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Week 8 Preview: Vikings at Bears

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The Sports Xchange

Minnesota Vikings (4-2) at Chicago Bears (2-4)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Soldier Field, Chicago – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Holly Sonders

*Keys to the game: Adrian Peterson should be salivating for a shot at the Chicago run defense. The Bears allow 124.8 yards per game, including 155 in their last game Week 6 facing a Lions running game with myriad issues. The Bears are getting more out of their pass rush – four consecutive games with multiple sacks – and the Vikings’ mish-mash offensive line doesn’t fit up well against a 3-4 front. The Bears are susceptible inside the numbers, and QB Teddy Bridgewater is building a dynamite rapport with electric playmaker WR Stefon Diggs (17.1 yards per catch), who is the type of quick-twitch target that gives the Bears’ secondary fits.

Bears RB Matt Forte stares down a Vikings run defense with growing confidence, holding four of five opponents to 90 yards or less since the opening-week debacle at San Francisco. Forte is the key to QB Jay Cutler’s confident play. Cutler has enough weapons to spread the ball around but needs Forte to dig in early to create those wide passing lanes downfield. Both teams are finding success on third downs, where Cutler is fourth in the NFL with a 114.0 passer rating.

*Matchup to watch – Bridgewater vs. Bears coordinator Vic Fangio: From the blueprint of his old team, the 49ers – Bridgewater was sacked five times with two turnovers at San Francisco in Week 1 – Fangio will attack hoping to force the ball out of Bridgewater’s hands and invite poor decisions. With 19 sacks allowed in six games, the Vikings are no stone wall and Chicago’s wave of young talent in the front seven can be relentless.

*Player spotlight – Bears WR Alshon Jeffery: Healthy for the first time since OTAs, Jeffery has 23 catches in two games and caught 11-135-1 in Minnesota’s last visit.

*Fast facts: Peterson has averaged 143.3 rushing yards in his past four games vs. Chicago. … Cuter is 7-0 all-time at home against the Vikings.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Poor offensive line work caused erratic play from the Vikings thus far, but the defense is showing its teeth with the ability to harass Jay Cutler and contain Matt Forte to lighten QB Teddy Bridgewater’s load.

*Our pick: Vikings 27-17.


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