With kickoff fast-approaching, here are a few final thoughts about today's game.
How to Take in Today's Game
Game Time: 12:00 p.m. CT
Radio: Vikings Radio Network; KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130
Mobile: NFL Mobile (exclusively on Verizon)
Defensive depth will be called upon again for Vikings
For a second consecutive game, the Vikings will be down multiple defensive starters heading into the game. S Andrew Sendejo is back, but fellow S Harrison Smith was ruled out and so was LB Anthony Barr. The defensive line is banged up, too, with DE Everson Griffen and DT Linval Joseph both questionable and with reserve DL Scott Crichton placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Saturday. Six rookies started the game last week for Arizona, and don't be surprised if the number is nearly as high this week, and even if a bunch of rookies don't start they will still be asked to contribute because of all the injuries on defense.
Offense must convert opportunities
QB Teddy Bridgewater and his receivers were a touch off in Week 8 against the Bears, missing multiple opportunities for big plays in the passing game. Plus the offense was 0 for 2 in the red zone. With the defense banged up for today's game, the offense will be asked to step up. The key to getting the job done for the offense will be to take advantage of opportunities.
Two RBs better than one in Chicago
In the Week 8 matchup between these two teams, RB Matt Forte was lost midway through the game to injury; he had 14 touches for 69 yards at the time. Rookie Jeremy Langford stepped in and managed to gain 46 yards on 12 carries in Forte's stead. Since then, Forte has gotten healthy and will be in the lineup today, but Langford has come into his own and is now a legitimate offensive option for the Bears. Langford has 6 TDs in 5 games since Week 8, and he's a player the Vikings defense will have to deal with today.
The Vikings have a good RB, too
**Chicago isn't the only team with an impressive situation at RB in this game. The Vikings have the best RB in the NFL in Adrian Peterson, who entered Week 15 action as the NFL's leading rusher. While the passing game will have to step up this week, make no mistake that the bread and butter of this offense is the running game, with Peterson the lead horse. Peterson had one of his six 200-yard games this season against the Bears in Week 8, gaining 103 yards on 20 tough carries. Expect a similar or increased workload for Peterson today, and if the Vikings are to win it will likely require a TD this time from Peterson against a Bears team that has allowed more TDs to Peterson than any other NFL franchise.
Special teams will be a factor
**Dating all the way back to the Devin Hester days, special teams has seemed to always play a factor in Vikings-Bears games. They did in Week 8, actually, with Marcus Sherels' first-half punt return TD looming large throughout the contest. With the weather being cold, expect both kick return groups to get chances and it could make life a bit more difficult for the place kickers. Robbie Gould has missed two clutch kicks in the last two weeks while Blair Walsh nailed a 54-yarder last week, albeit with perfect conditions at Arizona.
If you're one to let your focus shift from the game right in front of you to the scoreboard, today will be a busy day. The Vikings must keep their attention on handling a Bears team that will likely give them their best shot, but fans and observers will be watching all the NFC East games plus the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. With a win, the Vikings can clinch a playoff spot today if either the Giants or Redskins lose and then either the Falcons or Seahawks lose.