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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Preview

On Sunday, November 25, the Minnesota Vikings(6-4) will take on the Chicago Bears(7-3) at Soldier Field. The Vikings, with six wins against four losses, are a game behind both the Bears and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is technically tied with the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Seattle Seahawks for the second and last NFC wildcard spot. Both of whom have six wins against four losses. However, both the Seahawks and Bucs own a tie-breaker advantage over the Vikings, as a result of defeating them earlier in the season. Effectively, this places the Vikings a game behind both teams.

Minnesota appears to be catching Chicago at the right time. As the Bears have lost two games in a row. And will have a short week of rest and preparation for Sunday's game, as a result of playing Monday night in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the Vikings have had two weeks to recuperate, rest, and game-plan for the Bears. So, they should be fresh and ready to play Sunday.

In all likelihood, this is the biggest game of the season for the Vikes. And it is a winnable game for them. They will be the fresher team and Chicago is reeling. This is the type of game that you have to win if you want to make the playoffs.

If Minnesota wins, they will have a legitimate chance to not only make the playoffs, but also win the NFC North Division title.

However, if the Vikings lose to the Bears on Sunday, it would be devastating to the their playoff chances. Because after Sunday's game, the Vikings still have two games left with the Green Bay Packers(7-4); a home game against the Bears; and road games at the St. Louis Rams(3-6-1) and the Houston Texans(10-1).

Since Minnesota is likely to be favored in just one of those games(at St. Louis), Sunday's contest against Chicago is as close to a "must-win-game" as there is.

With that said, here are the keys to tomorrow's game for the Vikings:
  •  The D-Line must get pressure on the QB - Jay Cutler will be starting at QB for Chicago tomorrow. He will be making his return to the Bears' lineup after missing the past 1.5 games due to a concussion. Chicago gave up six sacks in their loss to San Fran on Monday. And their offensive line has looked horrendous all season. If the Vikings can get pressure on Cutler, with just their D-Line, it will allow them play zone coverage and keep seven guys back on defense. This will help keep Bears' WR Brandon Marshall contained. Also, Cutler, is prone to make mistakes and boneheaded throws when he is under duress. So, it would be ideal for the Vikings to have as many players as possible in coverage to nab Cutler's errant throws.
  • Capitalize on Cutler's Mistakes- Bears' QB Jay Cutler, is usually good for at least two-three bad throws into coverage a game. The Vikings have to take advantage and intercept those passes when Cutler makes them. They can ill-afford to drop them. If the Vikings' defense can give their offense a short field to work with a couple of times in this game, it would greatly aid Minnesota's chances for victory. The Vikings' offense is going to struggle to score points on this Bears' defense. Especially, if they have to drive the length of the field on the majority of their possessions. So, turning a short field into points is the best chance Minnesota has to win this game.
  • Get Kyle Rudolph involved between the 20's-  With Percy Harvin not playing, Rudolph, the Vikings tight-end, is the team's best available pass-receiver. The Vikings must involve him in the game-plan, in order, to keep the Bears from loading up 9-10 men in the box to stop Adrian Peterson. 
  • Attack Brian Urlacher- Urlacher, once a great player, and an 11-time pro bowler, is a shell of his former self. Minnesota should be looking to get the ball deep, down the middle of the field in the passing game. This is the part of the field that Urlacher is asked to patrol in the Bears' cover 2 defensive scheme. Sadly, for Chicago fans, he is unable to do so anymore. This is where Kyle Rudolph should come into play. If they can hit Rudolph or Jarius Wright in the seams of the Bear defense, they could run for days.
  • Rely on the run, but mix-up the play calls- Everyone knows the Vikings want to run the ball, and run it a lot. This is fine. The Bears have struggled against the run lately. As both San Fran and Houston had success running the ball on Chicago, in recent weeks. But the Vikings must mix in the pass on early-downs to keep the Bears defense honest. Effectively passing the ball in early down and distances will allow the Vikings running game some breathing room. Which will be key, if the Vikings are to win. Because we all know what Adrian Peterson can do, if he gets even the smallest of holes.
Prediction: Minnesota 20-Chicago 17
- Adrian Peterson ties Robert Smith's team record of five straight 100-yard rushing games, Jared Allen harasses Jay Cutler all game long, the Vikings force three turnovers and win the game.

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