Must Win Again?

The Vikings come into today's game with the Chicago Bears in need of a victory or the problems they've had in the season's first month could take a back seat to those that could come with a team divided.

The Vikings came into the 2005 season with everything looking to be in the their favor. And why not? The division didn't look to have another team that could make an argument for being better than .500. The team had uncharacteristically spent millions in the offseason to add talent like Fred Smoot, Pat Williams, Darren Sharper and Travis Taylor. And Mike Tice and the coaching staff were heading into the final year of their contracts, giving the team even more impetus for a strong start.

So what's happened? They've been one of the worst teams in the league -- dropping three of their first four games and in danger of falling even deeper into a hole.

The clear reality is that only one team is coming out of the NFC North this year to the 2005 playoffs. If the Vikings want to be that team, winning today becomes of top importance. They're still the best team on paper in the division. It's time to show that they're the best team on turf instead of just on paper.

* Travis Taylor leads the Vikings with 215 receiving yards -- less than half the total Randy Moss has with the Raiders.
* Three of the Vikings' next four games are against division opponents.
* The Vikings come into the game with the 24th ranked offese -- 26th rushing and 13th passing. The Bears defense is rated third overall -- fourth vs. the run and seventh vs. the pass.
* The Bears offense is 27th in the league -- ninth rushing and 30th passing, while the Vikings have the 30th rated defense -- last vs. the run and 14th vs. the pass.
* The last time these two teams met, since-released QB Chad Hutchinson made his first NFL start and burned the Vikings for three TD passes in a 24-14 Bears win.
* VU would like apologize for an implication that would tie the national television coverage by the Bill O'Reilly types of the medium with the fine programming done by Keith Olbermann at MSNBC. His mention was merely showing the extent to which the media has embraced the Vikings boat scandal and in no way meant to sully the good name -- and snappy suitcoats -- of Mr. Olbermann and his witty, urbane social commentary.
* The Bears have allowed opponents to score a touchdown in just one of nine trips into the Red Zone this year.
* Troy Williamson leads all rookies with 166 receiving yards.
* Paul Edinger is the road kicker this week, but knows all the ins and outs of Soldier Field. Bears kicker Robbie Gould is making his first appearance at the ballyard today.
* This is the 89th meeting between the teams. The Vikings lead the all-time series 47-39-2.
* The home team has won the last seven meetings in the series.
* ESPN is running a fan vote to give approval ratings for NFL coaches. Mike Tice's rating currently stands at 11 percent. While the Bears have an identical 1-3 record, Lovie Smith's approval rating is 48 percent.
* Marcus Robinson hasn't caught more than three passes in any game this season.

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