Holler: Vikings have advantages in line

The Chicago Bears may not be as elite as once thought. They haven't beaten a winning team since Week 1 and their offensive line is leading to an offensive offense. That's one battle the Vikings have to win to stand a chance at ending a Chicago losing streak.

As the Vikings returned to work Monday, they shook the welcomed rust off in the beginning of their preparation for the Chicago Bears. Meanwhile, the Bears went into their first game without QB Jay Cutler. When backup Jason Campbell flew to San Francisco Sunday, he had high hopes. By the end, the Bears were happy simply to be able to have Campbell fly home with the rest of the team.

Boxers have had easier nights than Campbell had. If nothing else, the 49ers exposed the blueprint of how to dominate the Bears. It can be argued that Campbell has more mobility than Cutler, which actually made him a less stationary target when the Niners ripped the Bears for eight sacks.

As San Francisco showed this week with starting QB Alex Smith, the new era dawning in the NFL in terms of dealing with concussions is a new world order. By all accounts, Smith was on track to return to the lineup Monday night, until he took a post-concussion stress test that had the medicos delaying his return.

Whether the Vikings play Cutler or Campbell, the one thing that will remain the same is that, for two of the next three weeks, the offensive line of the Bears remains BSC-ineligible heading into a pair of games with the Vikings. Unless something changes, Bears quarterbacks are going to be referred to as the Last Man Standing.

Just as the Vikings were viewed as a legitimate playoff contender heading into 2009 with one glaring exception (quarterback) before some guy from Kiln, Miss. showed up and put a hitch in our collective giddy-up, so it is with the Bears of 2012. They have as many interception returns for touchdowns (seven) as they have rushing TDs. If they get behind by double digits, a comeback appears all but impossible. Why? They have a glaring weakness – the Not-So-Fab-Five up front on the O-line.

As surely will be pointed out this week, the Bears are a classic front-runner. When they're ahead, they have a swagger like few others. But there is a man behind the curtain in clear view. When they play good teams, they lose. Chicago has played four teams that currently have a winning record. One was in Week 1 when the Bears defense gave Andrew Luck a personal toilet-swirly in his NFL debut. In the 10 games the Bears have played since, they have faced three teams with a winning record – Green Bay, Houston and San Francisco. In those three games, the Bears have been outscored 68-23. The defense doesn't score touchdowns against good teams and Chicago gets its collective butt kicked.

Are the Vikings an elite team? We'll find out in the next three weeks when they get to go after the suspect Bears O-line twice.


  • Today a pair of veteran Vikings players will lead by example on the players' day off. Kevin Williams will take over a drive started by former Viking E.J. Henderson at the North Minneapolis Cub Foods store. Viking Update has borne witness to the thousands of residents that will have a Thanksgiving with a turkey and the trimmings. North Minneapolis had one of the highest poverty levels in the state prior to a freak May tornado in 2011 cutting a swath through the neighborhood and made a bad situation worse. The long lines that have accompanied the turkey giveaway pays testament to how many lives are innately impacted by the community partnerships fostered by the Vikings and local business leaders.

  • In a vastly different, but equally heartfelt, act of holiday kindness, John Sullivan and his family will host a pre-Thanksgiving meal for childhood cancer patients and their families at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital – a cause near and dear to Sullivan's heart. For those kids unable to attend the buffet-style meal, Sullivan and several of his Vikings teammates will bring meals to the rooms. For those kids who may not have another Thanksgiving and family members who question what they have to be thankful for, the encouragement that Sullivan and his teammates bring will provide smiles for those sorely lacking them.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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