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.
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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.
** 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." **