The Bears will be without middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who’s the heart and soul of their defense. Nick Roach will replace Urlacher, and Geno Hayes will play stongside linebacker.
Just like the first meeting between these two teams a couple of weeks ago, Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin will be sidelined, limiting Minnesota’s offensive options. The only logical weapon the Vikes have in the passing game is tight end Kyle Rudolph. This will place the majority of the Vikings’ offensive production on running back Adrian Peterson.
The six-year veteran running back leads the NFL in rushing with 1,446 yards, and has averaged 157.8 yards over the past six games. Over the same span, Minnesota’s passing game has only averaged 145.2 yards per game.
The task of trying to contain Peterson may be more difficult than usual, since Urlacher won’t be in the lineup. The fact that Peterson tore his ACL and MCL late last season hasn’t slowed him down one bit, especially last week when he rushed for 210 yards in a losing effort against the Green Bay Packers.
In week 12, Peterson was limited in his carries, but still managed to rush for 118 yards against the Bears. Given more opportunities, Peterson could be primed for a big game at home against the Bears.
Earlier in the season, Chicago was in the top five in run defense, but over the past five games, they have surrendered an average of 139.0 yards per game, and are now 10th in the league in stopping the run. Without Urlacher, the Bears’ front seven will face their biggest test of the season in trying to stop the best running back in football.
One thing that will help Chicago tremendously is clock control from their offense. Keeping Peterson off the field will definitely prevent him from adding to his league-leading numbers.
The outcome of this game will dictated by the Bears’ run defense and the Vikings’ run offense.
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