CHICAGO BEARS (8-4)
at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-6)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Chicago -3, Total: 39
Slumping Chicago looks to get back on the winning track as it tries to retain its dominance over division foe Minnesota on Sunday.
With their grip on the NFC North slipping after three losses in four games, the Bears won’t mind a trip to Mall of America Field considering they’ve won six in a row, SU and ATS, over the Vikings. Just two weeks ago in Chicago, the Bears fell behind 3-0 early then scored 25 unanswered in an eventual 28-10 win. They had only 296 yards of offense in the win, but in true Bears fashion they held Minnesota to 258 and forced three turnovers. Chicago blew a lead late and then gave up a TD on the first drive of overtime in a 23-17 home loss to Seattle last week. The defense is really hurting with LB Brian Urlacher out (hamstring) and NFL interception leader CB Tim Jennings (shoulder) doubtful. The Vikings lost at Green Bay last week, dropping them to 1-4 (SU and ATS) in their past five games. They have turned it over multiple times in seven of their past eight games, and had to place top WR Percy Harvin (ankle) on season-ending IR earlier this week.
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Bears QB Jay Cutler has been outstanding in his career versus Minnesota, going 6-1 with a 98.8 passer rating. He's completed 67% of his passes for 1,552 yards (222 YPG), 16 TD and 7 INT. Two weeks ago, he completed 74% of his throws (23-of-31) for 188 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, and took only one sack for the third straight meeting with Minnesota. Cutler also played very well last week (17-of-26, 233 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT), marking Chicago's first game of 200 net passing yards since Week 5. Cutler has been relying heavily on WR Brandon Marshall (91 catches, 1,182 yards), who has 49% of his team's receiving yards this year. Marshall caught 12 passes for 92 yards against the Vikings two weeks ago, and followed that up with a season-best 165 yards on in the overtime loss to Seattle last Sunday. He'll be loaded up with targets again with WRs Earl Bennett and Devin Hester doubtful with concussions and rookie WR Alshon Jeffery questionable with a knee injury. The Bears have done a nice job with their ground attack this season (123 rush YPG, 10th in NFL), and will continue to pound the football with Matt Forte and occasionally Michael Bush. Forte has just 3.9 YPC in eight career meetings with the Vikings, but he has enjoyed the fast track in Minnesota with 284 total yards and 4.6 YPC in three career games there. Bush had a season-high 60 rushing yards and 2 TD against the Vikings two weeks ago, but he needed 21 carries (2.9 YPC) to get those numbers. Minnesota currently ranks 14th in the NFL in both rushing defense (115 YPG) and passing defense (230 YPG), and held Chicago below both of those averages (113 rushing YPG, 183 passing YPG) two weeks ago. The Bears entered last week with eight giveaways over a three-game stretch, but played turnover-free football in the overtime defeat to Seattle.
Vikings QB Christian Ponder has had a rough second season with a 79.4 passer rating (6.0 YPA, 14 TD, 11 INT). Since Harvin was injured four weeks ago in Seattle, Ponder has thrown for just 562 yards (141 YPG) on a pathetic 4.6 YPA. However, Minnesota can still win games with the worst passing offense in football (181 pass YPG) because of their outstanding ground game ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards (155 YPG). Adrian Peterson has over 300 more rushing yards than any other player in the league, rumbling for 1,446 yards on an incredible 6.2 YPC this year. He's currently on a streak of six straight 100-yard games, gaining 947 yards (158 per game) on 7.8 YPC and 6 TD during this surge. That included his 210-yard performance last week and his 108 yards versus the Vikings two games ago. For his career, Peterson has 931 yards (5.0 YPC) and 12 TD in nine meetings with Chicago. The Bears run defense ranks 10th in the NFL with 104 rushing YPG allowed, while the passing defense ranks seventh. Chicago still leads the NFL in forced turnovers (34), but it has just four takeaways over the past three games.