Bears-Vikings Breakdown

With their divisional opponent more than a week away from being determined, the Bears are unlikely to show much in the regular season finale against the Vikings. Take a look at the game plans, key matchups as well as reaction from players and coaches.

BEARS GAME PLAN
To be healthy for the playoffs. The Bears want to win the game. They want to set a franchise record for fewest points allowed by holding the Vikings to less than 19 points. They want RB Thomas Jones to get the 27 yards he needs for 1,300. And they want to sweep the NFC North. But mostly they want to be healthy for their first playoff game, which will be the weekend of Jan. 14-15.

"Our bigger objective is to win in the playoffs if it means because of some certain situations that we sacrifice those things well then so beat it," said defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

  • Bears five-time Pro Bowl C Olin Kreutz, if he plays on a mildly sprained ankle, vs. Vikings DT Pat Williams. "Kreutz, he ain't nothing but a joke," Williams said. "He's been a joke since he came in the league. I've never respected the guy."

    There is also a chance that Williams won't play. He left the team after his father passed away on Tuesday.

  • Bears QB Rex Grossman vs. the Vikings Field Turf, on which he suffered a non-contact ruptured ACL 15 months ago while diving into the end zone for his only NFL rushing touchdown.

    "It's going to be fun to go back and play there," Grossman said. "Obviously, I am going to remember what happened, but I think everything will kind of come full circle. I'll think about it a little bit, but mostly I will be thinking about what I am supposed to do. I'm glad we're playing there and I am glad I get a chance to go back to the scene of the disaster."

    VIKINGS GAME PLAN
    The Vikings are out of the playoffs, and the Chicago has locked into the No. 2 seed in the NFC, meaning this game could take on the feel of a preseason matchup.

    "Playing Chicago will always help you out and get you motivated because you are playing the divisional champions, playing a team that beat you soundly the previous game," said veteran safety Darren Sharper.

    It's uncertain how long Bears coach Lovie Smith will play his starters, and Vikings coach Mike Tice has made it clear he wants to get a look at some of his younger players.

    "We're going to play everybody and see if we can get some of these young guys involved a little bit more, get a good evaluation against a very good team," Tice said.

    Smith will want to avoid injuries at all costs, even if that means the Bears fail to get the series sweep of Minnesota. Tice is much more likely to go for the victory considering he could be fighting for his job.

    "I just know that if we can finish 7-2 after the disastrous start of 2-5, to finish 7-2, as I told the coaches, they can't take that away from you," Tice said.

    Sharper added, "I pretty much think all season long we've been doing that. Whether it's for Coach Tice's job or not, we think Coach Tice is definitely going to have a shot at coming back. We're hoping that he does."

    Brad Johnson will start at quarterback for the Vikings, and while backup Shaun Hill could see action, that likely won't happen if the game remains close.

    Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said he plans to stay with the status quo in his game plan and points out that many of the Vikings' younger players on his side of the ball have seen significant action this season.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH

  • Rookie RT Marcus Johnson, if he returns, could have his hands full with Bears DLE Adewale Ogunleye. Both players could see limited action, but Ogunleye would provide a tough test. He leads the Bears with 10 sacks.

    "Some people have personal goals they want to get," Ogunleye said. "By the same token, we've got a chance to sweep the division and send a message for next season too."

  • Bears reserves against the Vikings second string. The outcome will likely decided by the backups. One group is trying to get experience for the postseason, while the other is working to impress their coaches for next season.

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