Monday, December 20, 2010
Vikings look to put the chill on the Bears
A preview of Monday Night Football between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
The Bears travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings (ESPN, 8:30 ET) with snow in the forecast and Brett Favre upgraded to Questionable on the injury report. Because of the issues with the Metrodome, the game will be played outdoors at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.
The temperature at gametime is expected to be 19 degrees, well above the coldest NFL game on record. The Ice Bowl, which was the 1967 NFL Championship between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, was played at 13 degrees below zero with a wind chill of negative 48.
In all primetime games since 1991 (Monday Night Football as well as Sunday/Thursday night games), Minnesota is 1-5 in December regular-season games where the kickoff temperature was under 40 degrees.
Favre used to be the king of cold weather, but he hasn’t been as strong the last several seasons when the temperature drops.
His touchdown-to-interception ratio has plummeted along with his passer rating when the temperature is below 40 degrees. Favre has also struggled lately on Monday Night Football, going just 2-8 in his past 10 MNF starts dating to 2005.
If Favre can’t go again tonight, rookie Joe Webb would get his first career start against the Bears. Webb piled up more than 8,000 yards of total offense under center at UAB and was named Conference USA’s Offensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2009, but it’s a good bet he never played in front of the type of crowd or in the type of weather conditions expected Monday night in Minneapolis.
A nationally-televised game against a quality opponent might not be the ideal conditions for a quarterback making his first career start, but QBs stepping under center for the first time on Monday Night Football have fared better than you might think.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last four quarterbacks to make their first career start on Monday Night Football have all guided their team to a win, including Aaron Rodgers over these Vikings in Week 1 of 2008.
On the other sideline, Jay Cutler has won five of his past six starts after starting the season 3-3. Most of his struggles this season have come against an opposing package with five or more defensive backs on the field.
Look for the Vikings to be more effective against Cutler by limiting the use of its base 4-3 defense Monday night.
The good news for Cutler is that he may not have far to go. According to Elias, the average start for Chicago's drives this season has been its 32.7-yard line, the best in the NFL.