The Vikings struggled both offensively and defensively against Carolina last Sunday night and need to get back on track. Quickly.
Running back Adrian Peterson has gone a career-high five games without a 100-yard rushing performance and one reason is because the run blocking hasn't been consistent enough of late.
Peterson and his linemen should get another chance to pound the ball in this game, going against a Bears run defense that is 25th in the NFL and has given up 128.5 yards per game.
The Bears are much better against the pass and considering this game is going to be played on a Monday night in Chicago, it would seem wise for Minnesota to get back to running the football.
Defensively, the Vikings must make a quick improvement when it comes to tackling. Their fundamentals against Carolina were terrible and there would be no quicker way to get ousted from the playoffs than to continue to struggle in this area.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield is among those who is going to have to rebound. Quarterback Jay Cutler has had a difficult season but might try to test the Vikings pass defense, especially by going to big tight end Greg Olsen.
Four weeks ago, the Bears focused on containing Peterson, and they were fairly successful, limiting him to 85 yards on 25 carries. But Brett Favre scorched them for 392 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Bears will still look to stop Peterson first, counting on Favre being less effective outdoors in Soldier Field than he was inside the Metrodome.
Last week the Bears finally made an attempt to run the ball — 23 times in the first half — but had to abandon that tactic after falling behind 28-7 early in the third quarter. They have to do a better job of running than they did in the first meeting when the Bears had a total of 43 rushing yards.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie, who was benched in the second half last Sunday against Carolina because of his poor performance, vs. Bears RDE Alex Brown, who has four sacks this season. McKinnie's performance against the Panthers was his worst in a long time and he needs to get back on track. He isn't the only one. The rest of the offensive line also struggled against the Panthers. Brown hasn't had a sack since Week 9 but clearly will be hoping to add to that total against McKinnie.
Vikings MLB Jasper Brinkley, who will be making his third-career start, vs. Bears QB Jay Cutler, who has an NFL-high 25 interceptions. Brinkley is making the adjustment to being the middle linebacker in the Vikings' Tampa-2 scheme and thus is likely going to be the target of quarterbacks who know his job is to drop into coverage. Veteran E.J. Henderson had plenty of experience doing this but Brinkley doesn't and Cutler is going to know it. Look for the Bears to run some patterns to try to exploit Brinkley's inexperience.
Bears LT Chris Williams, who is expected to start his fourth straight game on the left side, vs. Vikings DRE Jared Allen, who has 6.5 sacks in his last three games against the Bears. Williams started the first 11 games at right tackle.
Bears defensive line, which will be without the team's leading sacker, DLE Adewale Ogunleye (fractured fibula), vs. Vikings QB Brett Favre, who completed 32 of 48 passes for 392 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 112.5 against them in the last meeting, four weeks ago. Favre was sacked just once in that game.
Vikings-Bears game plan
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