Vikings-Bears game plan

Can Brett Favre continue the momentum he gained against the Cardinals late in the Vikings' last game? Defensively, their biggest challenge will likely be defending the pass. The Bears offer a number of intriguing matchups.

VIKINGS

The Vikings lost to the Bears last season in overtime at Soldier Field, and they will return Sunday looking to earn their first win in Chicago since the 2007 season.

It won't be easy, but it certainly is possible that Minnesota could come out with a victory.

Brett Favre passed for a career-high 446 yards Sunday against Arizona and will be going against a defense that is ranked 19th in the NFL against the pass.

Much of Favre's success Sunday came in running the two-minute offense, and it will be interesting to see if the Vikings will attempt to incorporate some elements of that into their regular game plan.

Adrian Peterson is second in the NFL in rushing with 857 yards — he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry — but the Bears are ranked third in the NFL against the run this season, giving up an average of 89.3 yards per game.

Look for Favre to use a receiving corps that will include former Bear Bernard Berrian, who is coming off a season-best performance in which he caught nine passes.

On defense, the Vikings will look to get as much pressure as possible on Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears have given up an NFL-high 32 sacks, and the Vikings are coming off a game in which they recorded six sacks to tie their total from the first seven games.

Statistically, the Bears are ranked 21st in passing and 27th in rushing, so this certainly sets up as a favorable game for the Vikings defense.

BEARS

The Bears finally leveled their run-pass mix on offense last week, but they weren't very effective running the ball against the Bills, who have the worst run defense in the league. That doesn't bode well for the Bears against the Vikings, who are especially stout against the run, ranking No. 5 in yards and average gain allowed per rush. The Bears might switch back to their pass-first philosophy, especially if they can keep the Vikings' pass rush at bay, which most opponents have been able to do this season. The Vikings are just 25th in sack percentage.

The Bears' defense sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick just one time on 52 drop-backs last week, although it did pressure him on several throws. Still, the Bears will need to do a much better job of getting after the Vikings' Brett Favre, who is expected to have deep-threat WR Sidney Rice back for the first time this season. But, before they worry about pressuring Favre, the Chicago defense must contain Adrian Peterson, who has four of his 10 longest runs against the Bears, including gains of 54, 59, 67 and 73 yards, three of which went for touchdowns.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie vs. Bears DE Julius Peppers, who has only two sacks this season. McKinnie had his worst performance of the 2009 season against Peppers, who was then playing for the Panthers. Peppers had only one sack in a 26-7 Carolina victory last Dec. 20, but he also had a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hurries. That performance was enough to get McKinnie benched in a season in which he was selected to the Pro Bowl. Now, McKinnie is going to have to face Peppers twice a season, and this will be meeting No. 1. McKinnie will be reminded of that performance many times this week. He has been playing well enough this year that it would be surprising if he had that much trouble again.

Vikings LB E.J. Henderson vs. Bears RB Matt Forte. Forte leads the Bears with 401 rushing yards and three touchdowns and also has caught a team-leading 29 passes for 315 yards with three touchdowns out of the backfield. Forte could keep Henderson and the rest of the linebackers busy with his versatility out of the backfield. Henderson, Chad Greenway and Ben Leber all will share in the responsibility of keeping Forte in check and not letting him run wild after catching dump passes from Jay Cutler.

< Vikings DE Jared Allen, who had 2.5 sacks last Sunday against Arizona, vs. Bears LT Frank Omiyale. Allen had only one sack on the season before last Sunday, and that had come in Week 2. But he, along with the rest of the defense, got hot late in the game against the Cardinals, and they will be looking to carry over that momentum. Some teams have had success against Allen this season without providing much help to their left tackle, but given the fact the Bears have allowed 32 sacks, it would make sense to make sure that Omiyale at least gets chip assistance with Allen.

Bears OLG Chris Williams, who was drafted as a left tackle and has not played very well at his new position, vs. Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, both of whom should have a considerable strength advantage. The Bears' Williams will get help from C Olin Kreutz, but Kreutz missed Wednesday's practice with a sore hamstring, although he will play Sunday barring any setbacks.


Viking Update Top Stories