I’m talking to you, Sparrowguy. Minnesota is 4-1, and in the NFL, 4-1 is 4-1. Their schedule has on par with the Bears’ to this point, and they certainly have a “quality win” right now over a good 49ers team, whereas the Bears really only have a MNF blowout over a typically underachieving Cowboys bunch.
But that’s not really the point here, I’m talking about the team in general. The 2012 Vikings remind me a whole lot of the 2005 NFC North Champs. Kyle “Neck Beard” Orton’s Chicago Bears. Currently, the Vikes are one of the best run-stop defenses in the NFL, and their secondary is in the top half of the league. They give up only 304 yards per game and are 6th in points allowed at 15.8. Percy Harvin is a dangerous receiver, averaging over 10 yards per catch, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave continues to find effective ways to get the ball in his hands. Their rushing attack is top 10 in yards per game, and special teams play has also excelled with Harvin averaging nearly 40 yards on kickoff returns.
Bottom line, they are a good football team.
Christian Ponder is completing 70% of his passes and until last Sunday, had not thrown an interception. As long as he simply manages the game and doesn’t give the ball away, they’ll continue to have a chance to win every weekend. Just like Kyle Orton & The Bears when they won the North in ‘05. Hand offs, swing passes & screens, an occasional shot deep, and a staunch defense on the other side of the ball make them a tough team to beat.
The Bears will see the Vikings twice in a 3 weeks stretch starting in week 12, with a good chance both teams show up to the first meeting sitting on top of the division.
Between now and then, the Bears schedule shakes out like this: Bye Week, Lions, Panthers, Titans, Texans, 49ers.
Minnesota faces the likely RG3-less Redskins this weekend, Cardinals, Bucs, Seahawks, Lions, then hit their Bye Week.
Looking at those match ups, there’s a good chance the Bears lose 1 game. One loss could come at home on Sunday Night Football against the best team in the NFL or the following week on the road at Candlestick Park. Phatty where are your ‘the Bears are sooooo good on MNF’ stats?
So let’s say the Bears are 8-2, and so are the Vikings if they drop one to an “are they for real?” NFC West Team in Arizona/Seattle, or the Lions play to their potential and Stafford’s face looks less fat for a day while he throws 3 TDs and only 1 INT.
Week 12 will then feature the Vikings coming into Soldier Field tied with the Bears for the division lead and fresh off a bye. The Bears come back on short rest from a dreaded two-time-zone trip, following consecutive weeks against elite football teams. They’ll be exhausted physically and mentally, making this Vikings game a trap in every sense of the word. Assume the worst happens and the Bears come out flat, lose and fall a game behind Minnesota in the division. Look for a Phatty column about how the sky IS falling.
Then the Bears have the Seahawks at home before heading up to the Twin Cities for a rematch with the Vikings, who now could be in sole possession of the North, playing in front of their home crowd.
So Sparrow, your “nice, 2 wins in 3 weeks against the Vikings” comment is far from a sure thing. In fact, the way that sets up it could just as easily be 2 losses in 3 weeks against the Vikings followed by a home game against the rival Packers and 2 road contests at Arizona and Detroit to finish the season. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, simply realistic looking forward beyond the current 4-1 standing.
The Bears’ first 8 opponents are a combined 13-24. The back 8 are against teams who are a combined 27-12, only 2 of which have losing records, 1 of those is the Packers and the current assumption has to be that they’ll right the ship before then.
Don’t count your playoff chickens before they hatch.