One man’s prediction: The Bears defeated the Vikings 31-30 in Week 2 on a TD with 10 seconds left. The Vikings had communication breakdowns on that final drive that helped the Bears rally. Chicago will be without QB Jay Cutler (ankle). The Bears’ run defense is horrendous, which means the Vikings tag team of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart should be too much to handle.
On the run
The Vikings had their best rushing performance of the season against the Packers, and now they get to face the NFL’s worst run defense. The Bears gave up 258 yards rushing against the St. Louis Rams last week and rank last in the NFL in that category, allowing 145.2 yards per game. Adrian Peterson set season highs in carries (32) and yards (146) last week, and Toby Gerhart joined the party with 91 yards on eight carries. Expect more of the same against a Bears defense that is battered by injuries.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier probably enjoyed not having to defend his quarterback choice this week. Christian Ponder performed well enough against the Packers to keep his job this week without the normal flood of questions/criticism. Ponder has targeted rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson 20 times total the past two games; their chemistry is growing.
Press the issue
Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes is listed as probable after suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter against the Packers. The coaching staff allowed Rhodes to play more man coverage last week and he responded with a season-best four pass breakups, including one in the end zone. Frazier said he’d like to give Rhodes more opportunities to play press/man at the line because that fits his skill set. The Bears feature big, physical receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery so this will be a tough matchup for Rhodes.
MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH
Vikings CB Chris Cook vs. Bears WR Brandon Marshall
The 2010 second-round pick is still looking for his first career interception. He has only five pass breakups this season, but he is healthy after dealing with injuries throughout his career.
In five games against the Vikings, Marshall has caught 43 passes for 550 yards and three touchdowns. He’s tied for third in the NFL in catches (74) and has nine touchdown catches.
Who has the edge?
Marshall always gives the Vikings problems, and he’s posted 100-yard receiving games in three of his past four games. Cook will need help from his pass rush to disrupt the timing between Marshall and quarterback Josh McCown.
THE BIG NUMBER
10 Rushing touchdowns for Adrian Peterson this season. He’s the third player in history to post seven seasons with 10-plus, joining LaDainian Tomlinson and Emmitt Smith.
Blair Walsh, Vikings: Walsh was NFC special teams player of the week after making four field goal attempts at Green Bay. Now he’s kicking indoors. Walsh is 8-for-9 on field goal tries at the Metrodome this season, and his strong leg should prevent dangerous Devin Hester from returning kickoffs.