8 Key Vikings-Bears Matchups
The Bears 2011 season is either about to become unstable, fail to achieve fusion power and burn away into a cool brown dwarf, or mysteriously solidify, grow into a freakish runaway force and supernova all over the NFC.
It's Week 6, a chill is in the Chicago air, and the Bears are reeling from a Monday night loss to the Lions. This is when they can be most dangerous.
The Vikings sideshow rolls into town for a Sunday night football game. Exposed last season, Minnesota sent coach Brad Childress packing, and parted ways with old-man Brett Favre, only to pick up slightly-younger-old-man Donovan McNabb as the replacement at quarterback. They picked up their first win last week against the hapless Arizona Cardinals, and will try to use this as a spark.
1. Jay Cutler vs. Mike Martz vs. the Vikings
Three enter the cage...only one survives...or something like that.
The Bears march to NFC glory begins with Jay Cutler, who finally decided to point out he is being sacked way too much.
Offensive coordinator and part time offensive savant Mike Martz has put the whole affair under investigation.
The Vikings have a fierce pass rush, but I feel Martz will figure something out, or at least tone down the heat a little. His ego is on the line now, and he’s a genius right?
Advantage: Cutler and the Bears
2. Jared Allen vs. the Bears Offensive Line
Meanwhile, the Vikings and some shifty calf roper named Jared Allen ride into town. This guy is playing like a prairie fire and does not really care about the legacy of the 2000-2001 St. Louis Rams, or how Cutler feels.
Not to back off on my previous slide, but Allen should have a solid day in the Bears backfield...and we will still see an improvement in the Bears blocking compared to previous weeks.
Advantage: Allen and the Vikings.
3. Adrian Peterson vs. the Bears Defensive Line
In seven games against the Bears, Adrian Peterson has averaged 112 yards per game, 5.03 yards per carry.
The Bears are sort of like his sparring buddy, some sort of strange mismatch occurs. He seems to bring it every time, and these numbers were against better Bears run defenses, and with the Vikings circus at quarterback.
This year the Vikings have McNabb behind center and no passing game to speak of.
The Bears will be focusing on Peterson—seven men in the box, eight, nine, all 11 in the box. That said, I once saw Peterson literally throw an opposing player aside. He tossed him the way I toss an empty milk carton into the trash.
Advantage: Peterson and the Vikings
4. Percy Harvin vs. the Bears (Revamped?) Secondary
The Bears are benching safeties Meriweather and Harris after the Lions debacle on Monday night.
I’m looking for the veteran McNabb and the playmaker Harvin to attempt to stretch the field a little when the Bears stack the line.
Maybe this is the game where Vikings coach Leslie Frazier “opens the playbook” as they say; or at least “blows the dust off the playbook” or "borrows the playbook for a while."
I’m not talking anything radical here; expect a steady diet of Peterson up the middle, but 3rd-and-short play action McNabb special...and there’s Harvin up the seem…
Advantage: Harvin and the Vikings
5. Devin Hester vs. Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe
Just as Peterson makes hay against the Bears, Hester feeds off the Vikings. He owns Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, having returned three of his punts already for touchdowns in his career.
You think Kluwe doesn’t know this? You think he’s not thinking about this right now? You think Hester whistling past him on his way to six does not accompany his morning coffee?
So just don’t kick to him, right? Wrong! That’s not how it’s done in the Midwest.
Why are the Milwaukee Brewers pitching to St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols? Hubris. Sportsmanship. Delusional thinking. Hester houses one on Sunday night.
Advantage: Hester and the Bears
6. Matt Forte vs. the Vikings Defensive Line
Forte is having a great season so far, this mainly because I did not draft him in fantasy football and I could use him badly. This guy loves to spite me, and spite is a powerful thing.
He has almost 800 yards of total offense in five games! Those are Marshall Faulk type numbers.
The Bears will have their pass rush on 11, so I see Forte finding the gaps, catching screen passes and rising to the occasion with an energized home crowd.
Advantage: Forte and the Bears.
7. Donavan McNabb vs. the World
I never really liked McNabb, but I do now for all the wrong reasons. This guy has been discarded by two teams in two years—once for Kevin Kolb and once for Rex Grossman. Folks, that’s some serious rejection. That's your girlfriend leaving you for your boss's son—not once, but twice.
Then the Vikings picked McNabb up after their Favre affair went off the rails. This just reeks of being the rebound guy to a girl who had a crazy ex-boyfriend. No good things can happen here.
And to top it off he gets booed by his own fans? In this screwed-up world, McNabb is actually one of the good-guys and his jaded woman is booing him? I seriously can't believe this guy can hold it together.
The last person booed by the Vikings fans was Brad Childress, later run out of town. It might be a good thing McNabb is going on the road. He needs some peace.
As it is, he’s staring his legacy in the face, and he’s clinging to that last win like it’s a free-floating life raft.
I have this odd feeling that the Bears fans are going to sense a boxer on the ropes, they'll rise as one energizing a Bears defense hungry for respect. The cold night air will be set ablaze. Somewhere a big dog barks...
8. You vs. Vegas
The Bears are -3, and the O/U is 42.
On paper the Vikings have the tools here, the match-ups, the strengths needed. But I think last year showed they were a rudderless ship, and I don’t see much difference this year.
They haven’t paid for the Favre affair in full yet. Plus the Bears are the Bears. I don’t know how they do it. Last year this team was in the NFC championship game. Think about that. It’s the type of chicanery only the Bears can pull off.
The Bears are home, and they’ll probably pull it off as stated, but this thing could go anywhere. I could just as easily see Cutler throwing five picks and the Vikings winning in a landslide, as I can a 19-17 Vikings win with a freak safety by Allen to seal.
I can see a 17-14 Vikings win with Peterson rushing for 200 yards. Or a 28-14 Bears win with a rejuvenated Martz pulling the strings.
Too many wild cards in this one, mixed in with the potential for some very sloppy football.
But played 1,000 times in my head, the Bears win averaging 24-17.