Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings
Noon Sunday, FOX, AM-780 & 105.9 FM
Northwest Herald sports writer Tom Musick breaks down next week’s Bears game.
Bears’ rushing offense vs. Vikings’ rushing defense
Listen closely. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of Matt Forte’s production grinding to a halt. Forte has averaged 2.8 yards per carry in the past two weeks against Houston and San Francisco, but he should be able to fare better against the Vikings’ 14th-ranked rushing defense. Then again, that’s assuming the Bears’ offensive line can block mammoth defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Fred Evans.
Bears’ passing offense vs. Vikings’ passing defense
Jay Cutler has been cleared to practice on a limited basis, but his status for Sunday remains uncertain until he receives the final go-ahead from an independent neurologist. Regardless, it doesn’t take a brain doctor to realize that the Bears’ offensive line will be at a disadvantage against Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen and the rest of the Vikings’ pass rush. Allen recorded 3 ˝ sacks the last time he faced the Bears.
Vikings’ rushing offense vs. Bears’ rushing defense
Not only has Vikings running back Adrian Peterson enjoyed a monster season (1,128 yards, 7 TDs, 5.8 yards per carry), but he also is coming off of a bye to rest his busy legs. Meanwhile, the Bears have slipped in run defense by allowing an average of 131.5 rushing yards in their past four games. Expect the Bears to stack the box against Peterson and dare the Vikings to pass, but whether the plan will work is anyone’s guess.
Vikings’ passing offense vs. Bears’ passing defense
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has had a few terrific games, a few horrible games, and a few games in between. So, which Ponder will show up Sunday at Soldier Field? This much is certain: The Bears were embarrassed by a relatively unknown quarterback named Colin Kaepernick on Monday, and they will do everything in their power to prevent that from happening again. A nagging ankle injury to Percy Harvin also helps the Bears.
When your job involves slamming into other people and crashing to the ground, rest between games is a big deal. The Vikings are coming off of a long rest (14 days), while the Bears are coming off of a short rest (six days). That doesn’t guarantee a Vikings win, but given the Bears’ recent unraveling and the distractions that come with a holiday week, look for the fresher team to prevail in a hard-fought divisional game.
Musick’s pick: Vikings 20, Bears 17