Minnesota Vikings (5-1) vs. Chicago Bears (1-6)
8:30pm ET on ESPN
Well, here’s a mismatch. The Minnesota Vikings, proud owners of the NFL’s fifth-best point differential, third-best record, and stingiest defense, are gonna roll into Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears, who have the second-worst record in the league, third-worst point differential, and score the fewest points. You can actually smell the bloodbath on the horizon.
It’s not often a team loses its Pro Bowl QB for the year and its star running back in Week 2, and manage to start the season 5-0, but the Vikes did it without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson, before finally falling last week to the Eagles 21-10, in a game that saw the Eagles D swarm Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford like angry bees. Philly sacked Bradford 6 times and forced his first interception of the year, as well as his first two fumbles. Bradford was particularly bad in the red zone, throwing a pick down at Philly’s 6-yard line, and fumbling on 1st-and-10 from the Philly 17. All that coupled with the Minnesota special teams surrendering a 98-yard kickoff return for a TD and the Vikes were shooting themselves in the foot all day. Nonetheless, they still have an elite defense, and even Sam Bradford is entitled to a bad day against another punishing defense.
After just 7 games, the Bears are already on their second 3-game losing streak, getting beaten last week 26-10 by the Packers. Chicago’s secondary got dinked and dunked to death by Aaron Rodgers, as the Green Bay QB connected on 39 of 56 for 326 yards and 3 TDs. Making matters worse for the Bears was that QB Brian Hoyer broke his arm, giving way to third string quarterback Matt Barkley, who hit on 6 of 15 for 81 yards and 2 interceptions. But don’t despair, Bears fans, Jay Cutler is back!
Cutler, the franchise leader in games started at QB and QB wins (no, really), has missed the last 5 games with a sprained thumb, after starting the season 0-2 with 373 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions, and having his manhood called into question by seemingly every talk radio show in America. It’s unlikely Cutler would be back this early if not for Hoyer’s busted wing, and Cutler at less than 100% has not been a recipe for success. Some in the press are suggesting that the timing of Cutler’s return is fortuitous given that he’s 8-5 against the Vikings in his career, which is true enough, but he’s lost 4 of his last 6 against them, including the last 3 in a row.
The Vikings are better in nearly every facet of the game, are among the very best on defense, and though they’ve suffered two huge injuries, have quickly stabilized and overcome the absences of their Pro Bowl QB and running back. The Bears are a mess, their fans counting down the hours until the front office terminates Cutler’s employment.