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Preview: Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears

by Dan Gunderson

The Minnesota Vikings visit the Chicago Bears on Sunday, September 13 in the second straight NFC North matchup for the Vikings. The purple are coming off an ugly 34-24 loss to the Detroit Lions to open the season.

If the Vikes wish to shake the negativity that surrounds their opening season loss, they need to get back to what made them a playoff team last season, which is run the ball effectively. That is much easier said than done if you are facing a defense that will consistently put eight in the box.

The Bears will not deviate from that strategy and will force quarterback Christian Ponder to make plays through the air. Ponder has proven that inconsistent in these situations and that is the reason many Vikings fans have started to clamor for a change at quarterback just one week in to the 2013 season.

While Ponder deserves some of the blame for last week’s loss, he is not entirely to blame for the poor performance. The offensive line could not block from Adrian Peterson, the defense could not stop Reggie Bush and the offense could not hold onto the ball.

The luxury, if you can call it that, is the Vikings will be playing a team with similar players at the wide receiver, running back and quarterback positions. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has the same type of style of play as Lions QB Matthew Stafford.

Running back Matt Forte for the Bears is a duel threat type of back who can run just as effectively as he can make catches out of the back field. The big time threat at wide receiver is Brandon Marshall, who had eight catches for 104 yards and a score last week.

The Vikings did a good job of shutting down the Lions big time receiver Calvin Johnson and will need to replicate that performance against Marshall. Pressure on Cutler will be key to this as well as Cutler is not the type of QB to make plays on the move.

If the Vikings can contain Forte to half the output Bush had against them last week, their chances of winning will increase tenfold. The problem in the end, however, lies with the offense. The Vikings will be looking to run 70 percent of the time. In order for this to work, the offensive line has to show up.

After an opening season run of 78 yards for AP, the MVP had 15 yards on the next 17 carries. The O-line will have to be more aggressive in order to get AP running down hill. Last season, Peterson had over a 1,000 yards rushing after contact. Get him running with a full head of steam he will have a good chance of making it to the second level.

Even though this game is in the Windy City, the Vikings still have a good shot at winning this game. Ball control, a quick start and strong offensive line play are going to be the keys for the Vikings to come out on top in this one.

Prediction: Vikings 23 Bears 20

I think the Vikings will bounce back from an opening season loss with a big division road win over the Bears. Cutler will throw a decisive interception in the fourth quarter that will allow the Vikings to put the game away.