Game Scout: Bears at Vikings

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Chicago Bears (6-5) at Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Mall of America Field, Minneapolis - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin
*Keys to the game: Long, time-consuming drives are the order of the day from Bears coach Marc Trestman, who needs the offense to play keep-away to minimize the self-inflicted damage of his defense. Chicago hogged the ball last week -- for 36 minutes in St. Louis -- but a putrid run defense giving up an NFL-worst 145.2 yards per game is a handicap. The Bears will play man defense, with one safety, hoping to hem in RB Adrian Peterson. Hamstring and groin problems are slowing Peterson, but a season-high 146 yards on 32 carries in last week's tie against the Packers are an indication he's ready to be fed against Chicago's pliable front seven. QB Josh McCown is mobile, but he hasn't done much damage outside the pocket and will be wary of venturing outside the tackles with DE Jared Allen and Brian Robison lingering. More could fall to McCown if RB Matt Forte (knee) is on a pitch count. If the Bears beat the initial jam at the line of scrimmage, big WRs Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall could do significant damage against the Vikings defensive backs.
*Matchup to watch - Vikings CB Marcus Sherels vs. Bears WR Alshon Jeffery: Josh Robinson and Xavier Rhodes are hurt and A.J. Jefferson was released. Sherels, a 5-10, 180-pound corner stands a small chance holding back the 6-5 Jeffery, who has 58 catches and is on his way to a 1,000-yard second year in the NFL (860 yards).
*Player spotlight - Bears RS Devin Hester: A return touchdown in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis was called back last week. Hester has one return touchdown this season, but had 249 kickoff-return yards against the Vikings Sept. 15.
*Fast facts - The Bears have allowed 49 rushes of 10-plus yards this season. ... Vikings PK Blair Walsh (2012) and Bears PK Robbie Gould are the only two kickers with 12 straight made field goals from 50-plus yards.
Adrian Peterson can keep the Vikings in the game and even win it on his own. But if Chicago can get on the board early and often, the Vikings will have to throw into the teeth of the Bears defense.
*Our pick: Bears 24-19

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