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Saturday, December 8, 2012
Week 14 Nuts & Bolts: Bears at Vikings

By Michael C. Wright

CHICAGO BEARS at MINNESOTA VIKINGS

When: Noon Sunday | TV: FOX
RADIO: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM; WLEY (107.9 FM)

Vernon Davis
The Bears defense hasn't been as stifling as it was the first eight games of the season.

CHICAGO BEARS (8-4)



Coach: Lovie Smith | Record including playoffs: 82-64

Career record (including playoffs) vs. Leslie Frazier: 4-0 | Career record vs. Vikings: 11-6

Last week: Lost to the Seattle Seahawks 23-17 in OT.

Key stat:The Bears have lost three of their last four after starting the season 7-1. During the club’s 7-1 start, the defense scored seven touchdowns and averaged 3.5 takeaways. Over the last four games, the Bears haven’t scored a TD on defense while averaging 1.5 takeaways.

Offense rank: 30th (304 ypg) | Defense rank: Fifth (319 ypg).
Chicago's Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall
Chicago's Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler are connecting at a record-setting pace.

Offensive leader: Brandon Marshall needs nine catches to become the fourth player in NFL history to produce four seasons with at least 100 receptions and tie the club’s single-season record for receptions (100) set by Marty Booker in 2001. Marshall has caught 91 of the 135 passes thrown his way and according to ESPN Stats & Information has the highest percentage of his team’s targets (29.2), receptions (41.9) and receiving first downs (44.9) of any receiver in the NFL.

Defensive leader: Having played 95.2 percent of the team’s snaps over the past three seasons, cornerback Charles Tillman needs to step up and fill the leadership void left by middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury. Tillman is playing with a foot injury, and coming off a performance in which he allowed just his second TD pass this season. So he needs to bounce back with a strong outing on the road.

STREAKS



• The Bears have won six consecutive games against Minnesota, which ranks as the longest streak by either team in the series since the Vikings reeled off six in a row from 1992-94. No team in the series has won more than six in a row since the Vikings captured eight straight from 1972-76.

Israel Idonije has generated a half sack in two of the last three games.

Jay Cutler has won five consecutive games against the Vikings, throwing for 13 TDs and five INTs while producing a passer rating of 100.9.

Matt Forte needs 37 yards from scrimmage to reach 1,000 for the fifth season in a row.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-6)


Coach: Leslie Frazier | Record: 12-22

Career head-to-head record vs. Smith: 0-4 | Career record vs. Bears: 0-4

Last week: Lost to Green Bay Packers 23-14.

Key stat: The Vikings own a 31-21 record when hosting the Bears and a combined record of 162-89 all time at home. Interestingly, Minnesota hasn’t won a home game against the Bears since 2009. The Vikings have never been shut out at the Metrodome and the last time they were shut out a home stadium (Met Stadium), they lost 13-0 to the Bears.

Offense rank: 22nd (335.5 ypg) | Defense rank: 13th (344.8 ypg).
Adrian Peterson
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is on pace for 1,928 yards this season.

Offensive leader: Running back Adrian Peterson has rushed for 100 yards or more in a franchise-record six consecutive outings and is the first player to accomplish that feat since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2010. Peterson has rushed for 671 yards in his last four games, which qualifies as the most in his career over a four-game span. Peterson needs 554 over the next four games to reach 2,000 yards.

Defensive leader: Defensive end Jared Allen set a single-season record for sacks (22) in 2011, finally accomplishing the feat by racking up a season-high 3.5 sacks against the Bears in the season finale at the Metrodome. Allen is the first Viking since John Randle (1997-2000) to lead the team in sacks four consecutive seasons. His 114 career sacks ranks No. 1 among all players since 2004 when Allen came into the NFL.

STREAKS



• The Minnesota Vikings have used the same starting group of offensive linemen in all 12 games this season. The unit has been key in Peterson rushing for the second-best season total of his career with four games left to play.

• Chris Ponder was 0 of 8 with an interception on throws of more than 10 yards down the field against the Bears the last time the teams met. But the quarterback has completed at least one such pass in every other game.

• The NFL’s third-leading rusher, Marshawn Lynch, has averaged 4.6 yards per carry or better in four of his last five games.

• CB Antoine Winfield has forced a fumble or picked off a pass in two consecutive games against the Bears.