Thursday, September 21, 2006

Vikings v Bears Kool-Aided Preview

Week 3

The purple headed warriors are 2-0 heading into our first divisional game. We have been witness to 2 straight weeks of a solid gameplan that was executed till Longwell decided he wanted it to be over. I believe that every good team has at least 1 game per season where neither the offense or defense "wins" the game for you and special teams has to step up and make the plays necessary to win. This was that week for the Minnesota Vikings. Ryan Longwell was special teams player of the week after drililng 4 FGs and throwing a crucial TD on a fake FG. In addition to Longwell, the Viking's special teams recovered a critical fumble on Chris Gamble's ill advised punt return-throw back fumble. For the most part the offense played OK and the defense played pretty well but the special teams won the game.

Week 3 will be a similar type game but the O and the D need to step up their play if we are going to be 3-0. Here is how I see it happening...

If Bears fans think that Walter Payton, Jim McMcMahon, Mike Singletary and Dick Butkis are going to walk through the tunnel onto the HHH turf on Sunday they have another thing coming. In fact since most Bears fans live in the past, they probably do expect the 85 Bears to play on Sunday. But it won't help them because the Bears suck...

The Trenches - As good as the left side of our O-line was in week 1, the right was the ying to the left side's yang in week 2. Marcus Johnson was beat to a pulp on a regular basis by Julius Peppers. Fortunately for Marcus the Bears D-line is not as good as Carolinas, but it Ogunleye is pretty dang close. These are fairly even mathcups on both sides of the ball. The Bears D-line is pretty good but so it our O-line. The Bears O-line is also rather good, but our D-line is quickly becoming a strength of our defense. I expect these matchups to be a wash. We'll open some holes and give Brad time to pass on most plays but their D-line will occasionally make some plays to put us in 2nd or 3rd and long. Same thing will happen on the other side of the ball.

I think it is more important for Chicago to win the battle of O-line protection. Grossman is prone to more mistakes when rushed than Johnson is. As we saw last week even with a D-line in his face all day Brad was till able to make plays and not make mistakes.

The Pretty Boys - Going into the season neither team's skill position players really thrilled you or took up roster spots on your fantasy team. After 2 weeks though Grossman, Berrian, Williamson and Chester are either hot pickups or are moving from your bench to a start position. Both defenses now realize there is big play potential on these offenses so I wouldn't expect to see 8 men in the box all game long like we have in the past. If one team can come up with 1 or 2 big plays I think that is what will be the difference maker.

The Ball Hawks - this is a monster key for the Vikings. On the road in a hostile stadium, you can expect that Grossman will make a couple mistakes. We have to capitalize on them. LBs will have to do their job vs. the run so we don't have to pull up our safeties and the LBs can't get blocked when blitzing. I keep seeing visions of Napo breaking through the line, Grossman tries to hit his hot receiver but a DB jumps the route, picks it and takes it to the house.

Keys to the game

  1. Grossman - we need to get some pressure on Rex and pounce when he makes a mistake. If he manages the game, can sit comfortably in the pocket and doesn't throw into coverage then I don't like our chances.
  2. Tony Richardson's blocking - really this is Richardson vs. Chicago LB core, but specifically Urlacher. If MN wants to establish the run at any point it is critical that Richardson can get to a LB and hold a block (without holding of course) long enough for Chester to get into the secondary. Tony also needs to help on the pass blocking so we don't see visions of Peppers in our backfield again.
  3. Safeties - the Viking safeties may also be a key to this game. They will need to fill quickly to stop the run but not bite on play fakes and keep the likes of Berrian in front of them at all times. On the other side the Bears are starting rookie Danieal Manning at Safety this week, if he makes rookie mistakes we have to cash in on those.
  4. Penalties - The Vikes have had a few too many penalties of late. 2 TDs were essentially taken from us last week inside the 10. And conversely Chicago benefited from Detroit's rash of yellow flags last week to help them breeze to their W. Last week Detroit intercepted a Grossman pass and took it for 6, but was called back because of a personal foul. That is exactly what cannot happen if the Vikes want to win agian this week.
  5. Special teams has to win again - Longwell needs to pass for 250 yds and 3 TDs, oh wait... special teams does not have to win the game for us but simply outplay Chicago's special teams. Don't give up huge returns and win the field position battle. This game will come down to the little things.
I think this is the perfect time to be playing Chicago. They have a lot of confidence following 2 offensive explosions and defensive beatdowns, but it was vs. GB and Det so I'm hoping it is a false confidence. Also they are playing Seattle next week and everyone outside of Minnesota assumes that is a better test for the Bears. I don't expect them to totally look past a divisional road game, as they are not prone to do that, but I'm hoping they are more confident than they should be heading into this game. Finally let's not forget that it has been a LONG time since the Bears have won in the Metrodome.

The Vikings win as Rex struggles in the Dome.
MN - 20
Chi - 16

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