Dec 20, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Joe Berger (61) gets ready to snap the ball in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
To help us prepare for the Bears vs Vikings, we’ve enlisted the help of our friends from The Viking Age with our weekly Five Questions post.
The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings wrap up Week 8 on the NFL schedule. With both the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions losing on Sunday, it creates an opportunity for the Vikings to open up their lead of the NFC North or allow the Bears to try to play spoiler and tighten up the division race. Bears vs Vikings on Halloween night could be full of tricks and treats.
For the 1-6 Chicago Bears, it’s been a struggle all season. Injuries have killed the Bears on both sides of the ball. Jay Cutler, who’s been sidelined since Week 2, makes his return amid another mild quarterback controversy. Brian Hoyer, who filled in for Cutler, seemed to spark the offense. But while Hoyer moved the ball and piled up some yardage, he only managed to guide the Bears to one win.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears have been without one of their most dominant pass rushers for the first six weeks of the season as Pernell McPhee was on the PUP list until last week. Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, cornerback Kyle Fuller and other key defenders have missed time as Vic Fangio’s unit comes together in Year 2 of their program.
For the Vikings, it’s been nearly a perfect start to the season. They come to Soldier Field and only lost their first game last week. The Vikings have overcome some pretty big injuries of their own. They lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason to a devastating knee injury. All-World running back Adrian Peterson went down early in the season with an injury of his own. Yet the Vikings have barely missed a beat.
How have they overcome this adversity? What can the Bears expect from Sam Bradford? Who or what has been the key to their top-ranked defense? Who are some under the radar players that might have an impact on Monday night’s game? What’s the prediction for the game? To help us answer these questions, we enlisted the help of Adam Carlson from our sister site The Viking Age to answer our Five Questions.
Sep 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) is injured during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Packers 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
1. The Vikings have overcome a lot of adversity this season to get off to a great start. What’s the biggest obstacle they’ve overcome and how were they able to overcome it?
Oddly, the Vikings were prepared for several of the obstacles that were presented to them early on. When Bridgewater went down, the team went to get Bradford. When Peterson went down, they still had McKinnon and Asiata. But the biggest problem they have yet to overcome is the injuries to the offensive line.
Three offensive tackles have been lost since start of training camp, as Kalil, Loadholt, and Smith all were gone with injuries. Minnesota has yet to find an answer to the issue, but are trying everything they can to work with it, including signing former #1 overall pick Jake Long.
Oct 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) in the huddle first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
2. What can the Bears expect from the Vikings offense? Who’s the one player the Bears have to stop to slow down the Vikings offense?
Honestly, not a lot of good things. Minnesota is putting up an abysmal 2.6 yards per carry, which is the absolute worst in the NFL. As far as the passing game goes, Sam Bradford has proven that he can be accurate and make good decisions with the ball, but only when he has time.
Against the Eagles, the offensive line failed to get a strong push for the run game or protect their quarterback, so the success of the offense could hinge on the play of the Vikings left tackle, whether it is T.J. Clemmings or Jake Long.
Sep 25, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on during the first half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
3. The Vikings defense is the top rated in the league, letting up only about 280 yards per game. What or who has been a key to their success? What kind of welcoming party do they have planned for the returning Jay Cutler?
The key to the Minnesota Vikings defensive success is easy: head coach Mike Zimmer. Zimmer has been known to draw up some interesting plays to force teams into accounting for players who may or may not be showing what they are actually going to be doing.
Using a combination of a deep defensive line with a stingy secondary, Minnesota has built themselves a defense that the NFC North should be fearing for years. Expect nothing different for when the Vikings take on Jay Cutler, as the defensive game plan should remain the same.
Oct 9, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) catches a pass against the Houston Texans for a touchdown in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
4. Name an under the radar Vikings player on each side of the ball who will have an impact on Monday night’s game. Why will they make a big impact?
By now, it’s hard to call any of the Vikings breakout players ‘under the radar’ anymore. Offensively, Adam Thielen is having a career year and will likely continue to be one of Sam Bradford’s most reliable targets for the remainder of the season.
Defensively, It’s Danielle Hunter, whose athleticism and speed make him a mismatch for most offensive linemen to handle. Both of these guys have received media attention in the past, but haven’t quite become stars in the league quite yet.
Oct 9, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans Syd Davy cheers on his team against the Houston Texans at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
5. What’s your prediction for the game? Please include a final score.
Any time there is an NFC North matchup, things are going to get messy. However, the Bears don’t match up against the Vikings as well as the Eagles do, so I don’t see a repeat performance of Minnesota’s first loss of the season happening this week. I do predict that the Minnesota Vikings will come out victorious during the game, but it will be a one score game at the end. Minnesota wins 24-17.
A big thanks to Adam from The Viking Age for his help getting us up to speed for Bears vs Vikings. Be sure to check out my answers to his questions and get any insider Vikings info at The Viking Age.