Bears-Vikings Game Snapshot

<B>KICKOFF:</B> Sunday, 1:00 ET<BR> <B>GAMEDATE:</B> 9/26/04<BR> <B>SURFACE: </B>FieldTurf<BR> <B>TV:</B> FOX, Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger SERIES: 86th meeting. Vikings lead series 46-38-2 but Bears have won four of last six meetings. Vikings have won three of last four meetings at the Metrodome.<BR> <B>2004 RANKINGS:</B> Bears: offense 15th (5th rush, 23rd pass); defense 20th (16th rush, 21st pass). Vikings: offense 2nd (20th rush, 2nd pass); defense 26th (5th rush, 32nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bears' secondary will be without starting CBs Charles Tillman and Jerry Azumah and S Mike Brown, so the defensive line needs to come up with a massive game in pressuring Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper. They will undoubtedly attack Vikings RT Adam Haayer, who is replacing injured Mike Rosenthal. Minnesota likes to have balance with a power running game, but the offensive line hasn't played up to expectations yet. And if Chicago can get an early lead, it can concentrate on defending the pass and WR Randy Moss, who has 75 receptions and eight touchdowns in 12 previous meetings. The Bears are relying heavily on RB Thomas Jones as a duel threat, but QB Rex Grossman must test a Vikings pass defense ranked last in the league in order to put up the kind of points it will take to beat Minnesota at home.

FAST FACTS: Bears: Have won four of the past six meetings. ... All five of WR David Terrell's receptions have gone for more than 15 yards. Vikings: With Rosenthal out, the offensive line won't start the same five players for the first time in 19 games. ... WR Randy Moss has a touchdown reception in seven consecutive games, tying the team record he shares with Cris Carter. ... Lead the series 46-38-2, including 26-18 at home.

PREDICTED SCORE: Vikings 30, Bears 23


--FS Todd Johnson has received most of the snaps with the first team this week and is expected to get his first NFL start Sunday in place of injured Mike Brown.

--SS Mike Green is expected to remain at his usual position rather than switching over to free safety in place of Mike Brown, who is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon.

--S Bobby Gray was considered the logical choice to replace injured Mike Brown in the Bears' secondary, but it appears he'll be bypassed in favor of Todd Johnson. Gray will still be on the field in nickel situations at strong safety, when starter Mike Green moved to nickel back.

--QB Rex Grossman, despite an efficient outing vs. the Packers in Week Two, has completed just 49.1 percent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 53.9 with one touchdown and three interceptions. In three starts as a rookie last season, Grossman completed 52.8 percent of his passes and had a rating of 74.8 with two touchdowns and one interception.

--WR Bernard Berrian will be counted on more after the release of WR Daryl Jones. Berrian has yet to catch a pass this season.

-- SLB Keith Newman might get his first start as a Viking. The Vikings want to give rookie WLB Dontarrious Thomas a breather mentally, so they're going to take him out of the starting lineup. They'll probably move Chris Claiborne from the strong side to the weak side, and start Newman on the strong side. Another option is starting Mike Nattiel on the weak side.

-- K Morten Andersen will break Hall of Famer George Blanda's NFL record when he plays in his 341st game on Sunday. "I'm very proud and humbled," Andersen said. "But, obviously, I haven't had the physical contact that George had because he also was a quarterback for most of his career."

-- DT Chris Hovan has only three tackles, one solo, in two games. He has been under fire from Vikings fans, and coach Mike Tice even called him out for poor play in the season opener against Dallas. Tice, however, said Hovan, "did his job" in the loss to Philadelphia. The bottom line is Hovan isn't making the big plays that are expected of him.

-- RB Onterrio Smith had a career-high 148 yards in a bulldozer-type effort in last year's 13-10 loss at Chicago. He'll get most of the carries against the Bears on Sunday. He'll need to improve on his performance from the Philadelphia game. Smith was held to 28 yards on 10 carries and was stopped for no gain on two carries from the Eagles' 2-yard line.

-- TE Sean Berton, a decent blocker who was cut in training camp, was re-signed this week and will start because of the Vikings' injuries at tight end. No. 1 TE Jim Kleinsasser (knee) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. No. 2 TE Jermaine Wiggins (hand) probably will miss the next two games. Berton was shopping at the Mall of America when coach Mike Tice called and told him he would be starting against the Bears on Sunday. -- RB Moe Williams (ankle) didn't play Monday night. He's listed as questionable, but he will play this week.

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