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The Bears have won three straight road games and four straight home games. For whatever reason this team plays up or down to its opponents. It stays close and loses to a team like Denver but then turns around and drop games to the last two teams in the league without road wins.
So goes the 2015 Bears season. The team is still trying to find its way, find its core and, perhaps most notably, learn how to close out and finish games.
The Bears are, like it or not, four incomplete Aaron Rodgers passes from inside the 10 yard line from losing four straight games. Thankfully they aren't and I am not intending to start another "Well they're six plays from 9-4" war in the comments but the reality is the team, for all its improvement, has been on the wrong end of close games. It happens to a lot of young, rebuilding teams.
Next up is the Vikings who hold the inverse of Chicago's record at 8-5 and defeated the Bears on Nov. 1 23-20 in a come from behind win. In case you forgot how painful the end of that game was, since the team has lost a couple of other close games recently, go check out the win probability chart at pro-football-reference.com right here.
With 6:26 left in the four quarter Chicago held a 90.20 percent win chance and with just 2:12 left had an 83.97 advantage. That late collapse was every bit as bad as the cluster of the 49ers and Washington games.
This is going to be a tougher game than the last one, in my opinion because Minnesota has much more to play for than Chicago and has lost two straight. Their defense is a little banged up but they still have Adrian Peterson.
What did the Bears learn from the first game that they can use to hopefully get the upset on Sunday?
Eddie Goldman, DT - Goldman has been coming on strong the past few games registering six tackles and three sacks in the last four games. Slowing down the Vikings starts with slowing down Adrian Peterson and with Jonathan Anderson and Shea McClellin not playing as strongly recently it will be up to Goldman and the defensive line to really get through the offensive line of the Vikings and engage the blockers so that the LBs can make plays. Furthermore, the Vikings have allowed 38 sacks, the seventh most in the league, so Goldman should have some chances to get after Teddy Bridgewater.
Kyle Fuller, CB - The Vikings' pass offense is second-to-last in the league with 189.7 yards per game and they rank dead last in touchdown passes with nine. The Vikings pass offense was non-existent in their first meeting until late in the game when Stefan Diggs was suddenly behind the defense and helped bring them back. The Bears rank second in the league in pass defense and Fuller has been playing well of late. There can be no blown coverages on Diggs or Mike Wallace. The DBs as a whole need to play well but I'm counting on Fuller to lead the pack this week.
Alshon Jeffery, WR - Everyone knows what Jeffery can do when he is healthy. He has also made a habit of beating up on the Vikings. Against the Vikings he averages 6.5 catches for 100.3 yards. He's scored five TDs against them as well. These are all his best numbers for any divisional opponent. The Bears rank 25th in redzone TD scoring according to teamrankings.com and have struggled mightily at times to finish drives with touchdowns instead of field goals. Jeffery is the team's best redzone target, although he is closely followed by Zach Miller who actually leads the team in TD catches. Still I think it will be up to Jeffery to have a big game and help the offense put points on the board.
Which players are you eyeing to have a big game Sunday?