With kickoff fast-approaching at Soldier Field, here are a few final thoughts about today's game.
Vikings red zone offenseAn area of emphasis for the Vikings this week in their preparation for Chicago was red zone offense, where the Vikings have the NFL's 26th-ranked offense and the Bears have the League's 23rd-ranked defense. The Vikings settled for 5 Blair Walsh FGs last week in Detroit but they know they must turn those 3s into 6s if they want to beat the Bears today.
Bears offensive line banged upThe Vikings will be without starting DT Sharrif Floyd today, but the Bears are a bit beat up in the trenches, as well. There's a chance starting LT Jermon Bushrod (shoulder-questionable) and starting C Hroniss Grasu (neck-questionable) don't play. Charles Leno would replace Bushrod, but if Grasu can't go the contingency plan could be a bit more complex. Starting LG Matt Slauson could move over to play C and then Patrick Omameh would fill in for Slauson at LG. At the end of the day, Vikings DE Everson Griffen and DT Linval Joseph stand to benefit from some uncertainty and injuries up front for the Bears.
Bears and Fox off a byeThe Vikings haven't won in Chicago since 2007. How many times have you heard or read that? Countless, no doubt. Another item from the "Meaningless Statistics" department is that the Bears are 4-1 in their last five games off a bye and head coach John Fox's teams are 7-0 in their last seven games off a bye. So is that statistic really meaningless? It depends who you ask. But the Vikings can render it meaningless as well as destroy the "The Vikings haven't won in Chicago since 2007" storyline in one fell swoop today by beating the Bears.
Role of special teamsDon't sleep on special teams today. The last five Vikings-Bears matchups and six of the 12 games the Vikings and Bears have each played this season have been decided by one possession, so it's fair to guess that special teams play will loom large in Sunday's matchup. The Vikings have been solid in all phases of special teams this season. Blair Walsh is on fire of late, hitting 8 of his last 8 FG attempts, while Jeff Locke and the punt team have been downright stingy by allowing a League-low 37 punt return yards all season.