Sunday’s Week 13 matchup between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings seems to favor the Bears at first glance. After all, the Bears are tied for first in the NFC North while the Vikings have only one two games all season. But these two teams played each other in a battle to the wire earlier this season and the momentum of both teams looks like we’re in for another tight battle in a critical divisional showdown.
The Vikings and the Bears last faced each other once earlier this season in Week 2 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Vikings took a 30-24 lead late into the fourth quarter of that game, but Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler led his team down the field and hooked up with wide receiver Martelles Bennett in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown with ten seconds left on the game clock. Robbie Gould’s extra point sealed the Bears’ 31-30 victory.
It has been a season of uncertainty at the quarterback position for the Vikings, who have gone back and forth with Christian Ponder as the starter, benching him at times for Matt Cassell or Josh Freeman. Ponder was most recently benched during the Vikings’ Week 11 loss against Seattle, but he started the Week 12 game against Green Bay and held his own, completing 21 of 30 passes for 233 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions en route to an overtime tie with the Packers. He’ll likely be under center against Chicago on Sunday after an improved performance.
Despite holding part of first place in the NFC North, the Bears have been having a rough season at the quarterback position as well, but not because of poor play has been solid this season, throwing for over 1900 yards with 13 touchdowns, but injuries to his groin and ankle have resulted in him only playing in eight of the Bears’ 11 games so far. The ankle injury that Cutler is nursing right now leaves his status up in the air for Sunday’s contest against Minnesota.
In Cutler’s absence, backup quarterback Josh McCown has been decent, but inconsistency has held the Bears to just a 2-3 record in the games in which Cutler hasn’t taken the majority of the snaps. Their most recent game was a loss to the 42-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams in Week 12.
The Bears lost their most recent game because the Rams ran the ball for 258 yards against Chicago’s poor run defense. That is something that could pose a problem for Chicago in Sunday’s game, as Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combined for 237 rushing yards in Week 12 against Green Bay. Peterson is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards and will be getting the ball in his hands a lot on Sunday, testing the Bears’ run defense.
The key for Chicago on Sunday will be throwing the ball against a Minnesota defense that has allowed the third most yards in the air in the NFL this season. With either Cutler or McCown at quarterback on Sunday, the Bears wide receivers will have to exploit this matchup and make plays down the field. Brandon Marshall and second year standout Ashlon Jeffery are likely the key players in Sunday’s game for the Bears.
The NFC North picture could look more clear by Sunday, as the Detroit Lions host the Packers on Thanksgiving. If the Packers pull out a win, the Bears will have a chance to take first place by themselves by beating Minnesota. The Vikings will definitely be looking to play spoiler, however, in this key NFC North game.
Leslie loves sports and writes about them for various websites.