The Minnesota Vikings game against the Chicago Bears was quite a roller-coaster ride—not necessarily the best thing after all the feasting following the Thanksgiving holiday. In a game that both teams had a chance to win, the Vikings came out on top in perhaps one of the wildest games ever played in the Metrodome.
The Vikings won behind 211 rushing yards from running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson went over 10,000 yards in his career. As Michael David Smith from Pro Football Talk points out, Peterson is in exclusive company.
Adrian Peterson becomes the 3rd fastest player to 10,000 rushing yards http://t.co/CmWUT7rfDU— SI Wire (@SI_Wire) December 1, 2013
It all came against the worst run defense in the NFL. Things will get a whole lot tougher this week when the Vikings travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens.
Even though the Ravens have the same 6-6 record as the Bears, these two teams are not that close. The Bears on the road are as bad as the Ravens are dominant at home.
The Vikings' offense will have a more difficult time running the ball and scoring points.
|Defense||Record||Rush Yd/G||Points per Game|
|Bears on the Road||2-4||191.8||32.2|
|Ravens at Home||5-1||98.8||12.3|
Pro Football Reference
The Ravens' only home loss came in Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers. In that game, running back Eddie Lacy rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries. While Peterson is more than capable of replicating that performance, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 315 yards on 17-of-32 passing.
The Vikings probably won't get that kind of performance from any one of their quarterbacks.
The records in the NFC North appear to be close. They're not.
With a season sweep over the Bears, Detroit has a two-game lead over Chicago. With a 4-1 division record and a 6-3 conference record, the Lions are in complete control of the division.
|Team||Wins||Losses||Ties||Div||Con.||Week 14 Opponent|
|Detroit Lions||7||5||0||4-1||6-3||@ Eagles (7-5)|
|Chicago Bears||6||6||0||2-3||3-6||vs. Cowboys (7-5)|
|Green Bay Packers||5||6||1||2-2-1||3-5-1||vs. Falcons (3-9)|
|Minnesota Vikings||3||8||1||1-3-1||2-7-1||@ Ravens (6-6)|
After their 40-10 loss to Detroit, the Packers have gotten a taste of what the rest of the division has experienced—that without a franchise quarterback it's difficult to win in the NFL.
|Brett Favre||1992 - 2007||160||93||0||0.632|
|Aaron Rodgers||2008 - 2013||57||29||0||0.662|
|Matt Flynn||2010 - 2011, 2013||1||2||0||0.333|
Pro Football Reference
Behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers had won four straight games to lead the division after Week 8 with a 5-2 record. Then Rodgers went down after two passes against the Bears, and the Packers have gone five weeks without a win.
|Desmond Bishop||LB||Knee||Injured Reserve|
|Zach Line||FB||Knee||Injured Reserve|
Pro Football Reference / Vikings.com
The only injury the Vikings suffered against the Bears on Sunday was a concussion to starting quarterback Christian Ponder. It knocked him out of the game late in the first half. He completed only three of eight passes for 40 yards and was sacked three times for a loss of 24 yards.
Matt Cassel took over for Ponder and led the Vikings to 16 second-half points for the overtime win. He finished 20-of-33 for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception. It was the second-most passing yards on the season for the Vikings.
Matt Cassel did what Christian Ponder couldn’t: Open up the Vikings’ offense http://t.co/7vAxmZ4PBL— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) December 1, 2013
Even though he was active for the game, linebacker Erin Henderson did not play a single snap against the Bears. Henderson missed the game against the Packers for personal reasons. It was revealed that Henderson has been arrested for a DWI on November 19—two days after the game against the Seahawks.
An article from Chris Tomasson in the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that head coach Leslie Frazier has been impressed with the way that second-year linebacker Audie Cole has played the last two games in place of Henderson. There is no indication of when Henderson will return to the starting lineup.
Frazier said moving Erin Henderson back to WLB is 'definitely something to consider' moving forward w/ how Audie Cole has played at MLB— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) December 2, 2013
What Needs to Improve
What needs to improve for the Minnesota Vikings still comes down to the defense. The offense has done enough to win several games this season, but the defense was not able to come up with stops.
|Total yards per game||407.6||30th|
|Rushing yards per game||120.8||23rd|
|Passing yards per game||286.8||30th|
|Passing touchdowns allowed||26||32nd|
|Points allowed per game||30.5||32nd|
|Time of possession||33:45||31st|
NFL.com / Stat Milk / Pro Football Reference
Over the first eight games, the Vikings allowed an average of 31.5 points per game. They were 1-7 in those games.
Over the last four games, the defense has decreased that to 28.5 points per game—and that includes the 41-20 drubbing by the Seahawks in Week 11. The Vikings are 2-1-1 the last four weeks.
It's not much, but in a lost season like this one, you have to grasp for every positive scrap you can find.
The defense has played slightly better against the pass the last four games, but it seems to have come at the expense of stopping the run.
One bright spot on defense the past two weeks has been the play of rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes has broken up a couple of passes in the end zone the last two games to prevent a touchdown.
On Sunday, he limited wide receiver Brandon Marshall to only four catches for 45 yards. But on the other side of the field, Chicago wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey caught 12 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns.
|Period||Pass Yds/Game||Rush Yds/Game||Scoring|
|First 8 games||291.1||104.0||31.5|
|Last 4 games||278.8||153.8||28.5|
Pro Football Reference
The defense will need to play better if the Vikings are to win another game this season. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 28-20, a .583 winning percentage. All four are in the hunt for the playoffs, with three of them—Eagles, Bengals and Lions—leading their respective divisions.