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Chicago Bears Week 10 Scouting Report: The Minnesota Vikings

Andrew ChadwickContributor INovember 10, 2010

EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - OCTOBER 6: Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress answers questions from the media during a press conference at Winter Park on October 6, 2010 in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Childress made it official that the Vikings signed wide receiver Randy Moss.   (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

State of the Franchise

A sex scandal, an emotionally unstable receiver, and a coaching controversy have created quite the mess in the City of Lakes.  This undeniably bizarre and disappointing season for the Minnesota Vikings has squandered a talented team, once favored by many analysts to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. 

Yet the Vikings’ postseason hopes live on, especially in a year where parity reigns supreme in the NFC. 

Since nearly pulling off a comeback victory against the New Jets in Week 5, the Vikings have shown some signs of improvement behind a more productive Brett Favre, although he is still battling the turnover bug.

The downtrodden Vikings are hoping for a turnaround following their impressive comeback win in overtime against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.  This victory, for the time, has alleviated the prevailing fears that Minnesota’s season will spiral out of control in the wake of the Randy Moss debacle.

Now, at 3-5, Minnesota heads into a crucial divisional matchup in Chicago against the Bears, who also had a big win on Sunday against the winless Buffalo Bills.

What should Bears fans expect from this down, but not out, Vikings teams?  Let’s analyze their strengths and weaknesses to deduce their likely courses of action against the Monsters of the Midway.

Strengths

Adrian Peterson:  The all-star running back is off to another great season, producing 857 yards on the ground, while averaging 4.8 yards per carry.  Most importantly, he has no fumbles this year, compared to seven last season.

Chicago’s run defense, which ranks third in the NFL, will have its biggest challenge of the 2010 season trying to contain the dynamic Peterson.

Rush Defense:  Since deploying the super-sized Pat and Kevin Williams to anchor the center of their defensive line, the Minnesota Vikings have excelled at stuffing opposing rushers. 

Thus far, in 2010, the Vikings defense is not quite as formidable as it was last season, but the unit remains a top 10 rushing defense.

Chicago’s below average ground game will face an uphill battle trying to run against the Vikings.

Weaknesses

Pass Offense: Brett Favre played uncharacteristically efficient last season, throwing a career low seven interceptions.  But his turnover prone tendencies reemerged in 2010, as he’s thrown 13 picks in just eight games.

After missing the offseason, Favre has struggled to regain his 2009 form.  Age, an injured ankle, and off the field distractions are likely catching up to the 41-year-old QB.

Nevertheless, last week, Favre demonstrated he still had a little magic left, as he rallied his team to victory in overtime, while throwing for a career high 446 yards. 

Pass Rush:  For a team with such talent on defense, the Vikings have been inexplicably bad at generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  For instance, sack-master Jared Allen, after producing 14.5 sacks last year, has managed a meager 3.5 this season. 

Even though Allen stepped up his play against the Cardinals on Sunday, earning 2.5 sacks, he must maintain this productivity to return the Minnesota defense to 2009 levels.

Look for Allen to have plenty of opportunities to expand his sack total against a leaky Chicago Bears offensive line.

Likely Courses of Action

Last Sunday, the Buffalo Bills behind journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, moved the ball efficiently through the air against the Bears pass defense. 

Earlier this season, Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers also exposed the Bears’ average secondary, when allotted time to pass.

Throughout 2010, when the Bears fail to generate pressure on opposing QBs, CBs Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings have had difficulties shutting down opposing receivers, especially on slant and screen routes.  Since the NFL is a copycat league, expect the Vikings to utilize a similar tactic against the Bears on Sunday.

Speedy Vikings’ receivers Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian are dangerous in space.  To counter, Chicago must jam the Vikings receivers at the line of scrimmage, while simultaneously producing quick pressure on an injured Brett Favre, whose mobility remains limited.

At the same time, expect a heavy dosage of Adrian Peterson, who has, throughout his career, ran well against Chicago.  Having a productive run game will be critical for the Vikings to take pressure off their injured quarterback.

Defensively, expect the Vikings to blitz Jay Cutler early and often, given that the Bears offensive line remains Chicago’s Achilles’ heel.  Despite showing signs of improvement against Washington and Buffalo, the Vikings will test the line to see whether their performance last week was an anomaly. 

Also expect Minnesota to shutdown Chicago’s running game.  The Bears are unable to run the ball well this year; there is no reason to believe this trend will change against an elite run defense.

Prediction

Later this week, I will post my detailed prediction, which will breakdown the matchups and likely game plans for both teams.

However, following this initial analysis, I believe the Chicago Bears will squeak by the Vikings 24-21 at Solider Field. 

If the game were in Minnesota, I believe the Vikings would win, but with home field advantage and some momentum following a big win against Buffalo, I expect the Bears to emerge the victors.

It is also important to note that in recent years, the Vikings have struggled on the road, dropping their last eight road games.  Their difficulties on the road will likely continue on Sunday. 

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