Much of the focus on today’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears will center on two players who will never be on the field at the same time – running backs Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte.
Peterson was the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft. Forte was a second-round pick the following season. Since both arrived with their respective teams, they have been the centerpieces of their respective offenses, despite playing in an era where the passing game has replaced the go-to running back as the most effective way to move the ball, score and, in theory, win games.
Because Peterson missed 15 games last season due to suspension, the two have played almost an identical amount of games – 113 for Forte, 110 for Peterson. Their production is also strikingly similar.
Peterson has a decided edge in career rushing yards – 10,720 to Forte’s 8,211 – but Forte levels the playing field as a receiver – his 3,918 yards is more than double Peterson’s 1,816.
When it comes down to the bottom line, through their careers Peterson and Forte have combined to provide almost 25,000 yards of offense to their teams, with Peterson holding the edge with 12,536 yards from scrimmage to Forte’s 12,129.
Today the two will meet on the same field at the same time for the 10th time in their careers. Considering what is at stake, despite both of them being viewed as having reached their peak as NFL players, perhaps no two players will be as important to determining who wins and who loses.
In an era where the franchise running back appears to be an endangered species, fans of the Vikings and Bears will see a comparative battle that has been waged since 2008. Considering the changes that are taking place in the NFL and the expiration date of running backs, it may not be much longer that we see two division running backs waging war as often and as effectively as the twice-annual battle between Peterson and Forte.
VIKINGS-BEARS BY THE NUMBERS
- The Vikings have the 30th ranked offense in the league (6th rushing, 30th passing) and the seventh-ranked defense (13th rushing, 11th passing).
- The Bears have the 27th-ranked offense (16th rushing, 24th passing) and the 10th -ranked defense (25th rushing, 4th passing).
- Minnesota is averaging 326 yards of offense a game (197 passing, 129 rushing). Chicago is averaging 338 yards a game (226 passing, 112 rushing).
- The Vikings are allowing 339 yards a game (233 passing, 106 rushing). The Bears are allowing 345 yards a game (220 passing, 125 rushing).
- Minnesota is tied for 12th in takeaway/giveaway ratio at plus-2 (9 takeaways, 7 giveaways). Chicago is tied for 20th at minus-1 (7 takeaways, 8 giveaways).
- The Vikings are 26th in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on just eight of 19 possessions (42.1 percent). The Bears are 25th at 44.4 percent (eight touchdowns on 18 red zone possessions).
- Minnesota is fourth in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on just 8 of 18 possessions (44.4 percent). Chicago is 23rd at 61.9 percent (13 touchdowns in 21 possessions).
- Chicago is ninth in third-down offense, converting on 38 of 87 opportunities (43.7 percent). Minnesota is 23rd at 35.9 percent (28 of 78). The league average is 38.6 percent.
- Defensively, the Vikings are fifth in third-down defense, allowing conversions on 25 of 73 opportunities (34.2 percent). The Bears are 29th on third down at 45.6 percent ((36 of 79).
- Both Teddy Bridgewater and Jay Cutler have one 300-yard passing game.
- The Bears have allowed one 300-yard passer. The Vikings haven’t allowed a 300-yard passer.
- Stefon Diggs has both of the Vikings’ 100-yard receiving games. Alshon Jeffery has the only 100-yard receiving game for the Bears.
- Chicago has allowed three 100-yard receivers. The Vikings have allowed just one.
- Adrian Peterson has two 100-yard rushing games this season. Matt Forte has one.
- The Vikings have allowed two 100-yard rushers. The Bears have allowed one.
- Bridgewater is tied for 23rd in pass attempts (181), 22nd in completions (119), 12th in completion percentage (65.7), 25th in yards (1,339), 30th in touchdowns (5) tied for ninth in interceptions (4) and 18th in passer rating (87.7).
- Cutler is 27th in attempts (174), tied for 25th in completions (106), 25th in completion percentage (60.9), 28th in yards (1,231), tied for 25th in touchdowns (7), tied for ninth in interceptions (4) and 20th in passer rating (86.2).
- Cutler is 27th in fourth-quarter passer rating at 87.4. Bridgewater is 33rd at 70.7.
- Bridgewater is 11th in third-down passer rating at 96.3. Cutler is fourth at 114.0.
- Peterson is fourth in the league in rushing yards with 530 yards. Forte is sixth with 507.
- Martellus Bennett leads the Bears with 34 receptions, which ties him for 26th in the league. Mike Wallace leads the Vikings with 26 receptions.
- Diggs is 48th in receiving yards with 324, despite playing just three games while other leading receivers have played six or seven games.
- Forte is 36th in scoring among non-kickers with 20 points (three touchdowns and a two-point conversion). Peterson and Kyle Rudolph are tied for 37th at 18 points, scoring three touchdowns each.
- Blair Walsh is tied for 10th in scoring among kickers with 52 points – half of those coming in the last two games. He is tied for 10th with Bears kicker Robbie Gould.
- Forte is fourth in total yards from scrimmage with 698 (507 rushing, 191 receiving). Peterson is 10th with 631 (530 rushing, 101 receiving).
- Bears punter Pat O’Donnell is 12th in punting average at 46.9 yards. Jeff Locke is 29th at 42.6 yards. In net punting average, O’Donnell is 11th 41.7 yards. Locke is tied for 18th 40.0 yards.
- Marcus Sherels is 16th in punt return average at 8.7 yards. Chicago’s Marc Mariani is 17th at 8.6 yards.
- Mariani is eighth among the 14 kick returners with enough returns to qualify for league leadership with an average of 25.8 yards. Cordarrelle Patterson is ninth at 25.2 yards.
- Everson Griffen is tied for 14th in sacks with 4½. Pernell McPhee leads the Bears with four.