Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears (1 PM ET, FOX, 9/15/13)

Last Week

The Vikings had a great start to their tilt against the Lions, with an AP 78-yard scamper for an early score. They held it together in the first half, taking a 14-13 lead into the locker room, but were blown out in the second half to eventually lose 34-24.

The Bears were pretty uneven last week, but Cutler turned it on at the end of the 3rd quarter and eventually rallied for a 24-21 win. Tillman had a better game than he looked in some respects (AJ Green had 9 for 162 and 2 TDs, but it would have been much worse with another corner), but he also lucked into one of his interceptions and wasn't as dominant as the 2 INT might suggest.

Bears Run Versus Vikings Run Defense

Remember when I said the Bengals could be run on? Well, the Vikings can REALLY be run on. According Pro Football Focus, the LB corps was pretty spotty on run defense. Add in the fact that Football Outsiders graded the unit as 30th in the league last week at run stopping. That being said, the unit was 7th in the league last year in run prevention.

Matt Forte didn't turn in an excellent performance last week, going 19 for 50. Part of that was the improved run defense of the Bengals and most of it was the OL's lack of run blocking. I expect that to change today, especially considering that Pat Williams will be operating at reduced effectiveness, if he even plays at all.

Vikings Run Versus Bears Run Defense

Well, it doesn't get harder than this. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL, and it's not particularly close. I'd argue that he's the best RB since LT in his prime, and he's on pace to be maybe slightly better than even the great Tomlinson. He does his damage in a different way; he's a pure runner, and doesn't catch as much as out of the backfield as LT did (he doesn't block as well, either). AD torches the Bears on a regular basis, and once had 224 yards and 3 TD in a single game against them. He's going to get his, and there's just not a lot that can be done about it.

The Bears will throw a bunch of different people at him to help. I imagine that they'll but 7 and 8 in the box routinely, and force Ponder to beat them with his arm (more on that later). It's going to be an unqualified success if the Bears can hold All Day to around 100 yards and a touchdown; if that happens, the Bears win 9 out 10 games.

Bears Pass Versus Bears Pass Defense

I think that the Bears can do some damage here. Stafford carved the Vikings up last week, and Cutler is around the same caliber QB that Stafford is. It'll be a much different type of gameplan, of course, with the Bears running the WCO and the Lions more stretching the field out. In any case, it'll be pivotal for the Bears' bookends to keep Cutler upright. Jared Allen is not as dominant as he used to be, but he'll hurt you if you let him, and it'll be up to Bushrod to keep him occupied all game. The Vikings have a solid LB corps in pass defense but that secondary is ripe. I imagine this will be one of Cutler's better games all year, if he can stay relatively upright.

Vikings Pass Versus Bears Pass Defense

This is going to be ugly for the Vikings. They have had a great offensive line over the past few years, but they were bad last week. They traditionally give Ponder all of the time he needs, but he has huge limitations as a QB and just won't beat you on his own. He can't throw the deep ball and has poor receivers to work with this year (though Cordarelle Patterson will probably be a stud some day). Jerome Simpson had 7 catches for 140 yards last week, but I wouldn't bet on that happening again; Jennings is similarly on the way down.

The Bears DL didn't get any penetration last week, and this OL is as good or better than that unit is. Adding to that, Peppers is probably with an illness and isn't likely to play very much. I'd expect Ponder to have a lot of time to decide how he wants to throw his incompletions, dump offs, and interceptions in this game.

The Bears' CB corps looked generally elite, though Jennings got absolutely burned a few times, once by Eifert and another by Green.

Special Teams

Robbie "Cash for" Gould (thanks Aisle424) was his excellent self last week. Blair Walsh is another excellent kicker. Both teams have pretty good special teams, but the Bears' squad is definitely better.

Prediction

I think the Bears are going win this game, and win it comfortably. AD will get a bunch of yards and probably a touchdown, and I wouldn't be surprised if Ponder has a single TD. However, I don't think that's going to be enough to win; the Bears offense is going to match up relatively well.

Bears 27, Vikings 14

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