothing, really. Both teams, still pretty bad. Although in the Vikings' case, losing a top weapon creates a reason for a team to be bad. The Vikings still managed to figure out how to run the ball halfway well, which makes sense, because bringing Teddy Bridgewater along with a running game works out a little better than just throwing him out there as the main option.
So in the absence of changes to discuss on the Vikings' end, let's talk statistical anomalies, because the last few weeks are really showing a few between these teams.
The Vikings may just have found their stride in the last four weeks - three of their games saw them top the 30-point marks, a mark that through 16 games the Bears still have not topped. Even breaching 20 points has proven to be a chore, as it's a number the Bears have only topped once in the last four games (three in the last six if you count 21-point outings against Minnesota in round one and Tampa Bay). The Bears also have not topped 300 yards of total offense in three of the last four weeks; the Vikings have passed 350 yards in their last three games.
However, the last two losses have come against the Lions (16-14) and the Dolphins (37-35), which goes to illustrate that having both a productive offense and a productive defense together help win games. You can lose a game allowing 16 points, and lose a game scoring 35 points.
Of course, you can also lose a game scoring less than 20 and allowing 40, but let's not talk about the Bears' losses too much.
In the five games since these two last played each other, the Vikings have turned the ball over in four of them - and of course, won the one they didn't (and the two-turnover game against the Jets, forcing three turnovers in those two victories). Meanwhile, in those last five games, the Bears have turned it over in each game, but eight turnovers in the last four games equals four losses, despite forcing five in those same games.
Six-Pack Keys to Victory
Basically, Six Keys would be a duplicate post, so with UYA being run today as well, let's just list everything out now, starting with the keys we had last time, and we'll go from there:
1) Everson Griffen and the Vikings' Pass Rush
2) Jay Cutler (And every other facet of the Bears offense)
3) Teddy Bridgewater
4) Cordarelle Patterson
5) Greg Jennings
6) Jerick McKinnon
So let's go through and add one or two.
1) Jared Allen (and the Willie Young-less Pass Rush)
Or maybe it's the Rest and the Youngless? Who knows. Anyway, Jared Allen takes on his old team for the second time, this time in Minnesota, and he's the last one standing of the Bears' big three defensive line acquisitions, as Willie Young tore his Achilles last week, and of course Lamarr Houston's sack dance injury. So if anything, this is the week to showcase David Bass, Cornelius Washington, Trevor Scott, and the newly re-signed Austen Lane as the Bears look to see who should come back next year.
2) No, really, offense...
It would be very Bears to get some good offensive production out of the last game of the season when it hasn't come all year. But at this point, it would be very nice to at least see a little bit out of the players that will be here next year (Alshon Jeffery, Marquess Wilson, et cetera) and maybe some out of the players that there's a chance they could be back or not coming back (Jay Cutler, Matt Forte - if the Bears wanted to remove Forte's cap number). I'd rather see David Fales for this final game, but that's neither here nor there.