With a victory at home, the 5-3 Bears can move into a tie with the Packers for first place in the NFC North. The 3-5 Vikings need a victory to remain in contention for a playoff berth, which would be next to impossible with a loss. It might also cost head coach Brad Childress his job —or at least push him to the brink of unemployment.
Keys for the Bears
• After three losses in four games, the Bears at least tried to run in last week’s victory over the Bills in Toronto. And they need to maintain that commitment to keep defenses honest and from coming after quarterback Jay Cutler in waves.
• The Bears have done an excellent job stopping the run most of the season, but they need to create more pressure on the quarterback because Brett Favre showed last week that he can still light up a defense. The Bears had only one sack of Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last week on 52 passing plays.
Keys or the Vikings
• The Vikings need to fire up the pass rush. It’s been a major part of their success in recent years but has been missing in action for most of the 2010 season. They’ve allowed an average of 26 points in their last four games.
• Favre needs to take better care of the ball. His 13 interceptions are the most in the NFL, and the Bears have picked off four passes in the past two games and seven in the past four.
The Bears have home field, but if they get off to a slow start it won’t take long for the crowd to become restless, especially with Cutler and the offense. The Vikings are desperate, and they know that sweeping their two remaining games with the Bears could help them sneak back into the playoff picture. The Vikings have been plagued by turmoil off the field, but they are still the more talented team. Vikings 23–20.