Chicago dropped its last two against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers in disappointing fashion. Last week's Monday night loss against the 49ers had potential to be a top game of the season but instead ended in as a laugher.
Jay Cutler was sidelined due to a concussion he sustained during the team's Week 10 loss against the Texans.
Despite that early-week optimism from Smith, Cutler still wasn't sure on Wednesday whether or not he'd be good to go.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Cutler said, according to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter):
Right off the bat, Jay Cutler is asked if he will play this weekend. "I don’t know. We’ll see."— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) November 21, 2012
When: Sunday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket Max
Listen (radio): KFAN 100.3 FM (Minnesota); CBS Chicago WBBM Newsradio 780AM & 105.9FM (Chicago)
Spread: Chicago -5 (via Covers)
The Bears will greatly benefit from the return of Jay Cutler behind center. He has the uncanny ability to operate, somehow, behind the porous Chicago offensive line. It isn't pretty, but Cutler finds a way to get it done.
If Cutler and the Bears offense can get things going against the inconsistent Vikings defense, the Bears could get up big in this one due to their ability to create points and scoring opportunities with their defense.
Go with the Bears by at least five points over the Vikings.
Over/Under: 41 (via Covers)
This game has the potential to be a very low-scoring affair. A lot has changed for the Minnesota Vikings since they were beat down by the Bears 39-10 at Soldier Field last October. A lot has stayed the same, though, too.
With Percy Harvin hobbled by an ankle injury and Michael Jenkins also questionable, the Vikes may find themselves without many options other than Adrian Peterson. A game like that screams low-scorer.
Twice this season Vikings' quarterback Christian Ponder has been held to under 100 yards passing. This week could be the third time.
Go with the under because the possibility for a defensive battle outweighs everything else in this one.
Injury Report via CBS Sports (as of 11/22/2012)
DE Jared Allen, Shoulder, Probable
WR Stephen Burton, Ankle, Probable
DT Letroy Guion, Foot, Questionable
WR Percy Harvin, Ankle, Questionable
WR Michael Jenkins, Foot, Questionable
RB Adrian Peterson, Ankle, Probable
CB Antoine Winfield, Knee, Questionable
LB Lance Briggs, Thumb, Probable
QB Jason Campbell, Ribs, Questionable
QB Jay Cutler, Concussion, Questionable
TE Kellen Davis, Ankle, Questionable
WR Alshon Jeffery, Knee, Out
WR Brandon Marshall, Shoulder, Questionable
DE Shea McClellin, Concussion, Probable
DT Stephen Paea, Shoulder, Questionable
DE Julius Peppers, Thigh, Probable
DT Matt Toeaina, Calf, Questionable
Fantasy Big Plays
Minnesota: RB Adrian Peterson
The Chicago Bears have been hurt on the ground over the past three weeks after not allowing a 100-yard rusher through the team's first seven games of the season. Tennessee, Houston and San Francisco have all put up over 100 yards, surrendering 17, 19 and 15 fantasy points to each of those team's respective running backs.
Adrian Peterson is the top rusher in the league and third overall in fantasy scoring. He's had great success against the Bears in the past, too, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and racking up 823 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight previous meetings.
Projected Stats: 28 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD; 3 receptions, 25 yards, 0 TD
Chicago: RB Matt Forte
Forte certainly isn't having the fantasy season that many dreamed of when picking him in the early rounds of their draft. Some cautioned at taking him due to the signing of Michael Bush in the offseason. That concern has been realized by Bush stealing some carries and touchdowns along the way this year.
However, Forte is still the featured back in this offense and will continue to get the ball in the short-passing game as well as out of the backfield. Minnesota has been gouged this season at times on the ground, making this the perfect breakout opportunity for the Bears' running back. It's a big game, and big-time players show up in these situations.
Projected Stats: 22 carries, 114 yards, 1 TD; 4 receptions 35 yards, 0 TD
Key to Victory
Bears D must contain Adrian Peterson
Last week, the Houston Texas ran for over 100 yards against the stingy Bears rush defense. It won't get any easier for them this week as "All Day" comes to town in a pivotal NFC North matchup. Peterson has been absolutely beasting this season, rushing for a league-high 1,128 yards through 10 games. For those of you math types, that's 112.8 yards per game.
The Vikings offense lives and dies by their ability to run Peterson. Taking that away and making Christian Ponder take chances against the opportunistic and ball-hawking Bears secondary is not a recipe for success for Minnesota.
This game's going to be a battle at the line of scrimmage. Jay Cutler will have to weather the storm and take what the Vikings defensive line gives him as far as time to throw. If possible, he will need to look to move early and extend plays with his feet if his pocket fails him and collapses.
Chicago's just too good defensively to let Christian Ponder beat them, especially without Percy Harvin who may or may not play. He's their big-play guy on special teams and in the passing game, and they take a big hit without him on the field.
Look for the Bears to control the pace of the game with their stout defense and take a couple of chances that end up paying off. A strip-sack of Ponder on an overload blitz and a deep connection between Cutler and Brandon Marshall will be the difference in this one.
Final Score: Bears 20, Vikings 13