For the first time this season, the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings will face off in a game with major playoff implications.
The Bears just lost the division lead last week, and sit at 7-3 with the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings aren't far behind at 6-4, and a win today would really put the Bears in a heap of trouble. Chicago has history on their side, having won the past five meetings, but with their offensive line is disarray, anything can happen to their offense.
Key for the Vikings
The Vikings best offense player is Adrian Peterson. There's no question about it. Getting him the ball — and getting him the ball often — are essential if they plan to win this game.
If they took notes from the San Francisco 49ers game last week, you see that gaping running lanes appear against the Tampa-2 defense when there are multiple tight ends on the field. This game plan would really suit the Vikings this week as they are without star wide receiver Percy Harvin.
The Vikings' roster features four tight ends, and this is the game to use them. The more bodies up front, the more likely Peterson can get into the second and third levels of the defense. Anyone who has watched Peterson run since he entered the league in 2007 knows that when he gets to that level, chances are he's taking the ball to the end zone.
He leads the NFL with 1,128 yards and is tied for second with seven rushing touchdowns. If the Vikings run this game plan against the Bears today, he should improve upon those numbers and the team should come away with a victory.
Key for the Bears
Figure out the O-line.
If we learned one thing last week about the Chicago Bears, it's that unless they figure out their offensive line, they aren't going anywhere in the playoffs — if they make it. Jay Cutler started to receive props throughout the league for standing behind that line week after week, and winning seven games in the process.
Jason Campbell looked like a lost puppy against the 49ers, and was sacked six times.
Spencer started the first two games for Chicago this year, before being benched in favor of Rachal.
Scott, is a six-year NFL veteran, who has started 28 games in his career for the Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Jonathan has played good football in his career," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. "He has been mostly a career backup. He has started. He started against Denver last year in the playoffs, and we've been playing him a little bit at tight end, trying to get him in there and get his legs underneath him, and see what he can do. He's done a solid job for us."
Carimi, on the other hand, has allowed seven sacks to date, and more often than not, the quarterback has been under duress as a result of poor blocking at the hands of Carimi. In fact, we said earlier in the year that Carimi was the biggest fan of J'Marcus Webb's struggles because it took the focus off him. Now that Webb has played a little better, the spotlight was on Carimi, and he's now on the bench.
The moves on the O-line are a start for Chicago, but we have to see results. The running game has been quiet as of late, and the Minnesota Vikings are a team Chicago needs to get that going against. They've been very poor against the run as of late, and if the "new" O-line for the Bears can't create running lanes for Matt Forte, it could be an ugly end of the season for the Bears.
Luckily for them, Jay Cutler is back and can bail them out on occasion. But if the team wants to keep Cutler around, the line must protect him better than they did prior to his injury.
Prediction: Bears win because Cutler makes some plays, 24-13.
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