Chicago Bears: 6 Most Critical Match-Ups vs. Vikings

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Introduction

Winfield
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears find themselves in a pretty similar situation they were in a couple weeks ago; a must win game against division rival Minnesota Vikings. The Bears are coming off a crushing loss to the Seattle Seahawks which was arguably their worst loss of the season. The loss was mainly bad because it gave the fans a glimpse of how flawed this team is.

The Bears are trying to conservative their way to a Championship and quite frankly that’s not going to cut it against good to great teams. Against below-average teams it will work, but a good team like the Seahawks will find a way to beat you.

The Bears defense is going to have a big drop off with Brian Urlacher sidelined for the rest of the season, so it is up to Jay Cutler and the offense to take their game to another notch and start living up to the expectations that were placed on them in the beginning of the season. It starts with the Vikings this Sunday who are not a juggernaut on defense.

If there's ever a time that this team need to heavily rely on the offense, it is now with some key starters on defense expected to miss some time.

Here are six important match-ups keep an eye on this Sunday.

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Brandon Marshall vs. Antonie Winfield

Winfield
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Marshall got the best of Antonie Winfield in their last meeting, and the pace Marshall is currently on fans should expect the same result. Winfield is a small corner at 5-9 180 pounds, but he likes to play physical at the line of scrimmage and to some extent up the field.

I fully expect the Vikings defensive coordinator to bracket Marshall for most of the day. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice could most likely counter that by moving Marshall around. If the Vikings are foolish enough to allow one-on-one coverage on Marshall, expect another solid game.

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Alshon Jeffery vs. A.J. Jefferson

Jeffery
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think the Vikings defensive coordinator is going to allow Antonie Winfield to play one-on-one coverage on Brandon Marshall for most of the game. Another WR needs to step up to take pressure off Marshall, and Jeffery (who is expected to play) could be that guy.

Jeffery was showing signs of becoming the player we think he can be until he went down with a hand injury. He has a favorable match-up against Jefferson this Sunday. Jeffery needs to make his presence felt in the red zone and 3rd downs for this offense to be effective.

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Jonathan Scott vs. Brian Robison

Robison
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Allen plays very well in the Metrodome, so J’Marcus Webb will be in for a tough afternoon. You can fully expect Mike Tice to send help Webb’s way with chip blocks and double teams from running backs and tight ends.

That leaves veteran Jonathan Scott one-on-one with Brian Robinson who has develop into a nice compliment to Allen. It’s critical for Scott to be able to hold his own against Robinson, because if he can’t, that takes away another target for Jay Cutler in his progression.

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Bears Defensive Line vs. Vikings Offensive Line

Vikings O-Line
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With no Brian Urlacher, it’s very critical for the defensive line to be stout up front against the run. The Bears will be starting Nick Roach who is solid at run defense, but they are starting Geno Hayes at strong side linebacker who weakness is against the run. The Bears defensive line can’t afford not to be gap discipline and allow the Vikings O-Line to reach the secondary level and get bodies on the linebackers.

One false assignment and Adrian Peterson can take one to the house.

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Julius Peppers vs. Matt Kalil

Kalil
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have shown in the past that they can get impatient if the ground game is not working for them. If the Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder wants to start dropping back and throwing down field, the Bears have to get pressure from the front four in order to force errant passes or 3rd and longs.

In their last meeting, rookie Matt Kalil shutdown Julius Peppers; not allowing the veteran to get close to the young QB. The Bears can’t afford the same resort this Sunday.

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Kelvin Hayden vs. Jarius Wright

Wright
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s a wide receiver on the Vikings roster that is a potential threat, it is rookie Jarius Wright. The former Razorback is a quick shifty WR, who also has the speed to stretch the field and make plays. On the fast surface the Bears about to play on this Sunday, this could potentially be a tough match-up for Hayden.

Hayden is a tough physical corner that match-up well against bigger WR’s, but he has shown in spurts this season he has trouble with smaller faster WR’s. Hayden is going have to step his game up in order to contain Wright.


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