Bears

Three Bears necessities to a win over the Vikings

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Three Bears necessities to a win over the Vikings

Backs to the wall

Since Matt Forte entered the NFL in 2008, he and Adrian Peterson rank 1-2 in total yards from scrimmage. While Teddy Bridgewater threw for a career-best 335 yards 10 days ago in Arizona, and was driving towards a tying field goal in the closing seconds before he was strip-sacked, he's rarely proved his arm can lead the Vikes to victory when Peterson's been held under wraps. Despite mysteriously carrying only 20 times in the first meeting, Peterson and his fellow rushers outgained Forte — who was injured in the third quarter — and Jeremy Langford by 50 yards. That helped keep the visitors in it, and eventually win it with a couple of late Bridgewater tosses — a TD when Stefon Diggs escaped from Sherrick McManis, and an Antrel Rolle interception-turned-reception that set up the winning field goal. Can the Bears duo — behind an offensive line in need of a bounce-back game — provide more total yardage against the hosts defense without at least two key starters — Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith — than the Vikings can against the visitors' 26th-ranked unit versus the run?

[SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Cutty to the chase

Jay Cutler has more career wins against the Vikings (eight) than any other opponent, has a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 91.7 passer rating. He also won't have to worry about Smith, who's picked him off three times. He also should have Alshon Jeffery, and provided Cutler's primary target doesn't aggravate the calf injury that limited him in practice this week, Minnesota's never quite had an answer for him. Jeffery's averaged 6.5 catches, 100 yards, and just under a touchdown in six career meetings, including a 10-catch, 116-yard day on Nov. 1. Let's see if the duo can slice and dice the same way Sunday.

[MORE: Bears-Vikings: And the winner is...]

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Marcus Sherels' 65-yard punt return in the first meeting was the third kick return touchdown Bears special teams allowed in the first seven games, amidst other big returns. Things have mostly quieted down since, as one would hope as the revolving door on coverage teams has slowed down. We'll see how quiet against Sherels and Cordarrelle Patterson, who leads the league with a 31.1-yard kickoff return average, with two touchdowns. No NFL team has scored more special teams TD's in the past five years than Mike Priefer's squads — the 11 includes a pair of blocked punt returns. But what do you say we throw in Robbie Gould getting back in a groove, too, after missing six of his last 15 field goal attempts.

[RELATED: Vikings will be without Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr vs. Bears]

** Let Comcast SportsNet lead you up to kickoff by joining Lance Briggs, Dan Jiggetts, Jim Miller and Chris at 11 a.m for "Bears Pregame Live, brought to you by Meijer." Then as soon as the second quarter ends, come back here to CSNChicago.com as Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over adjustments on "Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live." And as soon as the game ends on Fox, switch back to Comcast SportsNet as Chris and the three ex-Bears bring you 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, live press conference, plus locker room interviews on "Nissan Bears Postgame Live." **

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

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USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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