Monday, December 17, 2007

Vikings v Bears Kool-Aided Preview (wk 15)

Well, I haven't given a preview since week 6 for the first Bears game. And it is probably good because we tend to lose the games I preview. But I am fearless and the Vikings are virtually unbeatable so here I come with a minor preview.

On paper this one could get ugly in the home team's favor. The Bears are injured all over, haven't played well in weeks, are searching for anybody to be a competent QB and the seem to be a grumpy group right about now.

But Beware the Bear? I don't think so. They have lost 3 of their last 4. A Bears fan might try to convince you they were all close against potential playoff teams and they beat Denver. But these games were not as close as they appear...

  • @Seattle - late FG by Chicago made this closer than it really was. But this was one of the best games for Benson (89 yds, 1 TD) and Grossman (266 yds, 65%) this season.
  • Denver - nice OT win at home, but this was a Hester special. He is special but the 22 guys who play offense and defense did not play well enough to win this game.
  • NY Giants - this was their best game in recent memory (although it was a loss). It took 4th quarter collapse to give this one away. 5 penalties in the 4th, a couple replay calls in the vaGiants favor and a general inability to stop the Manning led Giants ended this one for the Bearsies.
  • @Washington - another close but not really game. A FG with 30 seconds made this into a 1 possession game.
I think this Bear is in hibernation.

Two things scare me about this game...

1. Kyle Orton - Dan Marino he is not, but if you are reading this you too have see a Vikings defense make a non-starter QB look like he is All Pro. Orton does have a nice arm but he hasn't taken a snap since 2005. And even then he had 9 TDs to 13 INTs. He shouldn't scare anybody, there is a reason that he has been stuck behind Grossman and Griese for 2 years. But he does, only because I've seen it before.

The Bears shouldn't have a run game that accumulates more than 50 yards all day. I'm guessing the Lovie and company have gameplanned to spread us out and throw on us from the opening snap. Hell, I wouldn't be shocked to see a no huddle. Out of character? Yes. The right gameplan to beat the Vikings? Yes. Orton can throw, but we have to adjust to him, get pressure on him and make him make mistakes.

2. Devin Hester - my most hated player in football. He is amazing and perfectly capable of beating the Vikings. In recent memory the Bears have done all they can to prove that a special team's TD doesn't actually help win you games. In the most recent Super Bowl I was convinced that if the Bears got a Hester TD they would beat the Colts. I was wrong. In week 6 when Hester took back a punt to give Chicago the 0-7 lead I thought it was over. Again, I was wrong. I don't want to take that chance again. I don't care if kicking the ball out of bounds gives them a 20 yard bonus in field position. If their offense, which will be one dimensional can go down the field on a consistent basis then we don't deserve to win. But that is better than giving Hester 6 points.

Fearless Prediction

This is tough. On the one hand I think right now these teams are going in opposite directions. The Bears haven't been very good on the road and last meeting was dominated everywhere except the final 3 min and final score (31-17 with 3 min to go before a minor collapse by the Vikes). And in addition to that the Vikings have been dominant winning 3 straight by 20+. On the other hand this is a division game that has the makings of a tight game as both defenses have been known to play well.

I expect the Bears to come out throwing on offense and putting 10 guys on the box to stop Purple Jesus on defense. As is often the case that formula isn't good for the Vikes. So can Jackson continue to play well when teams are forcing him to beat them. Can PJ get into that second level and run all over the Bear D? And if we know they are going to pass can we slow it down? Can we make them go in short chunks and then pounce when Orton makes a mistake?

I can't pick against the Vikes but this one is far from a slam dunk. The Vikings win and increase their dominance over the Bears as they move the franchise series to 50-42-2.

Minnesota - 27
Chicago - 23

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