The Vikings' 2-0 start has put them in a position to play host to one of the NFL's marquee matchups in Week 3. Division rival Chicago Bears, also 2-0, will visit the Metrodome on Sunday.
The Bears, the defending champions in the division, have looked like an offensive juggernaut, beating NFC North foes Green Bay and Detroit by a combined score of 60-7. "That's not against us though. That's not against us," Sharper said when asked about the Bears' scoring output.
Sharper isn't predicting a victory, but he did make it clear that he expects the score to be more along the lines of 19-16 or 16-13. Those were the scores of the Vikings' opening two games against Washington and Carolina. The latter game went into overtime and ended with Ryan Longwell's 19-yard field goal.
"We usually play well against [against Chicago] and I kind of predict we'll have another game like we did today," Sharper said after the victory over Carolina. "[It will be a] low- scoring, defensive battle. If we have to win that way, we'll win that way. We're just going to comeback and keep plugging away."
The Vikings, who finished last season on a 7-2 run and are 9-2 in their past 11, have made Brad Childress the first head coach in franchise history to win his first two games.
This has been done with workmanlike performances on both sides of the ball and a willingness to make adjustments. Such was the case on defense against the Panthers.
Coordinator Mike Tomlin, who had spent the past five seasons as the defensive backs coach in Tampa Bay, knew Carolina would expect the Vikings to play the traditional Tampa-2 scheme. The Panthers and Buccaneers are NFC South rivals and the Panthers had seen this plenty of times before.
So Tomlin called far more blitzes more than expected — the Tampa-2 usually calls for the front four to get most of the pressure — in an effort to rattle the Panthers and their banged-up offensive line. By one estimate, the Vikings blitzed 60 percent of the time against Carolina, and almost always on third down, after blitzing 40 percent of the time against the Redskins.
"We do what we feel is necessary to win," Tomlin said. "We felt like that gave us an edge. We knew the situation that they were in from a personnel standpoint with their offensive line. So we did what we had to do to win."
And now the Vikings have a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the NFC North on Sunday.
"It's big," Sharper said of the Chicago game. "If we can get this one it would really set us up. You want to shoot to go 16-0, you know it's going to be a one-game season each and every weekend."
Vikings-Bears Marquee Matchup in Week 3?
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