The Bears defense has given up 71 points the last two games. The Vikings' star-studded group that may have been the NFL's best early in the season? 72 points the last two weeks in losses to the Colts and Packers.

The headline in this since the end of Saturday's game at Lambeau was Head Coach Mike Zimmer charging Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes conspiring with longtime Zimmer student Terence Newman to go "rogue" on the defensive gameplan. Seems Zimmer wanted Rhodes to shadow Jordy Nelson, but the players conspired during the week to just stay on one side each, no matter where Nelson lined up (nine catches, 154 yards, two touchdowns). At some point in the first half, with some gray area as to exactly when, the steam coming out of Zimmer's ears finally reached the two.  By that time, the Vikings were already in catch-up mode.  Monday was spent trying to spin the miscommunication into something more short-lived.

The season numbers are still very good, and they'll no doubt want to finish with a positive statement versus turnover-prone Matt Barkley after Jay Cutler actually played smart, effective, and turnover-free in his return from injury on Halloween. That night turned into Jordan Howard's national coming-out party, with a career-high 153 yards on 26 carries, the second of which went for 69 yards.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Second-year man Danielle Hunter's 12 sacks trails only Vic Beasley and Von Miller, yet he was not among three Vikings defenders going to the Pro Bowl (Rhodes, end Everson Griffen, and safety Harrison Smith). Hunter doesn't actually start, but certainly makes the most of his role rotating in. Griffen has eight sacks, but just two in the last seven games (coming in the same game). 33-year-old Brian Robison has seven sacks off the other edge. They've lost a bit inside when Tom Johnson recently went down after ex-first-rounder Sharif Floyd never played beyond a knee injury in the season opener. Run-stuffer Linval Joseph remains a force, with Shamar Stephen trying to pick up the slack.

The front triggers a unit that's created 22 turnovers and 39 sacks (two more than the Bears' total). UCLA products Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks (99 tackles, nine passes defensed) will be linebacking forces to be gameplanned for for years to come, while Sunday may be 33-year-old Chad Greenway's swan song after 11 strong seasons in the Twin Cities.

Smith's been nicked-up a bit of late but returned Saturday after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, while Andrew Sendejo keeps coming back for more on the strong side. Rhodes has earned his keep (if not his coaching certificate) with four interceptions (after just a pair in his first three seasons), while the 38-year-old Newman (who played for Zimmer in Dallas and Cincinnati, as well) keeps holding off 2015 first-rounder Trae Waynes.   


Bears coverage teams did an excellent job on Halloween night containing the league's top kickoff returner, Pro Bowler Cordarrelle Patterson (31.5 average, TD this season), but Marcus Sherels (the NFL's third-best punt returner - 13.0 average, two TDs) missed the game. After kicker Blair Walsh missed four field goals and four extra points, Zimmer finally tired of the former Pro Bowler at mid-season, replacing him with Kai Forbath.  He's been perfect on 14 field goal attempts, though is just 6-of-9 on extra points.