As discussed in yesterday’s column, losing Percy Harvin for the year leaves a gaping hole in Minnesota’s offensive production. Outside of Adrian Peterson the Vikings have been getting next to nothing from their skill players.
Last time these teams played Peterson carried 18 times for 108 yards, and unfortunately for Minnesota that probably won’t be enough to win. The Vikings have shown that they remain competitive when Peterson has monster games, so unless the Christian Ponder-Jerome Simpson connection starts heating up real soon the Vikings are going to need some big plays out of their lone source of offensive hope.
The Bears struggle with protecting the quarterback as much as any team, and this will likely be Minnesota’s plan of attack. Chicago will be looking to establish an early lead so they can give the ball to Matt Forte and grind this game out. The Bears are coming off of a heartbreaking home loss to Seattle and odds are that they will be out for blood. If Green Bay wins against Detroit they will hold onto the division lead, so Chicago needs this win just to stay neck and neck with the Packers.
Chicago will be without longtime middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, which no doubt has Peterson salivating. The Bears’ run stop unit isn’t as effective as is often assumed, ranking 10th in the NFL in yards per game. Without Urlacher they will be slightly vulnerable, so Peterson and Co. will look to take advantage of the middle of the field.
Prediction: I have an inclination to pick Minnesota for the upset but after a close loss the Bears will be ready to play. Chicago 27 Minnesota 17