Familiarity Breeds Contempt

The Vikings have a brutal schedule upon their return from their bye week, but with the team healing and the Bears coming off a physical matchup with the Packers Sunday night, the Vikings might have a slight advantage over a normal trip to Soldier Field.

The Vikings are feeling the pressure of being 1-3 and 0-2 in the division as they head into Chicago to face the Bears Sunday. After seeing potential wins slip away against the Lions and Chiefs, as well as a late opportunity to send the Packers game into overtime, the Vikings realize that they are a better team than their record would indicate. But they're also a team that isn't getting the big plays it needs at big times.

Center Matt Birk, who watched the Bears comeback win against the Packers Sunday night, said playing twice a year against the Bears has created a rivalry because both teams have made their bread and butter by running the ball on offense and creating turnovers on defense.

"There is definitely a lot of familiarity there," Birk said. "We know what kind of team they are and the kind of success they had the last few years. They've been on top of the division for awhile. We're going down there and they're coming off a big win. It will be a hostile environment like it always is. It's going to be a big test for us."

But the Vikings' trump card could be the scheduling of their bye week. In recent years, the league has abandoned the policy of putting teams from the same division on bye weeks at the same time – a process that could not create a competitive advantage if the teams simply played divisional opponents coming out of a shared bye week. Instead, the Vikings are coming in rested and ready and the Bears are coming off a tough Sunday night game with the Packers.

"Once you get into the season, there's never a bad time for a bye," Birk said. "You're always going to be sore and have bumps and bruises. We've been pretty fortunate that we're pretty healthy and were able to heal up over the bye. Will that be an advantage? We'll find out Sunday."

THURSDAY NOTES
* Any fears that Vikings fans had that the team would trade Mewelde Moore to the injury-riddled Buccaneers, who lost Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman in consecutive games, went by the boards Wednesday. The Bucs signed former Raider Zack Crockett to a one-year deal. Reports out of Tampa had the Bucs moving on after the Vikings asked for a third-round draft pick in exchange for Moore, while they were will willing to offer up no better than a sixth-round draft pick.
* Three Vikings – Tarvaris Jackson (groin), Dwight Smith (hamstring) and Ben Leber (ribs) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.
* Six Bears players didn't take part in any of Wednesday's practice, including starters WR Bernard Berrian (toe), DT Tommie Harris (knee), OT Jon Tait (ankle), CB Nathan Vasher (groin), CB Charles Tillman (ankle) and DT Darwin Walker (knee). A seventh starter – offensive lineman Ruben Brown (shoulder) participated on a limited basis.
* The Vikings signed CB Dee McCann to the practice squad Wednesday. McCann was a sixth-round draft pick of the Lions in 2006 and worked out with the Vikings last month.
* The Texans signed former Viking Adimchinobe Echemandu to help their struggling running back corps. Echemandu was signed to the practice squad.

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