The Bears swept the season series against the Vikings last year. Defeating them 40-14 in Week 15 to win the NFC North.
Looking up at the Packers and Lions at 5-0, the Bears have to win this divisional match-up against the Vikings.
Since 2003, the Bears are 7-1 against the Vikings. The home team has won 15 of the last 18 games.
In six career games against the Vikings, Bears RB Matt Forte has rushed 109 times for 414 yards and one touchdown.
Forte is averaging 5.4 ypc and is the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage with 785. It all starts with a solid running game for the Bears and Forte needs to get going early.
Cutler is coming off his most impressive game of the season last week against the Lions posting a QB rating of 99.6. The Bears need to take advantage of Antoine Winfield’s absence in the Vikings secondary.
The Bears wide receivers could be in line for a good day if Cutler can take advantage of his opportunities. Johnny Knox and Devin Hester have had some success against Minnesota in the past.
It all starts up front with the offensive line for the Bears. Cutler needs time to make a play, last week against the Lions he was getting pressured on basically every play.
Using FB Tyler Clutts for protection has helped the offense out, so expect to see him on the field a little more than usual.
Lance Louis will take over at right tackle and Chris Spencer will return to the lineup at right guard. Rookie tackle Gabe Carimi is still out with a knee injury.
Cutler showed he can be a very good quarterback and with ample time to throw, this offense can be even better.
The defense on the other hand seems to be aging very fast. Brian Urlacher was furious last week after the loss to the Lions on Monday Night Football.
The defense needs to play much better then they have. The defensive line is failing to get much pressure, the linebackers haven’t been in the right gaps and the secondary is constantly getting burned for one big play each game.
Defensive end Julius Peppers is going to try to play, but he is listed as doubtful. If Peppers is able to play, he likely won’t be able to last the entire game. Peppers hasn’t missed a game since 2007.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton has practiced all week at defensive end and will move into Peppers spot at defensive end. Amobi Okoye and Anthony Adams will start at defensive tackle.
Nick Reed, Mario Addison and Stephen Paea will all be part of the rotation on the line.
The secondary will see a lot of changes as well. Bears head coach Lovie Smith decided to bench veterans Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweather earlier this week in favor of inexperienced safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte.
The thinking here is that Conte and Wright are more athletic. Harris didn’t seem to pleased with the demotion, but he understands the unit has been underachieving.
The Bears defense will have to watch out for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson has had some of his best games in his career against the Bears.
In seven career games against Chicago, Peterson has rushed for over 700 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Bears were able to contain Peterson in the Week 15 match-up last season, limiting him to 51 yards on 17 carries.
Peterson scorched the Arizona Cardinals with three touchdowns last week, so shutting down the running game is a must.
The Vikings are a run first team and Donovan McNabb isn’t the same quarterback that he used to be, so the Bears will have eight men in the box more often than none.
Players Who Must Step Up:
1) Amobi Okoye- He will be making his first start ever as a Bear. Its important for him and the rest of defensive line to bring constant pressure on Donovan McNabb. Okoye could be in line for a good day, considering he is one of the most athletic players on the line.
Prediction: Five tackles, two sacks.
2) Charles Tillman- He is the most consistent players on this defense. He is tied for third on the team in tackles with 31 and has forced two fumbles this season. He hasn’t had an interception just yet this season, but tonight could change that. Look for Tillman to have a best game of the year tonight.
Prediction: Six tackles, one interception
3) Dane Sanzenbacher- He has been very good so far this season for an undrafted free agent. He leads all Bears receivers with two touchdowns and could be looked for in the red zone tonight.
Prediction: Four catches, 31 yards, one touchdown.
Bears 30, Vikings 16.
Expect the weather to be partly cloudy in the lower 50′s at Soldier Field tonight. It could be a windy night, with gusts of 16 mph possible.