The Minnesota Vikings are moving into the toughest part of their season schedule as they travel to face the Chicago Bears this Sunday. The Bears are reeling this week, having lost their starting quarterback and then getting blown out on Monday Night Football.
Jay Cutler has been cleared to play but he may not make it through the game if his concussion symptoms come back, and Jason Campbell could step in. Campbell had a terrible game against the San Francisco 49ers and their fearsome defense on Monday night last week.
If the Vikings hope to capitalize on their situation and earn the victory against the Bears, they need to utilize their pass rush and put the pressure on Campbell. The Bears’ offensive line has been dreadful all season, so if Jared Allen and the Vikes’ pass rushers can harass Campbell with a four- or five-man rush, it will give the secondary a better chance at shutting down the Bears aerial attack.
Special teams will also be important, and if Chris Kluwe can pin down the Bears deep in their own zone, it would put additional pressure on Chicago and perhaps force them to take some risks.
Matt Forte has been contained by two good defenses the last two weeks, and while the Vikings rush defense has been subpar lately, at the beginning of the season they were one of the league’s better run-stopping teams. If the Vikings can make the Bears offense one-dimensional, they could pin their ears back and blitz more aggressively.
Setting aside the Bears’ troubles on the offensive side of the ball, their defense is arguably the best in the league. Specifically, the Bears have done a great job at forcing turnovers and taking them to the house. Even if the Vikings play well on defense and limit Chicago’s offense, that plan could be undone by giving up a pick-six or a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
This Vikings will need to play well in all phases of the game, and keep up the pressure on the Bears for all sixth minutes. But if they manage to do that, they could shake up the standings of the NFC North.