Sage Rosenfels denies publicly questioning Brad Childress' intelligence, but the Vikings have a game to focus on. They hold the statistical advantage over the Bears in many categories, but turnovers can be Chicago's great equalizer.
One of the worst things about a juicy scandal is that everybody wants in on it. A story earlier this week in The Chicago Sun-Times
cited anonymous players and team sources trashing Brad Childress, with comments ranging from that Chilly had "no people skills" to one player saying he actually hates him.
A column on the website CSNChicago.com by former Bears quarterback Jim Miller
quoted Sage Rosenfels as claiming Childress was "an absolute idiot" and "clueless." Those of us who got to know Rosenfels in the 18 months in which he was a Viking, were a bit surprised that he would speak out so publicly and critically. It didn't sound like the Sage many of us got to know. For a guy who had every right to bear a grudge toward Childress, he never took the opportunity to bad-mouth him publicly, even after he was traded to the Giants. So to hear the quotes attributed to Rosenfels didn't seem to make sense.
As it turned out, he didn't say it.
The story got linked to the NBC-partner site ProFootballTalk.com and it didn't take long for the denials to come. It's one thing when the subject of an interview denies quotes attributed to him, but PFT was contacted by both Miller and Rosenfels claiming that the statements in the story weren't statements Rosenfels made.
PFT guru Mike Florio, an admitted Vikings fan who has helped fuel the fires of the Vikings' drama-filled 2010 season, said shortly after posting a link to the story, he got an e-mail from Miller saying the story was inaccurate. Almost immediately thereafter, he got a call from Rosenfels. He was angry about the incident, telling the website, "I sure as hell would never as [sic] said anything about Brad on the air or off the air. I don't even know Jim Miller. Why would I want to get myself wrapped up in that whole situation?"
He added he wished the Vikings the best of luck and that he has "a lot of respect for those players and coaches. That's not my personality." He also denied being the source of the Yahoo! Sports story in August that quoted an unnamed player as saying that Favre thought Chilly "has no clue about offense."
The story has been revised to take out Rosenfels' name and replaced the culprit as "a former Viking." Who the unnamed player was remains a mystery. But, one thing is clear. Rosenfels was upset he was being linked to it. He was as stand-up a guy as I've dealt with in my years covering the Vikings and, despite being the primary victim of Favre-a-palooza, he never left the high road in trying to make the best of a bad situation. It's nice to see the story has been rectified, because few people in the NFL are as classy as Rosenfels, who has shown incredible dignity under brutal career circumstances.
VIKINGS-BEARS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings will once again be playing with 52 players on the active roster. Sidney Rice, who was expected to take the 53rd roster spot if he could play on a limited basis Sunday, was not activated to the 53-man roster. To play Sunday, he had to be activated by 4 p.m. Eastern Saturday with the league office in New York. That call never came and Rice remains inactive.
The Vikings have the 12th-ranked offense (ninth rushing, 16th passing) and the fifth-ranked defense (seventh rushing, 10th passing). The Bears have the 29th-ranked offense (27th rushing, 21st passing) and the eighth-rated defense (third rushing, 19th passing).
The Vikings are averaging 353.5 yards a game on offense (225.8 passing, 127.8 rushing). The Bears are averaging 289.5 yards a game (198.9 passing, 90.6 rushing).
The Vikings defense has allowed 304.6 yards a game (208.4 passing, 96.3 rushing). Chicago has allowed 309.6 yards a game (225.8 passing, 83.9 rushing).
The Vikings are one of just three teams ranked in the top 10 in both rush and pass defense – along with the Giants and Chargers.
The Bears are last in the league in sacks per pass play.
The Vikings are 18th in offensive third-down conversions, making good on 38.2 percent (39 of 102) . The Bears are dead last at 22.8 percent (22 of 96). The league average is 38.4 percent.
The Bears are epically bad on third down. Only one other team (Washington) is under 30 percent conversion rate.
The Vikings are second in the league in net punt average. The Bears are 29th.
Both Minnesota and Chicago have a reputation for sacks on defense, but the Vikings rank 25th in sacks per pass play and the Bears are 30th.
Defensively, the Bears are first in both gross punt average and net punt average. The Vikings are 25th and 27th, respectively in returning punts.
Chicago is tied for 15th in giveaway/takeaway ratio at plus-1 (20 takeaways, 19 giveaways). The Vikings are tied for 29th at minus-9 (10 takeaways, 19 giveaways).
Only Carolina (minus-11) has a worse giveaway/takeaway ratio than the Vikings.
