Bears say playoff bid trumps location vs Vikings
The Chicago Bears would like to think they have an edge over the Minnesota Vikings if their Monday night game is played outdoors.
The NFL spent part of Wednesday reviewing the Vikings' plan to play the game at the University of Minnesota's outdoor stadium because repairs to the snow-damaged roof of the Metrodome won't be done in time.
The Bears beat the Vikings 27-13 on Nov. 13 and a win in the rematch could give them the NFC North title.
''The biggest thing is we've got to play the Vikings this week,'' long snapper Patrick Mannelly said. ''We're not playing conditions or stadiums, we're playing the Vikings. So, first and foremost, we've got to worry about them and then we'll go from there.''
The Bears own a 16-9 record in outdoor cold weather games in December and January under coach Lovie Smith and have won 10 straight outdoors in those conditions against dome or warm-weather teams.
Forecasts for Monday night in Minneapolis call for single-digit temperatures and subzero wind chills.
''Wherever it is, if it's in the parking lot, we'll both be on the same parking lot playing, and both teams have to adjust,'' Bears defensive end Israel Idonije said.
Bears players and coaches on Wednesday said they had not yet been officially notified the game will be at the university's TCF Bank Stadium. The NFL was touring the facility to make sure it was safe and met various league standards.
Some Bears did like the idea of playing outside against the Vikings, even if they are coming off a disastrous 36-7 loss at Soldier Field to New England in the snow and wind Sunday.
''I think it's tough (playing Minnesota) either way, but I think by us playing outside we're a little more used to being in those kind of elements than they are,'' running back Matt Forte said.
The Patriots play outdoors and looked in their element in burying the Bears.
''In Soldier Field, we were at home, and we're supposed to use that type of weather and field to our advantage and it didn't look like it,'' Forte said. ''I was very surprised.''
Idonije said a factor Monday might be the condition of the artificial surface itself. TCF Bank Stadium has FieldTurf, but it was under snow and there are no heating coils beneath the field surface. The Bears' defensive line had trouble getting a pass rush on snow-covered Soldier Field grass against the Patriots' Tom Brady.
However, Idonije called the chance to win the division title and make the playoffs for the first time since 2006 a bigger concern than the field.
''Playoffs are coming and you can't afford to take steps backward,'' he said. ''So the real focus is winning this game and defense, playing our best, offense being the best, special teams dominating the field position battle and letting everything else kind of sort itself out from there.''