Bears-Vikings NFC North Showdown

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By Rikki Greenberg

As a fan, standing by the Chicago Bears through thick or thin, through a fist-pumping victory or horrid loss, is a joyous experience.

As a writer, spitting out information about the Chicago Bears is a wall-banging, hair-pulling, frustrating roller-coaster ride of an experience.
As the first-place divisional showdown between Da Bears (6-5) and the Vikings (6-5) looms overhead, the only thing I want to do (both as a fan and as a writer) is slink down into the Bear Cave, hook up the two HD TVs (with surround sound) and hibernate until Sunday.
In the meantime, preparation in the form of what this game means to the division and who to look out for on both sides of the ball is key. After hours of studying game tape (watching NFL videos), dissecting players’ performances (checking stats on nfl.com) and munching on some delectable beef jerky, here is what the football nation should be aware of during the feisty Bears-Vikings match-up.

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Divisional Showdown
If the Chicago Bears win against divisional foes the Minnesota Vikings, Lovie and Company will take first-place standings in the NFC North.  Since Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith’s announcement of the new “six-game season,” the Bears are 1-1 with upcoming games against Jacksonville (4-7), New Orleans, Green Bay and Houston (4-7).

The two remaining games that matter most to the Bears are New Orleans (6-5) during Week 15 and Green Bay (5-6) during Week 16. Newly crowned cheese head King Aaron Rodgers didn’t do too well against the mighty Saints defense with three interceptions in the second half, two of them returned for over 30 yards. Opposing quarterback Drew Brees (20-of-26 for 323 yards, 4 TDs and zero interceptions) carved up the Pack. Between the Packers and the Saints, the Bears should worry about the Saints. Brees is unstoppable at this point (157.3 passer rating and 9th consecutive game with a completion over 40 yards against the Packers during Week 12 of the regular season) and the running game gets a boost from second season running back Pierre “I-L-L….I-N-I” Thomas and veteran running back Deuce McAllister.

As far as the division goes, the NFC North is full of hot garbage, so to come out on top doesn’t really announce to the league “We are THE team to beat in the playoffs!”  However, first place is first place so if the Bears can pull out two key victories against Green Bay and New Orleans and two easy victories against Jacksonville and Houston, Lovie and Co. should be in good shape for the playoffs no matter what seed they.

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Chicago Bears

Offense:
Since the Vikings will be looking to shut down the passing game, Orton shouldn’t be afraid to give favored Bears workhorse rookie running back Matt Forte the ball all day. Forte has quickly become the breakout star the Bears predicted he would be. Against a Rams defense incapable of stopping the run, Forte had his best week yet with 21 carries for 139 yards and a 6.6 yards per carry average. It is no secret who the Bears will be handing the ball to on Sunday night, so it’s important for the Bears offensive line to block and open holes in the holes in the running game as well as protect the quarterback from the devastating duo of defensive tackles Pat Williams (8 tackles in last four games) and Kevin Williams (9 tackles in last three games).

Defense: Most likely to exploit the Bears inconsistent defense is second year Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. During Week 7 of the 2008 regular season, Peterson had 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the 41-48 loss to the Bears. Peterson averaged 6.8 yards per carry against the Bears and usually breaks through the Bears front four for big plays. The Bears main job is to contain Peterson as much as they possibly can. Contain Peterson, along with veteran running back Chester Taylor and the Bears 15th ranked defense can look forward to praise in the papers the next day.

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Minnesota Vikings

Offense: The only play Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte (25-of-40 for 298 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INT against the Bears during Week 7 of the regular season) needs to remember is the one where he hands off to Peterson. Give the ball to the second rusher in the league (behind numero uno Redskins running back Clinton Portis) and watch him fly past the Bears front four and into the open field for a touchdown. As far as the passing game is concerned, Berrian should be attended as any top notch receiver. Despite his dip in performance (zero touchdowns last three games), Berrian is still the go-to man in the Vikings receiving corps. Since veteran cornerback Nathan Vasher is out with a hand injury, it’ll be up to second season corner Corey Graham to contain Berrian. If the Bears can provide ample coverage on Berrian, than Frerotte will have no choice but to go to his second (sixth-year tight end Visanthe Shiancoe) and third (former Bears wide receiver Bobby Wade) favorite targets.


Defense:
The main job of the Vikings defense will be to consistently bring the heat to the Bears passing game. Although Orton will be the primary focus for the 9th ranked defense, 10-year veteran tight end Desmond Clark (questionable with knee injury) and second season former rapper turned tight end Greg Olsen are on the Viking’s radar as well. The Vikings defense will also look to shut down the running game by implementing a “Do not Pass Go” policy on Bears rookie running back Forte.

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Comments

  1. prowriter0923 says

    I agree with everything Rikki says. She’s brilliant!!!

  2. Yeah, and ur not biased at all

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