If the Vikings defense can hold the likes of the Packers and Panthers in check, who knows what the Bears can muster without Kyle Long, Eddie Royal and possibly Josh Sitton? That top-ranked unit has allowed eight touchdowns in six games, just one in each of the last four. So this becomes a “How Low Can They Go?” when it comes to the Bears’ defense versus Minni’s attack, and the need for complementary football. Oh, and how about avoiding a fourth straight 10-penalty game?
1. Use an edge on the edge
We’ll see how much help Norv Turner gives left tackle T.J. Clemmings and the right tackle combo of Jeremiah Sirles and Jake Long, but they were abused last week, albeit by a better defense. Still, this is a chance for Leonard Floyd to build on the flash he showed in Green Bay with his two-sack, touchdown performance, for Willie Young to add to his six sacks and for Pernell McPhee to make his presence felt after knocking rust off with just 19 snaps versus the Packers. Sam Bradford was sacked a half-dozen times and hit 15 times in Philly. Let’s see if the Bears’ pass rush can come anywhere close to that. Going up against what’s likely the NFL’s top defense, points will be hard to come by. The defense will have to keep the Vikes’ offense at a low number.
2. Show what 'Shon can do
It’s not the ideal defense to gamble against. Minnesota entered the week with nine interceptions, 16 takeaways, and a league-best plus-11 turnover ratio. At 1-6, do a few downfield gambles to Alshon Jeffery now that Jay Cutler is back outweigh the risk? Three of Jeffery’s 13 100-yard games have come against the Vikings, who still get elite cornerback play from Xavier Rhodes and forever-young Terence Newman, not to mention Trae Waynes and Captain Munnerlyn. But Jeffery’s zero touchdowns this season linked to the conservative, interception-free play from Brian Hoyer has been an underlying storyline (albeit not coming from offensive co-captain Jeffery). If there can be enough success keeping the Vikes honest with a dose of intermediate production from Cam Meredith and Zach Miller, let’s see whether the “franchise” wideout can do some damage.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
3. Stay in your lane and contain
If the defense can get off the field consistently, and if the offense can do enough to offset whatever damage the defense takes and those two phases succeed in keeping it a close, low-scoring game, here come the special teams. Cordarrelle Patterson (four kickoff) and Marcus Sherels (five punt) have nine career return touchdowns between them, and each has one at Soldier Field. The once “money” Blair Walsh has had a crisis of confidence since last January’s short game-winning attempt caromed off the left upright versus Seattle and has been shaky on extra points, as well. But then again, it’s Halloween, and who knows what the Bears might get from Connor Barth in the event the offense does enough against that defense to get in position to score?
Get ready for Monday night’s matchup at 6:30 p.m. on CSN Plus when ex-Bears Jim Miller, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Chris on Bears Pregame Live. As soon as the second quarter ends, log on CSNChicago.com for Halftime Live as Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments. As soon as the game ends, flip back to CSN when Dave Wannstedt joins Jim, Alex, Lance and Chris for 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, live John Fox and Jay Cutler press conferences and locker room reaction on Bears Postgame Live.