In every NFL matchup, there are a seemingly endless amount of angles to analyze. It's hard to get to them all during the week of practice, and I'm sure there were some that slipped through the cracks despite all of the Vikings vs. Bears preview content we provided on vikings.com this week.
With kickoff fast approaching, here are a few final thoughts on today's Vikings-Bears contest.
How to Take in Today's Game Game Time: 12:00 p.m. CT TV:CBSRadio:Vikings Radio Network; KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130Mobile:NFL Mobile (exclusively on Verizon)
Jennings in for a big day?In two games against the Bears last season, Greg Jennings had 12 receptions on 15 targets and found the end zone once. He's accustomed to playing against the Bears given that he's played them twice a season for his entire career – from 2006-12 with Green Bay and the last two years with the Vikings. But all of that is in the past. Still, though, don't be surprised to see Jennings fill up the stat sheet today.
Jennings, who is the Vikings most reliable wide receiver does some of his best work in the slot, and if he lines up in the slot today he'll likely be covered by CB Demontre Hurst, who is not one of the Bears most reliable cornerbacks. The Bears top two cornerbacks are rookie Kyle Fuller and veteran Tim Jennings, who both play outside. Hurst is not a terrible player, but he'll have his hands full trying to keep up with the savvy Jennings. Hurst was the Bears fifth cornerback to start the season but has been elevated since then because of an injury to Charles Tillman and the release of Isaiah Frey.
Bear blitz? Expect change in strategy from Bears defenseThe Bears defense is not one that chooses to blitz with cornerbacks and pressure with linebackers frequently. In fact, just seven of the Bears 20 team sacks have come with more than a four-man rush. But don't be surprised if the Bears change up that philosophy today.
Since Bridgewater became the starter, the Vikings have seen opposing defenses come at them with plenty of blitzes and pressures, even from defenses that hadn't previously shown a propensity to do so. Defensive coordinators are not comfortable with letting a rookie quarterback, even one as cool and collected as Bridgewater, enjoy clean pockets. Even though the Bears have talented pass rushers on their defensive line, expect defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to dial up plenty of blitzes today.
Defensive line must continue to lead the way for VikingsMaking adjustments to compensate for deficiencies is vital in the NFL. But sometimes when a team has a good thing going it's best to keep doing it until a team proves they can stop it. That is precisely what the Vikings defense – specifically, the defensive line – must do today. The Vikings defensive line is the strength of the team and has paced a pass rush that is third in the NFL with 30 sacks.
Today, that defensive line will go against a Bears offensive line that is starting a different combination of five starters for the sixth consecutive week – this week it was Brian de la Puente practicing at left guard (Matt Slauson is out for the season) and Michael Ola was at right tackle (Jordan Mills is injured). It is important for the Vikings defensive line to keep playing well and to exploit a Bears offensive line that is looking to stabilize.
Soldier Field turf in tip-top shapeA quick walk around the Soldier Field playing surface three hours before kickoff revealed that the turf is in tip-top shape, which is not always the case here. New turf was laid three weeks ago and the Bears have yet to play on it, which should provide a nice playing surface for today's game.
Weather shouldn't be a factorAir temperatures hovered around 30 degrees two hours before kickoff and the forecast calls for a kickoff temperature of 35 degrees with just a 20% chance of precipitation. There is a band of snow approaching Chicago from the northwest but it appears inclement weather will not factor into today's game. Even better news is that the forecast also calls for wind speeds under 15 miles per hour.