by Carlos Nazario
This week the Chicago Bears are at a crossroads. They lost in front of a national audience on Monday to the Detroit Lions, which made them 2-3, 0-2 in the division against the 2 teams ahead of them.
In addition to the record, Brian Urlacher ripped the defense for its poor showing, Jay Cutler admitted that the hits are starting to have an effect on him mentally, and Jerry Angelo said publicly that the Bears lacked discipline and poise.
A loss to the team below them in the division would really get the sparks flying in Chicago. The Minnesota Vikings come into the game with a record of 1-4, that win coming last week.
Remember, however, the Vikings had a 21-0 lead at halftime of their game against the Detroit Lions. They have the potential to go off on a defense, especially when they have arguably the best running back in the game in Adrian Peterson.
Peterson owns a 97 yards/game average against the Bears, but that total has been going down from 151 yards/game average in 2007. Basically, if the Bears can stop Peterson, they can stop the Vikings.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb has only thrown for 849 yards and 4 touchdowns so far this season. The Vikings offensive line has given up 11 sacks so far, so they are not that much better than the Bears line. McNabb appears to have slowed down a bit, so if the Bears defense puts pressure on him, he should fold.
The problem is, can the Bears defense slow Peterson and get to McNabb? This is a defense that has been ripped to shreds this season. It ranks 27th against the pass, 28th against the run, and 29th in total yards.
As a result of their poor showing, head coach Lovie Smith has decided to make a change. He has benched both of the starting safeties, veterans Chris Harris and Brandon Merriweather. In their place are Major Wright, a 2nd year player, and Chris Conte, a rookie.
Smith has also made some changes to the much maligned offensive line as well. In consecutive games, right tackle Frank Omiyale has been pulled for poor performance, but then put back into the game. He is not being given a 3rd chance to fail. Lance Louis will replace him.
If the line can somehow, some way, find some time for Cutler and running back Matt Forte, the Bears should find a way to sweat out a victory.
My prediction: Bears 28 Vikings 25.