Date: Monday, December 28, 2009.
Location: Soldier Field
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Vikings Keys For Success
1. Attack QB Jay Cutler. Minnesota opponents are using more three-step drops and quick throws to counter the Vikings' pass rush. The Vikings should expect that from Cutler and have a plan to counter it. If the Vikings can't hit him, the secondary has to be ready to make tackles and not allow extra yardage after the catch.
2. Tackle better. The Vikings' tackling problems last week at Carolina were widespread. It wasn't an issue that was confined to one group of players or caused by one common problem. If the Vikings don't tackle well, Bears running back Matt Forte and the underwhelming Chicago receivers could make big plays.
3. Start quickly. The Vikings' offense excelled at getting off to quick starts for much of the season. The team outscored opponents 52-19 in the first quarter through the first eight games. But the offense has been sluggish since, outscoring the opposition just 10-7 in the first quarter the past six games. A quick start Monday night would take the pressure off.
Bears Keys For Success
1. Maintain gap discipline. Bears defensive ends Alex Brown and Mark Anderson must stand their ground and not sell out on the outside pass rush as they both tend to do. The Bears' defense has gotten into its share of problems against Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson by giving him running lanes outside of the tackles on stretch plays. This isn't an easy thing to achieve when Viking tackles Bryant McKinnie (6-8, 335) and Phil Loadholt (6-8, 343) are quite a bit bigger than Anderson (6-4, 255) and Brown (6-3, 260).
2. Wrap up the tackle. Defensive players must wrap up when tackling Peterson, but they also should borrow a page from Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and slap or punch at the ball. Peterson has fumbled six times this year, losing five, including two against the Bears in Week 12. Peterson has lost a dozen fumbles in his career, and the cold weather won't help.
3. Stay alive. Cutler's biggest flaw in the red zone has been his unwillingness to admit a play is not going to work and throw away the ball. It's better to live to fight another day than make a bad throw into coverage. Yet Cutler is having big problems comprehending this. He must recognize when he's beat on a play and be willing to go on to the next one.