To call Sunday’s Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears game a key NFC North matchup, would be putting it lightly. Both teams stand to gain or lose a lot of momentum towards making the playoffs depending on the outcome of this one.
Let’s take a look at the Vikings’ keys to victory:
Make Someone other than Brandon Marshall Beat You
Most teams probably have a similar game plan when heading into Soldier Field, but there’s no doubt this is a top defensive priority. Marshall has cooled off recently after several weeks of lights-out play, but with the talent he possesses, there’s no telling when he could go off again.
Jay Cutler‘s absence is clearly the main reason behind Marshall’s decreased production, but even if Cutler is out again Sunday, you’d have to figure Jason Campbell will find the star receiver somehow after playing with him for the third straight week.
Limiting Marshall will go along ways towards a Minnesota victory.
Christian Ponder Must Play Mistake-Free, and Open Up the Running Game
With any young quarterback this is a necessity, but especially on the road at Soldier Field. If Ponder turns the ball over, the Vikings will lose. I don’t care if he only throws for 150 yards, fumbles and interceptions will be to too much to overcome.
Ponder has to play well enough to take some of the pressure off of Adrian Peterson. If he’s unable to get it going through the air, the Bears will load up the box and make things very difficult for AP.
Ride the Back of No. 28 as Much as Possible
It’s the most simple of offensive strategies for the Vikings, but it’s also the most effective one, hand it off to AP. Now as stated above, Peterson’s day will be a lot easier if Ponder can get things going in the passing game, but everyone knows No. 28 will get his carries regardless.
There’s nothing wrong with riding the back of your superstar to victory, and the Vikings will no doubt be doing just that on Sunday. 25 carries are likely in Peterson’s future, and if he can keep up his pace from the past few weeks, Minnesota has a chance.
The main benefit of establishing the run will be the clock control that comes with it, and hopefully a worn down Bears’ defense by the end of the game.
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