Chicago Bears: 6 Critical Match-Ups Against the Vikings
The Chicago Bears will try to get back on the winning side of things win they take the field against the Minnesota Vikings in a big NFC North showdown. The Bears just came off one of their most embarrassing losses in franchise history this past Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Bears offense was pathetic as usual, but surprisingly the defense got out physical all night long, specifically the defensive line by their offensive line. Frank Gore had a nice game running the football against the Bears front seven.
The 49ers offensive line completely dominated the Bears front four and the Vikings offensive line has the potential to do the same with a much more explosive running back in Adrian Peterson. The Bears are all too familiar with Peterson as the RB has had some of his best games against the Bears defense.
With Percy Harvin doubtful for this game, the Vikings don’t have much as far as receivers are concern. Tight end Kyle Rudolph will be probably the only legit threat, but he struggles with consistency.
On offense, it all starts with the Bears offensive line trying to contain Jared Allen and the rest of that Vikings defensive line that can get after the quarterback. If they can somehow establish the running game, it opens them up to attack a secondary that can be thrown on if the QB has time to set his feet and the WR’s can get separation from defenders.
Here are the five most critical match-ups in this NFC North Contest.
J’Marcus Webb vs. Jared Allen
The last time J’Marcus Webb went up against Jared Allen, he gave up numerous pressures and 3.5 sacks. Mike Tice decided to give Webb the assignment to single block Allen all game and Webb wasn’t up to the challenge. Webb gets a chance at revenge against Allen this Sunday, but don’t expect the same game plan from their last meeting. I fully expect offensive coordinator Mike Tice to help Webb out with chip blocks and double teams.
There will be times in the game where Webb is one-on-one against Allen. Webb has to win that match-up a high percentage of the time.
Lance Louis vs. Kevin Williams
Lance Louis might be in line for a contract extension before the end of this season; he could build a strong case for it with a dominate performance against Kevin Williams this Sunday. At 32-years old, Williams is still a dominant presence in the middle of that Vikings defensive line. He’s a 6-5 311 monster that can beat opposing interior linemen with power and speed. He’s still an explosive athlete that can take over a game.
Louis has been stout in the run department, but has specifically stood out most as a pass blocker. In fact he could be the team’s best pass protector.
Brandon Marshall vs. Josh Robinson
Last week the Vikings secondary gave up 207 yards to Calvin Johnson. As said in the introduction, if given time, you can shred that secondary. If Jay Cutler is given time in the pocket, he and Brandon Marshall can find holes the holes in the Vikings cover-2.
If they decide to man up on Marshall, the rookie Josh Robinson will get the assignment on Marshall. Robinson is small compared to Marshall, but is a physical player. If not bracketed, Marshall should win this match a majority of the time.
Corey Wootton vs. Phil Loadholt
Like most running backs in the league, Peterson likes to attack the strong side of the field, so containment from Corey Wootton will be critical. Peterson is the kind of back that will make you pay big, and I assume defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli stressed gap discipline all week.
While Phil Loadholt might have a slight edge as a run blocker versus Wootton run defense, as a pass rusher Wootton should shine as a pass rusher against a mediocre pass protector. Look for Wootton to make an impact in this aspect if the Bears shut down the run.
Stephen Paea vs. Charlie Johnson
Stephen Paea didn’t have a good game against left guard Mike Iupati this past Monday. He had one flash play in the game, but outside of that was completely dominated by the LG. Paea will need to rebound this Sunday against Charlie Johnson who has played better in the interior this season compared to last season where he was on the outside.
The Bears are looking for more consistency out of Paea, who has all the natural abilities to be a dominated defensive tackle in this league.
Safeties vs. Kyle Rudolph
Vernon Davis had his way with the Bears safeties this past Monday. He attacked them vertically down the field where they had no answers for him. Kyle Ruldolph is not the same caliber athlete as Davis (not too many are), but he’s a threat in the passing game, specifically in the red zone where he has six touchdowns this season.
Major Wright and Chris Conte are both athletic safeties capable of matching up with big athletic TE’s of Rudolph stature. With Rudolph being Christian Ponder only reliable target tomorrow, the Bears have to do their best to take that option away.