One man's prediction: Chicago 24, Vikings 20 The Vikings have enough in the tank to stay competitive until the end, but they still haven't proven they can be consistent and error-free on the road, as losses in Washington and Seattle showed. That includes quarterback Christian Ponder, whose decision-making and pocket presence will need to be perfect for an upset to occur.
With top receiver Percy Harvin out (sprained ankle), the Vikings offense must remember the balance it showed two weeks ago against Detroit. Coordinator Bill Musgrave will likely lean on Adrian Peterson early and often. But there must also be an effort to involve such playmakers as Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright and, most important, Kyle Rudolph. The second-year tight end will have to maximize his opportunities to get open against Chicago's safeties.
Still waiting on that feisty Bears defense to be over the hill? After all, the Bears have five starters older than 30 in Brian Urlacher (34), Lance Briggs (32), Israel Idonije, (32), Julius Peppers (32) and Charles Tillman (31). Yet Chicago has forced 30 turnovers, has 28 sacks and ranks fourth in yards allowed (311.9). Said Urlacher: "I'm tired of hearing it. The last four or five years, [people think] we've been old. But the same guys they keep calling old keep going to the Pro Bowl."
Devin Hester hasn't visited the end zone yet this year. But don't use that as an indictment of Chicago's splendid special teams, which have had Mike Priefer's attention for two weeks now. The Vikings special teams coordinator admires his counterpart in Chicago, Dave Toub, and notes the Bears rank first in kickoff coverage and second in punt coverage. "The pieces change every year," Priefer said, "and he keeps right on rolling." Plus kicker Robbie Gould remains ultra-dependable, the fourth most accurate kicker in history.MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen vs. Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb
About Allen Torched Webb for 3 1/2 sacks in the 2011 season finale; has four multi-sack games against Chicago.
About Webb Inconsistent anchor of a shaky line that has allowed 34 sacks and 62 quarterback hits.
Who has the edge? Allen had his way with Webb on New Year's Day, and if the Bears devote extra help to slowing him, Brian Robison could quickly get loose against right tackle Jonathan Scott, who will replace Gabe Carimi in the starting lineup. Advantage: Allen
THE BIG NUMBER
1-8 The Vikings' record at Soldier Field since the stadium reopened in 2003. In their current four-game skid in Chicago, their average loss has come by a score of 38-24.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings: He not only leads the NFL in rushing, but his 1,128 yards are more than 21 other teams had entering this week. Peterson has four consecutive 100-yard games with a run of longer than 60 yards in three consecutive games.
|Miami||0||Top 9th Inning|
|Chicago Cubs||2||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Colorado||1||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Chicago WSox||0||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Cleveland||2||Top 3rd Inning|
|Cleveland||1||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Kansas City||1||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Milwaukee||2||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Oakland||2||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Seattle||2||Top 3rd Inning|
|Golden State||8:00 PM|
|San Jose||1||2nd Prd|
|Kentucky||37||2nd Half 13:16|
|Michigan State||48||2nd Half 15:10|
|Chicago||1||2nd Half 4:00|
|Vancouver FC||6:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin||44|
|Fla Gulf Coast||60|
|St Francis-PA||54||2nd Half 3:57|
|Drake||47||2nd Half 3:21|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm||X||27-13|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm||X||20-16|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm||X||34-14|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm||X||24-23|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon||X||34-24|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon||X||31-30|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon||X||31-27|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon||X||34-27|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||35-10|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm||X||23-7|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm||X||44-31|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon||X||27-23|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm||X||34-27|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm||X||41-20|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon||26-26|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||23-20|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon||X||29-26|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon||X||48-30|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon||X||42-14|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon||X||14-13|