No team has more takeaways in the league than the Bears' 20 (11 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries). They have twice as many takeaways as the Vikings.
The Vikings and Bears both have 19 giveaways. Only four teams have coughed up the ball more – San Diego (21), the New York Giants (22), Arizona (24) and Carolina (25).
The Vikings are 19th in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 12 of 26 drives (46.2 percent). The Bears are 28th, scoring nine touchdowns on 24 red zone possessions (37.5 percent).
In a dismal statistical category, the Vikings are Bears are about as bad as it gets. The Vikings are 29th in scoring percentage in the red zone (coming away without points on seven of their 26 drives). The Bears are 31st, missing out on points on seven of 24 red zone chances.
Defensively, the Vikings are 19th in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 11 of 21 possessions (52.4 percent). The Bears are 29th, allowing 12 touchdowns on 18 possessions (66.7 percent).
While they give up a high percentage of red zone touchdowns, no defense has allowed its opponents into the red zone fewer times than Chicago.
Thanks to teams short-kicking to avoid Percy Harvin on kickoffs, only one team has a better average starting position (Seattle) than the Vikings' average of the 31.2-yard line. That is almost five yards better than the league average of the 26.5-yard line.
Brett Favre and Jay Cutler each have one 300-yard passing game. The Bears have allowed two 300-yard passers. The Vikings have yet to allow an opponent to throw for 300 yards.
Harvin has both of the Vikings' 100-yard receiving games. The Bears have two as well – one by Johnny Knox and one by Matt Forte. The Bears have allowed four 100-yard receivers. The Vikings have allowed three – one in each of the last three games.
Adrian Peterson has three 100-yard rushing games. Forte has the Bears' only 100-yard rushing game. The Bears have allowed two 100-yard rushers, while the Vikings have allowed one.
Cutler is the 16th-ranked quarterback in the league with a passer rating of 86.0. Favre is 27th with a rating of 75.7.
Thanks to last week's game against Arizona, Favre's season passer rating climbed from 69.8 to 75.7 in one game.
Cutler is 22nd in fourth-quarter passer rating (77.5 percent). Favre is 27th at 67.8.
Favre is 22nd in third-down passer rating (68.3). Cutler is 25th at 66.8.
Adrian Peterson is second in the NFL in rushing with 857 yards, just seven yards behind league leader Arian Foster. Forte is 21st with 401 yards.
Thanks to nine receptions last week, Percy Harvin jumped into a tie for 22nd place with 40 receptions. Forte leads the Bears with 29, which ties him for 55th in the league.
Knox is averaging almost 20 yards a catch, which is enough to rank him 17th in receiving yards (527). Harvin is right behind him in 18th place with 519 yards.
Peterson is tied for fifth in scoring for non-kickers with 48 points (eight touchdowns). Harvin is tied for 21st with 32 points (five TDs and a two-point conversion. Forte is 12th with 38 points (six TDs and a two-point conversion).
Robbie Gould is tied for 20th among scoring for kickers with 50 points. Ryan Longwell is 29th with 40 points.
Sebastian Janikowski has attempted 29 field goals to lead the league. Longwell has attempted just eight – the fewest of any kicker who has played in all of his team's games.
Peterson is second in the league in total yards with 1,114 (857 rushing, 257 receiving). He trails Foster by 65 yards. Forte is 18th with 716 yards (401 rushing, 315 passing). Harvin is tied for 30th with 593 yards (519 receiving, 74 rushing). Knox is 41st with 529 yards (527 receiving, 2 rushing).
Peterson is second in first downs gained with 55 (42 rushing, 13 receiving). He again trails Foster, who leads the league with 67 first downs.
Chris Kluwe is 12th in gross punting average at 44.5 yards per punt. Chicago's Brad Maynard is 31st at 38.7 yards.
Kluwe is second in net punt average at 42.2 yards, behind only Oakland's Shane Lechler (42.4 yards). Maynard is 27th at 34.7 yards.
Devin Hester leads the league in punt return average at 15.9 yards. Greg Camarillo is 13th at 9.3 yards.
Danieal Manning is 17th in the league in kickoff returns (24.9 yards). Harvin is 20th at 24.4 yards.
Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 68.9 against the Bears. Only two QBs with enough passes to qualify have a lower rating – Derek Anderson of the Cardinals (67.0) and Matt Moore of the Panthers (55.6).
The Bears aren't big on offensive halftime adjustments. Through eight games, they have scored just seven points in the third quarter, while allowing 28. The Vikings have scored 48 points in the third quarter.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.