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:FOXRadio:Vikings Radio Network; KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130Mobile:NFL Mobile (exclusively on Verizon)
An Eye on "Confidence Positions"With the playoffs out of the question for both the Vikings and Bears, today's game is about closing the season on a strong note and looking to the future. Three Vikings players to keep an eye on in that regard are QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Xavier Rhodes and K Blair Walsh. All three play what I like to term "confidence positions."
A confidence position is one in which a player's level of confidence can impact his play on the field. Confidence is important for any player, but the level of individual scrutiny and, at times, the level of impact an individual can have on the outcome of a game, at these positions is more significant than any other position.
As you're watching the game today, pay attention to the play of these three players. Of course winning the game is of paramount importance to the players and coaches, but it's also important that these three players put on a good performance and enter the offseason feeling good about where they're heading.
A New Tackling LeaderFor the last six seasons, LB Chad Greenway has led the team in tackles. His run of six straight seasons atop the team's tackle charts is tied with Scott Studwell for a franchise record. Entering today's game, Greenway is second on the team in tackles, one behind Harrison Smith. But there's a good chance Smith or fellow S Robert Blanton finishes the season as the team's leader in tackles, meaning Greenway's streak will end. Whether the streak ends or not, credit goes to Greenway for being a stalwart on the Vikings defense for such an extended period of time.
Matchup to Watch: Matt Kalil vs. Jared AllenBears DE Jared Allen returns to Minnesota for the first time since leaving the Vikings via free agency last offseason. He is listed as questionable for the game with a ribs injury, but if he does suit up he will be a player to watch today. The Vikings offensive lineman primarily responsible for blocking Allen will be LT Matt Kalil, who has been much-maligned this season but who has played well over the final half of the season. In the first Vikings-Bears matchup, Kalil got the better of the battle, but today is a new day and a new battle.