The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears will meet for an important NFC North rivalry matchup on Sunday, Sept. 15. The Vikings have already played one match within the division, but their best-case scenario here is to enter the third week at 1-1, along with the rest of the division, given their loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 1.
Last season, the Vikings split the matchups against Chicago. They won their home game, 21-14, which began their four-game winning streak to reach the playoffs at the end of the season. But they lost the road game, 28-10. This one will be played at Soldier Field, so the Vikings will have to put up a better performance than last year to win it.
Let's take a look at both teams below.
Meet the Bears
The Bears are under a new regime with head coach Marc Trestman taking his first stab at being an NFL head coach. The game didn't go so well early on, with the Chicago offensive looking lethargic, though they did manage to hold off the Cincinnati Bengals here and there. Late in the game, quarterback Jay Cutler did what he does best: passing to Brandon Marshall for game-winning touchdowns.
Cutler and the offense received the most attention this offseason. The unit was inconsistent at best last season and the offensive line was downright horrible. Playing behind a whopping four new starters on the line, Cutler threw for 242 yards, 104 of which went to Marshall.
Right now, the Bears are looking for progress. Their defense is known for creating turnovers and generally being stingy, but it will come down to Trestman's offense continuing to improve as the season goes on, more than anything.
Meet the Vikings
The Vikings were probably surprised by how well the Lions played in Week 1. After all, the Lions were a poor team last season, while the Vikings surprised everyone by making a push into the playoffs after being among the worst teams in the league in 2011. That was thanks to Adrian Peterson, who played out of his mind despite coming off a major leg injury.
Peterson played well against the Lions, with 93 yards, but quarterback Christian Ponder sunk Minnesota big time. Ponder completed 18-of-28 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown, but he also had three interceptions on the day. That gave the Lions multiple opportunities to make things happen, and they did.
The Vikings can still be a good team this season, they just need to get Ponder under control. Peterson will be productive and Ponder has receivers to throw to with Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson. He just can't be throwing three interceptions per game.
Local Takes: Bears
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. of Windy City Gridiron took a look at the Bears' rookies along the offensive line. They played well in Week 1, for the most part:
There were also a handful of times when they locked onto a defensive lineman, using good technique, but just didn't drive them very far off the ball. Their guy didn't make the tackle, and it was more of a stalemate on the line of scrimmage. On some of those instances the running back could have either bounced or bent the play back to avoid the congestion.
Overall it was a heck of a start for these two, and the bottom line is, I'm very excited to see this duo grow together.
Local Takes: Vikings
Christopher Gates of Daily Norseman says there's plenty of blame to go around in Minnesota's Week 1 loss, and that Ponder was simply ... being Ponder:
As I said in the first recap that I put up, Christian Ponder was Christian Ponder. He made a few nice throws in this one, and he mixed in a few inexplicably stupid ones as well. The one that wound up being intercepted at the end of the first half was inexcusable. He was close enough to the sideline and out of the pocket where he could have just flicked his wrist and put it out of bounds. I don't know if he was trying to get it out of bounds or if he thought he could hit Greg Jennings on the play, but it was an awful decision compounded by an even more awful throw.
That's what Ponder is right now, unfortunately. The occasional flashes are canceled out by things that just make you shake your head. He needs to know when it's time to fight another time.
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Good Tillman = INTs and strips. Bad Tillman = poor in coverage and falling down a lot. We need good Tillman.— Dane Noble (@WindyCGridiron) September 8, 2013
The Bears opened as 5-point favorites, and the line has been moving further in their favor throughout the week. They can be had for as much as 7-point favorites on some books, according to OddsShark.