The bad news for the Bears is that the Vikings appeared to be hitting on all cylinders in Monday night's 30-23 victory over the Packers that kept them undefeated and a game ahead of Lovie Smith's crew in the NFC North. The good news is that the Bears don't play the Vikings for almost eight weeks.
By then they'll have to figure out a way to block Vikings defensive right end Jared Allen, who terrorized Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers with 4.5 of Minnesota's 8 sacks. Whatever the Bears did against Allen last year didn't work, because he had 4.5 sacks in two games against them.
Granted, Allen was playing Monday against converted guard Daryn Colledge, who moved to left tackle two weeks ago when Chad Clifton was injured, and then Colledge left in the second half with a leg injury, but 4.5 sacks is still impressive.
Bears offensive left tackle Orlando Pace will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day, but there's no chance in the twilight of his career that he can handle Allen by himself. That puts even more importance on the Bears' ground game, which was better against the Lions but still has room for improvement. By running at Allen early, they can wear him down and take away a lot of his aggressiveness as a pass rusher. If they allow him to get into a constant pass-rush mode, they won't be able to block him.
Maybe worse is the proof that Brett Favre still can play, and play incredibly well, especially if he isn't pressured. If the Bears don't do a better job of hurrying Favre, he's sure to pick them apart as he did the Packers, who have a better secondary than the Bears but not a better pass rush.
The Packers did a tremendous job of shutting down Adrian Peterson on Monday night, and the Bears have been shredded by "All Day" in the past, but they can't overplay Peterson to the point of allowing Favre too much time to scan the field for open receivers.
The Bears may not be able to blitz as much against Favre as they have been doing this season, certainly not as much as they did against Seneca Wallace in Week 3, but they can't let him fall into a comfortable rhythm.
Blitz too often, and Favre will make a team pay. But fail to get after him, and Favre also will make a team pay. When he's hurried, Favre will make mistakes. He always has, even in his prime, and he still believes he can pull a great play out of a hat even when there's nothing there. For 10 years that worked against the Bears, but not recently.
Favre doesn't have nearly the mobility he did when he was leading the Packers to an 18-2 record over the Bears from 1994 through 2003. In Favre's last six games against the Bears he's been awful, throwing 13 interceptions and just two TD passes while getting sacked 17 times and compiling a 1-5 record. In four of those games, Favre's passer rating was under 53.0, and his highest mark was just 83.5.
The Vikings did show some flaws against the Packers. When they weren't sacking Rodgers, they were allowing him to throw for 384 yards and complete 26 of 37 passes with two touchdowns. And, with the exception of the first two quarters of the season, the Bears have shown that they can throw the ball effectively.
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