Week 2: Vikings-Bears matchup analysis

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Minnesota (0-1) at Chicago (1-0)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at Soldier Field, Chicago - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin
*Keys to the game: The Bears want to come out firing to put the weight of the game on Christian Ponder, the unproven Vikings' quarterback who was intercepted three times and had four turnovers in last week's loss at Detroit. Keeping the ball in Matt Forte's hands is the strength of the Bears' offense. The Vikings couldn't slow down Detroit Lions' RB Reggie Bush and should be prepared for a barrage of short throws and screens. QB Jay Cutler will look to WR Brandon Marshall and TE Martellus Bennett to pick apart a back-to-front zone defense that missed too many tackles last week. Ponder is 1-5 on the road in the NFC North. Feeding Adrian Peterson is a given that could keep the Vikings in the game, but Ponder must come up with more plays to get the win. The Vikings went 2 for 10 on third downs last week. Working away from Charles Tillman, who had two interceptions in the opener, could lead Ponder to TE John Carlson.
*Matchup to watch - Vikings P Jeff Locke against Bears PR Devin Hester: Locke gave the Lions a short field twice, leading to 10 easy points, and the rookie's punts lacked hangtime. If he hits low line drives, Hester could add to his NFL-record TD-return total. He has four against the Vikings, more than any other opponent.
*Player spotlight - Vikings LT Matt Kalil: He's struggling with technique, and hasn't been able to find the rhythm that made him a Pro Bowl pick as a rookie in 2012. Settling in won't be a cinch this week opposite DE Julius Peppers.
*Fast facts: The Vikings have scored 33 points in their past three games at Soldier Field. ... In three games against DE Jared Allen, Bears LT Jermon Bushrod has never allowed a sack.
The Bears have the talent edge. With a hot start and a clean pocket for Jay Cutler, Chicago spikes Minnesota to give coach Marc Trestman a 2-0 record.
*Our pick: Bears 34-17

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