Vikings-Bears Game Plan

With different goals for Sunday's late afternoon game, the Vikings and Bears may approach their playing time in different manners.


The Vikings are out of the playoffs, and the Chicago has locked into the No. 2 seed in the NFC, meaning this game could take on the feel of a preseason matchup.

It's uncertain how long Bears coach Lovie Smith will play his starters, and Vikings coach Mike Tice has made it clear he wants to get a look at some of his younger players.

Tice, however, is much more likely to go for the victory; Smith will want to avoid injuries at all costs, even if that means the Bears fail to get the series sweep of Minnesota.

Brad Johnson will start at quarterback for the Vikings, and while backup Shaun Hill could see action, that likely won't happen if the game remains close.

Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said he plans to stay with the status quo in his game plan and points out that many of the Vikings' younger players on his side of the ball have seen significant action this season.


  • Vikings NT Pat Williams vs. Bears C Olin Kreutz, if the latter plays. Williams had six tackles and two tackles for loss in the first meeting of the season against the Bears and proceeded to take a shot at Kreutz in the media. The Pro Bowl center fired back at Williams this week.

  • Rookie RT Marcus Johnson, if he returns, could have his hands full with Bears DLE Adewale Ogunleye. Both players could see limited action, but Ogunleye would provide a tough test. He leads the Bears with 10 sacks.


    The Vikings' offensive line could get both C Melvin Fowler and RT Marcus Johnson back on Sunday, providing some much-needed depth to a unit that dressed only six players in Baltimore. It was so bad that TE Jim Kleinsasser was prepared for emergency duty at right tackle.

    There is little doubt the loss of SLB Keith Newman over the past two games has been huge for the Vikings. Newman's ability to create havoc on the blitz has been sorely missed on the rare occasions when the Vikings bring additional rushers. Raonall Smith simply doesn't possess as much ability as Newman does.


    The game plan for the Bears is to be healthy for the playoffs. The Bears want to win the game. They want to set a franchise record for fewest points allowed by holding the Vikings to less than 19 points. They want RB Thomas Jones to get the 27 yards he needs for 1,300. And they want to sweep the NFC North. But mostly they want to be healthy for their first playoff game, which will be the weekend of Jan. 14-15.


    Bears QB Rex Grossman vs. the Vikings Field Turf, on which he suffered a non-contact ruptured ACL 15 months ago while diving into the end zone for his only NFL rushing touchdown.


    FB Bryan Johnson is out with a foot injury.

    MLB Brian Urlacher is probable after missing Wednesday's practice with "illness."

    CB Jerry Azumah (hip), RB Cedric Benson (knee), S Mike Green (shoulder), S Mike Brown (calf), WLB Hunter Hillenmeyer (thumb), C Olin Kreutz (ankle), DT Ian Scott (hamstring) and CB Charles Tillman (shoulder) are all questionable. All are expected to be able to play by Sunday but might not because of the unimportance of the game.

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