Vikings-Bears game plan

The Bears have a pretty good pass defense, but Adrian Peterson could find the rush defense to his liking. We compare the three phases of each team and break down some of the matchups to watch.

VIKINGS

Brett Favre will be looking for his 24th career victory against a Bears team that actually has had some success against the pass this season. Chicago's defense ranks eighth in that category, giving up 197.8 yards per game.

Of course, this could be good news for the Vikings running game and Adrian Peterson in particular. That's because the Bears are 23rd vs. the run (122.3 yards per game). and Peterson has had some of his best days against Chicago.

Chicago, like most teams, will gear up to stop Peterson and thus could provide some opportunities for Favre to attack their defense through the air just as he has done to other opponents this season.

The Vikings, meanwhile, are coming off a game in which they were dominant against the run and gave up only 4 yards on the ground to a Seattle team that eventually gave up trying to get any yards on the ground. Minnesota has led the NFL in run defense the past three seasons and is now third in the league in that category.

Chicago's run game doesn't pose much of a threat, averaging only 89.3 yards. That puts the Bears 28th in the league and means Jay Cutler is going to try to need to get yards through the air. The Vikings do give up passing yards, but in their Tampa-2 scheme if their tackling is sound they can often keep the gains against them manageable.

BEARS

Realistically the Bears have little chance of winning this game without producing a major edge in turnovers. They got three against the Eagles last week, while allowing just one, yet they still lost at home.

Cornerback Charles Tillman has made forcing fumbles an art form, and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been prone to putting the ball on the ground.

But that potential edge for the Bears pales in comparison to the matchup at quarterback, where Brett Favre has been intercepted just three times and has an NFL-low interception percentage of 1.1. The Bears' Jay Cutler, on the other hand, has been picked off an NFL-high 18 times, so hoping to win the turnover battle may be futile.

The Bears' normally elite special teams have fallen off this season but are still solid, although no better than the Vikings'.

The Bears know they have to stop Adrian Peterson first, but their coverage in the secondary has been inconsistent at best, so they'll need to get extreme pass-rush pressure on Favre, and they've been unsuccessful at that for most of the season. The Vikings have given up a lot of passing yards, but a lot of those have come after they have raced to a big lead. Still, if Cutler gets protection, he could put up some numbers on a Minnesota pass defense that has just eight interceptions all year.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Vikings CB Cedric Griffin, who is tied for the team lead with two interceptions, vs. Bears QB Jay Cutler, who leads the NFL with 18 interceptions.
As a team the Vikings have only seven interceptions, tying them for 24th in the NFL. If ever there were a time for Griffin and company to be opportunistic this would be it. Cutler certainly hasn't been at fault on all of his interceptions but that doesn't mean he isn't throwing them, and it doesn't mean that a guy like Griffin couldn't look to make the most of an opportunity to add to Cutler's misery.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who has rushed for 554 yards and eight touchdowns in four games against Chicago, vs. Bears MLB Hunter Hillenmeyer, who has taken the place of the injured Brian Urlacher. Peterson's success against Chicago doesn't figure to stop on Sunday as he goes for his third 100-yard rushing game of the season. Hillenmeyer won't be the only one charged with helping to stop Peterson. The Bears figure to bring a safety into the box and defensive tackles Tommie Harris and Marcus Harrison are going to need to be effective at the line of scrimmage. The issue with Peterson is that while he has his share of short or negative-yard runs, he also is just as likely to bust one loose and that's what the Bears are going to have to guard against.

Bears LT Orlando Pace, who has struggled for much of the season with speed rushers, vs. Vikings DRE Jared Allen, who is second in the NFL with 10.5 sacks. Allen had 2.5 sacks vs. the Bears in the last meeting, Nov. 30, 2008, although John St. Clair was the Bears' left tackle in that game.

Bears RB Matt Forte, who is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry this season, vs. the Vikings' stout run defense, one of the NFL's best for years. Forte rushed for 96 yards on 22 carries in the last game against the Vikings, also at the Metrodome


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