Vikings-Bears game plan

The Vikings may be good at running the ball, but the Bears are good at defending it as well. The opposite is true when the Vikings want to pass the ball. Get the vibe from both camps, along with some matchups to watch.

VIKINGS

Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte threw for a season-high 298 yards and had two touchdowns in the Vikings' 48-41 loss to Chicago on Oct. 19 at Soldier Field. Frerotte, though, also threw four interceptions in the defeat.

His passing yardage has decreased in each game since and was at a season-low 120 yards last Sunday in the Vikings' 30-12 victory over Jacksonville. This could be a good time for Frerotte to re-establish the passing game.

The Bears are ranked 30th in the NFL against the pass, giving up an average of 244.2 yards per game. The Vikings' bread-and-butter remains their run game - its ranked fifth in the league (137.9 yards per game) - but Chicago's defense is No. 5 against the run. The Bears are giving up only 80.7 yards a game.

The Vikings, of course, have Adrian Peterson, who has had some standout games against Chicago.

All of this should set up a strength vs. strength situation, but the Vikings will be in far better shape to run the ball if they can keep Chicago's defense on its heels by getting a few downfield passes to Bernard Berrian.

Bears quarterback Kyle Orton had an excellent game against the Vikings in the first meeting, throwing for 283 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

The Vikings will hope the noise in the Metrodome will rattle Orton, and they also will try to take advantage of the fact he's playing in only his third game since returning from an ankle injury. The Vikings only got two sacks against Orton in Chicago but have been far more effective at getting to opposing quarterbacks at home.

Orton will need to be sharp, given that the Vikings run defense is one of the best in the NFL and gave up only 53 yards to Chicago in the first meeting.

BEARS

The Bears want to run the ball, especially with rookie Matt Forte coming off a career-best 139-yard effort last week, but the Vikings have allowed only three opponents more than 80 yards on the ground this season, and the Bears managed just 53 yards on 22 attempts in the first meeting. It's much more likely that the Bears will rely on Kyle Orton's passing to move the ball, and he will be looking to regain the impressive form that he exhibited in the first eight games of the season before an ankle injury caused him to miss one game. Since returning, Orton hasn't been as sharp, but he has now gone six-plus games without throwing an interception.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Vikings WR Bernard Berrian vs. Bears secondary - Berrian had six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown in his first game against his former team in October. The Bears were shorthanded in the secondary for that one. Sunday, Berrian will be matched up against either Charles Tillman or Nathan Vasher. Given that this game will be played in prime time, Berrian certainly will be looking to make an impact. He has been quiet of late, held to only four catches in the past four contests.

Vikings RT Artis Hicks vs. Bears LE Adewale Ogunleye: Hicks, who missed practice Wednesday because of an injury to his right elbow suffered Sunday in Jacksonville, is expected to make his second career start at the position and will get a tough matchup going against Ogunleye. Ogunleye leads Chicago with 41/2 sacks. Hicks, who replaced Ryan Cook at right tackle last Sunday, has had his most success playing on the left side and isn't as comfortable on the right. If Hicks can't play, Cook will get the start.

Vikings LBs Chad Greenway, Ben Leber and Napoleon Harris vs. Bears TEs Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark: Minnesota's linebackers can expect to see plenty of passes aimed at Chicago's tight ends. In the Vikings first game against Chicago, Olsen led the Bears with six catches, while Clark caught three. Olsen also caught a touchdown pass. This actually began a trend of opponents going to their tight ends against the Vikings. There is no reason to believe Chicago won't keep up something that worked for them the first time around.

Bears ORG Josh Beekman vs. Vikings DT Kevin Williams - Beekman, a first-year starter, will face a Pro Bowl tackle in Williams. He had had five tackles in the first meeting. Beekman will also sometimes be one-on-one with the Vikings' other Pro Bowl DT, Pat Williams.


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