Rivalry Breakdown

The rivalry between the Vikings and the Bears from its inception has been something akin to the rivalry between a hammer and a nail -- one finds its way to pounding on the other.

What makes a rivalry? In the case of the Vikings and Packers, it has been the back and forth that has seen the all-time series at or almost a dead heat despite being in progress for more than 45 years. In the case of the Vikes and the Pack, the rivalry has been led by Green Bay since last season. The Packers have won three straight and now hold a 47-45-1 advantage with the rivalry being within three games of even for more than a decade.

The rivalry with the Bears, however, has been a much different story. It has been marked by the dominance of one team over the other and a changing of the guard in this battle has often resulted in long-term dominance. Consider the following:

The Bears have won four of the last five meetings dating back 2004. Prior to that, the Vikings had won three of four. In 2001-02, the Bears won three straight games, but before that the Vikings had beaten Chicago in eight of nine games dating back to 1997. From the 1994 playoff meeting until 1997, the Bears won four of the meetings, including three straight at the Metrodome. From the time Denny Green came on board until the playoff loss at the end of the 1994 season, the Vikings won six straight times after the Bears had won four of six games from 1989 to 1991.

During the heyday of Mike Ditka, the Bears won eight of nine meetings from 1983-87. Prior to that, during the Bud Grant Administration, the Vikings posted a 24-6 record from 1969-81. From the Minnesota's arrival on the NFL scene, in which they beat the Bears in their first game as a franchise, Chicago won of 11 of the next 15 games before the Vikings' dominance – losing two and tying two in that span.

This remains a strong rivalry, but, unlike the Packers rivalry, one that has been dominated by one team or the other and, when the guard is changed, it seems like it lasts for a long time. A victory for the Vikings Sunday will not only be critical to their chances for the 2007 season, but could also mark yet another turn in the lopsided Bears-Vikings rivalry that has seen one team almost own the other.

SATURDAY NOTES
* Despite wanting to be a run-first "kick-ass" offense, the Vikings have been beaten in time of possession through four games, holding the ball for 28:31 and being on defense for 31:29 on average.
* The Bears' average time of possession is even worse, with opponents holding a 32:16 to 27:44 edge.
* The Vikes also have a disparity in third-down conversions, making good on 35.1 percent of their opportunities while allowing opponents to convert 43.1 percent of the time.
* The Bears have been outgained by more than 90 yards a game (345-254) and in 317 offensive plays run have averaged just four yards a play – a full yard less than the struggling Vikings offense.
* The Vikings' ground dominance that they built last year has continued with more than double the rush yards of their opponents. Despite facing run-happy offenses from Atlanta and Kansas City, the Vikings have averaged 135 yards rushing a game while allowing just 62 yards a game.
* As expected, the passing numbers continue to be troubling. The Vikings have managed just 178.3 yards and allowed opponents to gain 267 yards a game with an average QB completing 29 of 41 passes attempted in a game.
* The Vikings have yet to be outscored in any quarter of games. They hold a 14-7 scoring edge in the first quarter, are tied 16-16 in the second quarter, lead 16-13 in the third and 21-20 in the fourth. They have been outscored 3-0 in overtime (their OT loss to the Lions).
* Through the first three quarters of the Bears' games in 2007, they have outscored their opponents 63-57. In the fourth quarter, they have been outscored 58-24.
* The Bears have notched 17 sacks on defense, but have allowed just as many to their own quarterbacks.
* Through five games, only two Bears receivers (Bernard Berrian and Desmond Clark) have more than 10 receptions.
* Tarvaris Jackson has a passer rating of 40.0. To put that into perspective, Mewelde Moore has a passer rating of 39.6 and his only pass attempt was incomplete.
* Kicker Robbie Gould has never made a field goal of 50 yards or more in his career.


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