Three Bears necessities to a win over the Vikings


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 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." **

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20.