Tale Of The Tape: Minnesota Vikings At Chicago Bears
- QuarterbackThe Vikings are hoping that Christian Ponder shows significant improvement over his 2012 form, but they did not see any evidence of that in their Week One loss to the Lions. Ponder does not have enough arm strength, gets nervous in the pocket and rarely plays with consistency.Jay Cutler came through with a solid performance in the season opener, as he led the Bears to a come-from-behind win over the Bengals. While Cutler did not have a lot of spectacular throws, he read the defense well, took advantage of his opportunities and stayed calm under pressure. Cutler has one of the strongest arms in the league and has the athleticism to make plays on the run.
- OffenseAdrian Peterson started the season in Hollywood fashion with his explosive 78-yard touchdown run on the first offensive play of the game. Peterson’s power will allow him to run through nearly every first hit and he has the speed to turn any carry into a big play. The Vikings need Greg Jennings to get open consistently. Jerome Simpson looks like a solid complementary receiver.Cutler has a solid receiver in Brandon Marshall, who can catch the ball well in his hands and then bowl over tacklers once he receives the ball. Matt Forte is a versatile one-cut running back who is also dangerous as a receiver. Second-year wideout Alshon Jeffery has the ability to get open on third downs. The Bears’ offensive line looks much improved as Cutler was not sacked once in Week One.
- DefenseThe Vikings did not have their best defensive effort against the Lions as they had a tough time covering speedy Reggie Bush out of the backfield. Linebackers Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway combined for 19 tackles vs. Detroit, but both need to get more help from the defensive line if the Vikings are going to stop the Bears.The Bears could have problems with Jennings, who tormented them for years during his tenure in Green Bay. Look for defensive end Julius Peppers and linebacker Lance Briggs to be at their best in the confrontation with Peterson. Charles Tillman had two picks and is a threat to take the ball away every time he is on the field.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings will depend on PK Blair Walsh to give them a boost at windy Soldier Field. He connected on a 52-yard attempt at Detroit in Week One. Rookie Cordarelle Patterson has good speed and averaged 27 yards on kickoff returns in his debut.After ending the 2012 season on the injured list, Robbie Gould is back in the lineup for Chicago and he kicked a Soldier Field-record 58-yard field goal in Week One. Adam Podlesh is dependable and he dropped three of his five punts inside the Cincinnati 20. He regularly gets excellent height on his kicks.
The Bears did just enough to win their home opener against a very tough Cincinnati team. They should be able to exert their will against the Vikings, who seem to have little to offer except Adrian Peterson. That should be enough in some home games, but it’s not enough on the road against a versatile opponent. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor