Vikings, Bears face off in NFC North contest
By The Sports Xchange
The Minnesota Vikings are out of the crowded NFC North race, but they’re doing their best to play spoiler for division rivals. After playing Green Bay to a tie, the Vikings (2-8-1) will try to deal a blow to another title contender’s hopes when they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Bears had a chance to gain ground on the rest of the division last week but were pounded 42-21 by St. Louis.
Chicago (6-5) is looking for a season sweep for the third time in four years after winning 31-30 at home in Week 2 on Jay Cutler’s touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left. The Bears won’t have Cutler under center this time, as he remains sidelined with a high ankle sprain and Josh McCown will make his third consecutive start and his fourth in the last five games. The Bears have won seven of the last eight meetings but lost in their last trip to Minnesota, falling 21-14 last season as Adrian Peterson gashed them for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
About the Bears
Chicago’s recent struggles can’t be pinned on McCown, who has passed for seven touchdowns with only one interception and boasts a 100.8 rating. Matt Forte didn’t practice Wednesday, but coach Marc Trestman told reporters he is optimistic about the running back’s status for Sunday. The Bears already have the league’s worst run defense and they’ll likely be without three defensive starters — linebacker Lance Briggs, cornerback Charles Tillman and defensive tackle Stephen Paea.
About the Vikings
The Vikings let one get away last week, blowing a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter of their 26-26 tie with the Packers. Christian Ponder is back in the driver’s seat of the team’s quarterback carousel and passed for 233 yards and a touchdown last week. Peterson is still the force that drives the offense, though, and he averages 107.7 yards and has 14 touchdowns in 11 career games against Chicago.
- The Bears have scored at least 18 points in the first 11 games of the season for the first time in franchise history.
- Peterson needs three rushing yards to go over 1,000 for the sixth time in his seven-year career. The only time he failed to reach the milestone was in 2011, when his season was cut short by injury and he finished with 970.
- Bears WR Brandon Marshall has tallied more than 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in each of his past two games against Minnesota.
Prediction: Bears 30, Vikings 27