Fresh from an impressive 24-21 win over a talented Cinncinati team expected to challenge in the AFC North, the Chicago Bears turn to a familiar foe Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. The Minnesota (0-1) Vikings visit, hoping to atone for an ugly season-opening loss to Detroit.
While the Bears had their moments, including a clutch 19-yard go-ahead toucdown from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall, there is much room for improvement. The running game was stifled throughout most of the contest, with RB Matt Forte only able to squeak out 50-yards on 19 carries.
On defense, the pass rush, a supposed Bears strength entering the year, was non-existent save for ac couple plays from Stephen Paea and a Shea McClellin sack. Additionally, the Bears gave up three long drives of 97, 91, and 80 yards.
The limping Vikings will look to exploit the Bears “D” with the running of Adrian Peterson. Peterson got off to a quick start last week, rushing for a 78-yard TD on his very first carry of the 2013 season, but fiinished with just 18 more rushing yards. The Bears could be susceptible to the run, especially up the middle, and if they can’t contain Peterson, the Vikings will be able to control the clock and limit the plays needed by QB Christian Ponder. The former Florida State product, now in his third year, was uneven last week and appeared out of sync. Ponder guided the Vikes to a playoff berth in 2012, but many believe they overachieved.
A win Sunday would give the Bears a quick 2-0 start and position them well as contenders in the NFC North. Bears head coach Marc Trestman could steal a page from the LIons playbook and use Forte in the short-passing game, much like Detroit did with Reggie Bush. Forte’s versatility adds value and appears tailor-made for the Bears offense, an advantage for a Chicago unit that is steadily growin in playmakers.
Extra Points: Both teams appear relatively healthy. CB Charles Timman and DE Pepers were limited in practice some this week due to illness and genreal soreness, but are expected to start/play Sunday. Minnesota DT Kevin Williams is expected to play…..The Vikings are 1-10 in their last 11 trips.