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Bears vs. Vikings: Analyzing Minnesota's Defense for Week 12

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 1: The offense for the Chicago Bears lines up against the defense for the Minnesota Vikings  during the fourth quarter on January 1, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Bears defeated the Vikings 17-13. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Matt EurichAnalyst INovember 22, 2012

The Minnesota Vikings defense has been in the middle of the pack statistically. They are ranked 13th best in the league, giving up 340 yards of total offense per game and just two sacks away from being tied with the Bears for fifth most in the league.

For years, the defense has started up front for the Vikings, and 2012 has been no different. Jared Allen had a spectacular 2011 season in which he sacked the quarterback 22 times on his way to his first NFC Defensive Player of the Year award.

Allen has a relentless motor and can beat you with his bull rush or a spin move.  Bears tackle J'Marcus Webb knows firsthand about his abilities, having given up 3.5 sacks to Allen in their Week 17 matchup last season.

Webb will have to prove himself against Allen less than a week after surrendering three sacks on Monday Night Football and getting beaten consistently by Aldon Smith.

Brian Robison lines up opposite of Allen for the Vikings.  While he's not the same type of pass-rusher, he does have 5.5 sacks on the year and will give right tackle Gabe Carimi a handful.

The interior of the line is not vaunted as it was in years past, but Kevin Williams is still a difficult matchup for offensive linemen.  He will be giving center Roberto Garza and left guard Chilo Rachal fits all afternoon.

Letroy Guion is expected to return from a turf toe injury and reclaim his spot as the starter next to Williams. Guion is quick off the ball and is more of a pass-rusher than run-blocker, and the Bears would be wise to try to run Matt Forte in his direction.

Outside linebacker Chad Greenway continues to be a menace in the second level for the Vikings, who had led the NFL in tackles before their bye week.  He is great at getting to the ball-carrier and working his way through traffic to make a tackle, and his coverage skills have improved this season.  The Bears will need their fullback or one of their offensive linemen to make it to the second level to try to slow his path to the ball-carrier.

Both inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley and outside linebacker Erin Henderson are not flashy, but they get the job done. Brinkley has struggled a bit in pass coverage, and the Bears could try and match him up against a running back or tight end Kellen Davis to take advantage of his struggles. 

Often undervalued veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield is having yet another Pro Bowl-caliber season in Minnesota.  He will likely draw Brandon Marshall for the majority of the game due to an injury to Chris Cook that has forced the unproven A.J. Jefferson into the starting lineup. 

Winfield plays physically and has been good at stopping the run, but Marshall has proven all season long he can be just as physical as the opposing cornerback.

Rookie safety Harrison Smith has had his ups and downs at the free safety position, but much like Chris Conte last season, the Vikings essentially ask him to not get beaten deep.  He has been solid against the run but can be vulnerable in the passing game.

Both Mistral Raymond and Jamarca Sanford have seen time at the strong safety position and, much like Smith, have been solid against the run but can be vulnerable in the passing game.

 

Matt Eurich is a contributor to Bearsbacker.com. Follow Bears Backer on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute news about the Bears. Also, check out Matt’s work on BleacherReport.com and follow him on Twitter @MattEurich.

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