Matt Forte will be the focus for the Vikings, who realize how often he is on the field with the ball in his hands.
If there is one player the Vikings defense has to be concerned about today when they close out their 2014 season, it’s running back Matt Forte
. Although Forte has scored just two touchdowns against them in 12 games, you can’t deny his productivity.
In 12 career games, he has rushed 221 times for 955 yards and caught 46 passes for 322 yards. He clearly has the Vikings’ attention.
“He can do it all,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn
said. “He’s rushed for 1,000 yards this year and is pretty close to 100 receptions out of the backfield. Guys like that are rare. He does as much for that offense as just about any running back in the league. When I saw the list of Pro Bowl players, I was pretty shocked his name wasn’t on the list because he can hurt you in a lot of different ways.”
At a time when even the top featured backs in the league are on the field for just 70 percent of offensive snaps, Forte is a throwback to a bygone era. This season, the Bears offense has been on the field for 1,023 snaps. Forte has been on the field for 939 of them – a whopping 91.8 percent. In the games he hasn’t been at or near 100 percent of the snaps, it has almost always been the result of the Bears either being so far ahead or so far behind that they pull their starters.
The Vikings haven’t been lost on that because, as they watch film, they get the impression that the numbers reflect.
“That guy never leaves the field,” defensive end Brian Robison
said. “We have to account for him on every play because of how much they use him. Not only does he have just about all of their rushes as an offense, but he’s their leading receiver. We have to make sure we know where he is because they get him the ball so often. You have to keep an eye out for him, whether he’s running the ball or not.”
As the Vikings and Bears close out seasons that both of them feel they’ve underachieved, one guy who can’t hang his head is Forte. The Bears have lost twice as many games as they’ve won this season, but it hasn’t been his fault.
VIKINGS-BEARS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the league’s 26th-ranked offense (15th rushing, 27th passing) and the 15th-ranked defense (25th rushing, 8th passing).
The Bears have the 20th-ranked offense (26th rushing, 13th passing) and the 30th-ranked defense (16th rushing, 31st passing).
The only teams that have allowed more yards than Chicago’s defense are New Orleans and Atlanta.
Chicago has averaged 331 yards a game (242 passing, 89 rushing). Minnesota has averaged 316 yards a game (204 passing, 112 rushing).
The Vikings have allowed 350 yards a game (227 passing, 123 rushing). The Bears have allowed 382 yards a game (270 passing, 112 rushing).
The Vikings are tied for 14th in giveaway/takeaway ratio at even (19 giveaways, 19 takeaways). The Bears are tied for 22nd at minus-6 (29 giveaways, 23 takeaways).
Chicago is third in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 30 of 45 possessions (66.7 percent). Minnesota is 10th at 56.8 percent (21 touchdowns in 37 possessions).
Only two teams have fewer offensive red zone possessions than the Vikings – Tampa Bay (36) and Jacksonville (31).
The Bears are 14th in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 37 of 69 possessions (53 percent). The Vikings are 21st at 56.5 percent (26 TDs on 46 possessions).
Chicago has allowed far more red zone opportunities to opponents than any team in the league. Tennessee is second-worst 58 possessions allowed.
The Bears are 22nd in third-down offense, converting on 74 of 192 opportunities (38.5 percent). The Vikings are 23rd at 37.8 percent (74 of 196). The league average is 40.1 percent.
Defensively, the Bears are 19th on third down, allowing conversions on 77 of 186 opportunities (41.4 percent). The Vikings are 23rd at 42.6 percent (86 of 202).
The Vikings are second in average field position following a kickoff at the 24.8-yard line – three yards higher than the league average. Chicago is 19th with an average starting position of the 21.5-yard line.
Jay Cutler has four 300-yard passing games. Teddy Bridgewater has three.
The Vikings have allowed just two 300-yard passers this season. Chicago has allowed seven.
The Bears have eight 100-yard receiving games this year – three from Alshon Jeffery, two from Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte and one from Martellus Bennett.
The Vikings have three 100-yard receiving games – two from Jarius Wright and one from Charles Johnson.
Minnesota has allowed five 100-yard receivers. The Bears have allowed nine.
Both teams have three 100-yard rushing games. Forte has all three of Chicago’s. For Minnesota, Jerick McKinnon has two and Cordarrelle Patterson has one.
The Vikings have allowed four 100-yard rushers this season, including one of Forte’s. Chicago has allowed just one 100-yard rusher.
Cutler is 12th in the league in pass attempts (525), 10th in completions (347), eighth in completion percentage (66.1), 13th in yards (3,640), tied for 10th in TD passes (28), 32nd in interceptions (18) and 17th in passer rating (89.5).
Bridgewater is 24th in attempts (377), 23rd in completions (242), 12th in completion percentage (64.2), 24th in yards (2,730), 23rd in touchdown passes (13) 15th in interceptions (11) and 23rd in passer rating (84.9).
Bridgewater is 14th in fourth-quarter passer rating at 91.1. Cutler is 22nd with a fourth quarter passer rating of 83.2.
Bridgewater is 14th in third-down passer rating at 93.6. Cutler is 17th at 86.6.
Forte is 10th in the league in rushing with 987 yards. McKinnon still leads the Vikings with 538 yards, which ranks him 32nd.
The Bears have four players in the top 50 in receptions. Forte is sixth with 94, followed by Jeffery at 11th (83), Bennett is tied for 12th (82) and Marshall is tied for 44th (61). Greg Jennings leads the Vikings with 56 receptions, which ties him for 58th place.
Jeffery is 14th in receiving yards with 1,099. Bennett is 28th with 857, Forte is 37th with 785 and Marshall is 49th with 721. Jennings leads the Vikings with 697 yards, which places him 57th.
Matt Asiata and Forte are tied for 16th in scoring among non-kickers with 64 points – each scoring 10 touchdowns and scoring on two two-point conversions. Jeffery is tied for 19th with 60 points (10 touchdowns).
Blair Walsh is tied for 19th in scoring among kickers with 100 points. Robbie Gould leads the Bears with 55 points, which ranks him 32nd.
Walsh is eighth in touchbacks with 47. Gould is 29th with 21 touchbacks.
Forte is third in yards from scrimmage with 1,772 (987 rushing, 785 receiving). Asiata leads the Vikings with 774 yards (479 rushing, 295 receiving), which puts him in 71st place.
Jeff Locke is 21st in punting average at 44.6 yards. Chicago’s Pat O’Donnell is 29th with a 43.7-yard average.
Locke is 20th in net punting average at 38.9 yards. O’Donnell is 27th at 38.0 yards.
Marcus Sherels is seventh in punt-return average at 10.2 yards. No Bears return man has enough returns to qualify for the league lead.
Patterson is sixth in kickoff return average at 25.6 yards. Chris Williams is 12th with a 24.1 yard average.
Harrison Smith is tied for third in the league in interceptions with five.
Everson Griffen is eighth in sacks with 12. Willie Young is tied for 13th with 10.
Anthony Barr is tied for third in defensive fumble recoveries with three.
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