Following the prime time debacle, the Monday Night Massacre in MoTown, the Time Jay Cutler Nearly Died (again), the Bears are back in the prime slot this Week 6. And while Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, et al may find it easier to bottle up Adrian Peterson --no small feat, but the Bears do tend to cage him in; the woeful offensive line still has league sacks-leader, Jared Allen to contend with, read: More. Jay. Cutler. Headaches. Will the Bears fend off the desperate Vikings and stay within striking range of divisional leaders Green Bay and Detroit? Will any Bears receivers crack 65 yards in this game? Read on.
When The Vikings Have The Ball
The Vikings offense has for the past few seasons cranked and jived around the all-Universe talents of running back, Adrian Peterson. That fact hasn't changed at all this season, and even with Peterson being continually keyed in on by opposing defenses, the man just produces. He's a beneficent emperor whose energies are seemingly fueled by yardage the way that Galactus' power are fueled by his devouring of galaxies. Neither dude is evil or bad, they're just doing their jobs as well as they know how and if that so happens to involve your team being gashed for yards and touchdowns, OR your solar system being consumed, well, sorry, pal. Peterson's season thus far has been downright beastly, 6 touchdowns, 498 yards through 5 games, y'know, all-Universe productivity from All Day. The Vikings offense, by the way, has been abysmal with Donovan McNabb and the passing game averaging 155.5 yards per game. By the way, there are only 5 teams that aren't averaging at least 200 yards passing, yeah, Vikes offense without ADP = "OMG Teh SUC KZ." This is all good news for the cranky Bears defense which has absolutely looked out of sorts the past few weeks, mind you against Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford. The front seven (particularly the defensive line) should get their confidence again by trying to manhandle the "meh" offensive line of Minnesota and get the occasional mauling of Donovan McNabb in as Peterson does his thing to an extent. Still, Urlacher, Briggs and the linebackers have, seriously, slowed Peterson down the past few seasons. With, umm, Percy Harvin being the only receiving threat right now for the Vikes, the maligned and often terrible Bears secondary should get something of a reprieve this week. Maybe Brandon Merriweather will try to shoot someone on field to liven things up, but this game is all about stopping Adrian Peterson. *Don't shoot Adrian Peterson, Brandon Merriweather.
When The Bears Have The Ball
Chicago's offense, as it has been for going on five seasons, starts, stalls and stops with the crumminess of the offensive line. Say all you want about no good receivers or Jay Cutler being a "quitter" or Mike Martz being a drunkard, there's no consistency, no punch and no edge to the Bears offensive line. Jared Allen very well could end Jay Cutler's career on Sunday night --I'm writing your copy for you, Al Michaels and NBC! Still, the dynamic tank man, Matt Forte, has been pulverizing defenses even while playing behind no offensive line (he's been nothing short of a revelation in the short passing game this season.) If Cutler and Forte can continue their efforts even in the face of overwhelming adversity and an o-line that's continually got their feet stuck in quicksand the offense should manage to score enough points to win the game. Another aspect, if the Bears o-line can give Cutler the time, is what can the receivers do against the shaky Vikings secondary. Knox, Hester, Roy Williams and crew aren't by any means, "world-beaters," but if Cutler can get the time to deliver the ball to his wideouts, Forte should be afforded even more room to roam.
So there you have it, a pithy take on how this game will go. Whichever defense stops the other team's star running back will very likely win the game. Insight, folks.
The Bears Game Isn't On 'Til 7:20, What Else Is On?
As always, thanks to the super cool The 506. The early CBS game is Bills-Giants, which in an abstract sort of way has me thinking that it'd be really stupid for NFL teams to have game trophy for in-state rivals. What sort of trophies? Idiotic trophies.
- Buffalo-New York Giants-New York Jets: The Tri-State, Triple Crown of Jackass Fans. Save for Buffalo fans. Buffalo and its fans? You're cool with me. Giants and Jets fans? Less so. Much less so.
- Cincinnati-Cleveland: The Nobody CaresTrophy. Nobody in Ohio cares about any football teams or sports aside from the Ohio State Football University Buckeyes of Crookedness or something. I grew up in Ohio, believe me, more people care about the Detroit Lions than the "new" Cleveland Browns.
- Miami-Tampa Bay-Jacksonville: Move to LA already, Jacksonville. We already have a trophy for menage a trois and it belongs to the people of New York/New Jersey. Also, Florida is terrible. Hurry up, global warming, this state has to become less inhabitable and more drownable.
- Dallas-Houston: The Perpetually Overly Optimistic Pre-season Projected Teams Trophy. Oh, Dallas and Houston, how many years in a row must you two teams trick pundits and journos into thinking you'll not be ravaged by injuries and uneven play on both sides of the ball.
- Oakland-San Francisco: The I Sorta Think This Would Be A Fun Annual Game --Oh, Wait, Chris Berman Just Ruined It By Callilng It "The Battle of The Bay Of Pig(Skins) of The Bay Area Trophy." This would be sort of an okay annual match, but, yeah, Berman would totally ruin it, then I would have to break my TV with a bat. Then I wouldn't be able to watch football [requisite frowny face emoticon]
In any case, wow! that was a digression, the early game on FOX is St Louis @ Green Bay and I actually think the Rams will give the Packers a run. Stephen Jackson is healthy, GB's secondary is active but capable of being burned and the Rams can't suck continually. What I'm trying to say is that this game will be better than Buffalo-New York Giants. The late afternoon game is the Dallas Cowboys visiting Foxboro and the New England Patriots. I expect Tom Brady to destroy the Cowboys secondary. This game will get ugly. Maybe? It's the NFL, predictions are tricky and pointless.
In any case, the weather at Soldier Field for the Sunday Nighter is calling for showers during the day (expect a damp, soft field at Soldier) and chilly weather with winds and temperatures in the 40s. Bundle up if you're going and have fun.