Goodbye Rex Grossman and hello Brian Griese. The Chicago Bears’ quarterback experiment appears to be over for now; their running game could stand some improvement, however. They look to get a better effort from the running game as they take on the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field this Sunday. The defending NFC champions are coming off a 27-20 upset of the Green Bay Packers last Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Vikings are coming off a bye week.
It looks like quarterback Tarvaris Jackson will be behind center this Sunday, taking over for Kelly Holcomb who while posting OK numbers vs. Green Bay on Week 4 (21-of-39, 258 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) was just keeping the spot warm for Jackson. The Vikings (1-3)are averaging only 178.3 yards passing yards per game (5th-fewest in the NFL), so that will need some big improvement. But the team’s offensive star, to really no one’s surprise, is running back Adrian Peterson (76 carries, 383 yards, 1 TD; 9 catches, 166 yards, 1 TD). He is multi-talented and will have something to say about this Sunday’s game and its outcome. Their defense is their calling card; despite being ranked 18th overall, their rushing defense is amongst the best in the league (62 yards rushing allowed per game – #1 in the NFL). What isn’t a good sign is when your 2 leading tacklers are cornerbacks (Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin).
Meanwhile, the Bears (2-3) are slowly getting acclimated to QB Brian Griese (49-of-77, 500 yards, 4 TD’s, 4 INT’s – this is 2 games’ production). But the running game is where the Bears are in need of improvement; RB Cedric Benson (101 carries, 303 yards, 2 TD’s) is their man there and it appears there’s no true competition to man-up against Benson. A pleasant surprise for the Bears has been wide receiver Bernard Berrian (25 catches, 330 yards); also contributing is tight end Desmond Clark (19-231-2). Their defense, oddly enough, is improving -although you wouldn’t know it from the numbers. Led by their stout pass rush specialists, including defensive tackle Tommie Harris (4 sacks), defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (3 sacks) and perennial All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher (38 tackles, 29 solo, 3 sacks, 1 INT), they have kept the Bears in a lot of games this season.
The Vikings, if they want to win this weekend, will need a supreme effort from Peterson. Their run defense besides stalling Benson, will need to create turnovers, as well. The Bears will need to allow Griese to throw the ball a bit more than in past weeks. They also need to pass rush quite a bit to create havoc for Jackson. Unfortunately for the Vikings, no matter what Peterson does this Sunday, it won’t be nearly enough as I expect the Bears to record a decent number of sacks and create some turnovers, as well. The Bears won’t create any true offensive fireworks, but they won’t be necessary as the Bears win convincingly at Soldier Field this Sunday.