Vikings-Bears game plan
The Vikings are pretty much playing out the string at this point, and doing it in the frigid conditions of TCF Bank Stadium on Monday night will make it interesting to see what happens.
Rookie Joe Webb is starting this game at quarterback, and there is little doubt the conditions would favor the Bears, who are used to playing in cold weather.
TCF Bank Stadium does not have heating coils in its field, so while the first assumption is that the running game might be relied on in the cold Minnesota conditions, players could be slipping and sliding all over the place.
The Vikings looked lethargic in their loss to the Giants last Monday night, a game that was played in Detroit, and the key for interim coach Leslie Frazier will be keeping his players engaged now that a playoff berth is off the table.
The Bears, meanwhile, are leading the division and coming off an embarrassing loss to the Patriots, so they will be looking to take their anger out on somebody.
It will be interesting to see how the Vikings approach this game and how much enthusiasm they take into it.
Defensively the Bears always want to stop Adrian Peterson first and foremost when they face the Vikings. That's even more of a priority this week, with Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson both out because of injuries. That being said, they still need to get more pass-rush pressure than they did against Tom Brady, especially with the four linemen.
Offensively, the ground game, which had been showing signs of improvement, needs to get revitalized after taking a step back last week against the Patriots. Part of the problem was the lopsided score in favor of New England, but even early in the game, the ground attack wasn't a factor. Especially with additional cold-weather games on the horizon at home against the Jets and on the road against the Packers, not to mention possible playoff games, the Bears need to recommit to the run.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie vs. Bears DE Julius Peppers. Peppers has given McKinnie fits in the past, but in the teams' first meeting this year, he was held without a sack. Of course, the next game Peppers came back and got three sacks against Miami. That gives him eight for the season. Peppers won't only be going against McKinnie. He also moves to the left end at times and could match up against right tackle Phil Loadholt. Shutting out Peppers for the season is going to be a tall order.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Bears LB Brian Urlacher. The Bears held Peterson to 51 yards on 17 carries in their first meeting, but just as with Peppers, containing Peterson again won't be easy. Peterson has had some big days against the Bears, but with the defensive tackles and Urlacher clogging up the middle, Chicago will look to contain the Pro Bowl running back again. Peterson will have plenty of motivation after the Giants held him to a season-low 26 yards on 14 carries last Monday. The Giants flooded the box with defenders, and the Bears likely will try to do the same.
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