MATCHUPS TO WATCH: BEARS OFFENSE VS. VIKINGS DEFENSE
Leber said this week that the last time these teams met, it was mostly Olsen causing matchup problems for the Vikings. He is more athletic than most linebackers and bigger than any safety, and when he splits out wide it he can also help open up the middle running game if a linebacker follows him. Look for the Bears to consider a no-huddle offense if they get the personnel matchups they want so the Vikings can't substitute.
WR Brandon Lloyd vs. CBs Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield: The Windy City passing game was really humming earlier in the season, as Lloyd was playing up to his immense potential and using his incredible ball skills to make plays down the field. But then he went down with a sprained knee in Week 4, and the Bears haven't been making too many big plays through the air ever since. Lloyd solidified his reputation as a soft player for taking a month and a half to get active again on game day, although you would hardly notice that he even returned since he's only caught three passes for 20 yards in two games.
The Vikings simply don't let anybody have success on the ground, so Lloyd must get back on track in order to make quarterback Kyle Orton all the more effective.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: VIKINGS OFFENSE VS. BEARS DEFENSE
If Berrian can break loose with one or two long receptions, it could be the difference. The last time he caught more than two passes in a game was against the Bears in October, but he wasn't facing Tillman then.
Gs Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera vs. Tommie Harris: Meaning no disrespect to the Williams Wall in Minnesota, Harris is arguably the single most destructive force in the NFL at the defensive tackle position when he's operating at full capacity. The Pro Bowler started the season awfully quiet, leading to more speculation that he's not completely healthy, but he's beginning to look like his old self again. He registered two sacks and two tackles for loss last Sunday in St. Louis, and he's totaled four sacks in his last five contests.
Chicago's version of the Cover 2 simply doesn't work without consistent pressure from the front four, and Harris is the catalyst to providing that pressure – he's the key to stopping the run and sacking the passer.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN THIS GAME IF ...
THE VIKINGS WILL LOSE THIS GAME IF ...
THE BEARS WILL WIN THIS GAME IF ...
THE BEARS WILL LOSE THIS GAME IF ...
John Crist: None of the experted were looking for an 89-point barrage between these two teams when they first got together in Soldier Field, so I'm not looking for another high-scoring affair. Just like the Packers needed the win more than the Bears did two weeks ago in Green Bay, the Vikings simply need this game more, too. Chicago hasn't proven it can contain Peterson, and there is no immediate solution on offense right now if Forte can't find room against that terrific Minnesota run defense ... VIKINGS 23, BEARS 17..
Behind Enemy Lines: Part III
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