Series: Vikings lead 52-47-2
Last Meeting(s): Chicago destroyed Minnesota 39-10 earlier this year at Soldier Field. Devin Hester caught a 48-yard touchdown pass on the Bears’ opening drive and took a kickoff 98 yards for a score in the third quarter. It could have been Donovan McNabb’s last NFL start ever: he went 19-24 for 177 yards before being replaced by Christian Ponder.
The last time the Vikings played Chicago in a Week 17, it was an equally meaningless game—Chicago had already clinched its playoff seed and Minnesota had already clinched its barely-over-.500-seed. In the 2005 season finale, Kyle Orton left the game early, giving way to Jeff Blake, and the Vikings won easily, 34-10. Minnesota racked up 396 yards of offense behind Brad Johnson and finished the year 9-7, but Mike Tice was fired basically as soon as the game ended.
Streak(s): Chicago has now won four straight. The Bears won at TCF Bank Stadium last year, but they haven’t won in the Metrodome since 2006. The first offensive touchdown in the 2006 Week 3 game came with under two minutes in the fourth quarter. Robbie Gould and Ryan Longwell had combined for seven field goals and Antoine Winfield had scored Minnesota’s only touchdown on a seven yard interception return. The Vikings nearly had the game in hand with three and a half minutes remaining, but fumbled on a 3rd and 8 at their own 43—in a game this ugly, a punt might have been enough to seal the deal. Does anybody miss Brad Johnson-Rex Grossman matchups? What? You say we played Rex Grossman last week and he was better than our starting quarterback? And now Ponder is playing against Josh McCown? I still don’t miss Johnson-Grossman, unless McCown throws a hail mary…
Hit or Miss: In terms of ‘quality,’ this series has been a toss-up in recent years. Since 2007, a span of nine games, each team has scored 30-plus points five times (three times in the same game). The generally-solid Bears’ defense has been atrocious a couple of times against Minnesota while Devin Hester and the Bears’ special teams have destroyed the Vikings. In that span, there have been scores of 34-14 (MIN, 2008), 36-10 (MIN, 2009), 40-14 (CHI, 2010), and 39-10 (CHI, 2011). Then there was a 2007 Sunday night game where Tarvaris Jackson threw three picks and Chicago managed only 209 yards; Minnesota won 20-13. Last season, Brett Favre and Jay Cutler threw five interceptions and Chicago committed 11 penalties for 116 yards in the Bears’ 27-13 win.
That’s all pretty bad, but there were three thrillers: Minnesota won 34-31 thanks to Adrian Peterson’s 224 yards and three touchdowns in 2007; Chicago won an insane 48-41 game in 2008; and Cutler out-dueled Favre in overtime for a 36-30 Week 16 win in 2009.
Jared Allen: 4.5 sacks in one game seems pretty unlikely, especially if the Bears follow their Week 16 gameplan, which was basically run-run-run-punt. Still, Allen has been very successful sack-wise against the Bears, tallying 9.5 against Chicago since joining the Vikings. He also had an interception earlier this year against the Bears.
Read about all of Week 17’s games on Brad’s blog.