1:00 PM ET, December 1, 2013
Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN
It's the other side of the ball that's presenting a much larger set of issues.
Cutler suffered a groin tear in a 45-41 loss at Washington on Oct. 20, then attempted to return three weeks later before leaving with a high left ankle sprain in a 21-19 defeat to Detroit on Nov. 10.
McCown, who had not thrown a pass in the league since his first stint with Chicago during the 2011 season, has been more than serviceable in five games and three starts, completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 1,106 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception while posting a 100.8 rating.
The 34-year-old veteran will get his third straight start Sunday, though coach Marc Trestman is hopeful Cutler can return when the Bears host Dallas on Dec. 9.
"I'm confident. I think Jay is confident. You have to leave yourself an opening, but there is no underlying information here," Trestman said. "It's week to week with the understanding that at some point in time he'll be back."
The defense is trying to remain confident as well despite allowing a league-worst 145.2 yards per game on the ground. The Bears (6-5), who have allowed at least 40 points on three occasions for the first time since 1964, gave up 258 rushing yards in last week's 42-21 loss at St. Louis.
It marked the most they've given up since Peterson ran for 224 of Minnesota's 311 yards as a rookie in the Vikings' 34-31 victory Oct. 14, 2007.
"We're going to continue to work at it," Trestman said. "There are a lot of teams working in the same environment in the league. We're not going to give up on it. We're going to continue to press the issue. We're going to work harder on it this week and try to get better. We certainly have to. We know what we're up against this week."
Chicago's 14 rushing touchdowns allowed are the second-most in the league.
"We're never going to say we can't get the problem fixed, because it is fixable," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We're going to simplify it even more than it has been and we're going to keep continuing to work on it until it is fixed."
Peterson ranks first in the NFL with 10 rushing touchdowns and second with 997 yards. He's averaged 120.6 yards in his last three against the Bears, including 100 on 26 carries in Chicago's 31-30 victory Sept. 15.
He ran for a season-best 146 yards while adding a touchdown in last week's 26-26 tie against Green Bay. Peterson may be in for another big performance with Chicago missing linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive back Charles Tillman.
"When you get hit with injuries, it tends to have an effect depending on the depth of your team," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "They're going through what a lot of teams go through."
The Vikings (2-8-1) rushed for a season-best 232 yards last week, though they've struggled in plenty of other areas. They're giving up a league-worst 31.5 points per game and have forced only 14 turnovers.
Peterson took no consolation in last week's tie.
"It definitely wasn't celebration," Peterson said. "It is what it is."
Christian Ponder had one of his better performances of the season, though, finishing 21 of 30 for 233 yards and a touchdown. Frazier said Ponder, who threw for 227 yards with a TD and one interception in the first meeting with the Bears, will be back under center Sunday.
"The consistent play is what we're always looking for," Frazier said. "He had a good game, (now) put together another good game. There's no second-guessing about playing him. He earned it the way he played."
Minnesota will be getting its first look at McCown this season after Cutler hit tight end Martellus Bennett with a 16-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining to give the Bears the win in the first matchup.
Marshall caught a season-high 10 passes for 117 yards and his ninth touchdown last week, going over 100 yards for the third time in four games.
Frazier said linebacker Erin Henderson will play Sunday despite his Nov. 19 arrest for drunken driving. He will not start against the Bears, who have won seven of eight against Minnesota.
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|Avg Points Allowed||27.7||30.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||CHI|
|Rush Yds Allowed||CHI|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Chicago leads 16-10|
|Sep 15, 2013||CHI 31, MIN 30|
|Dec 9, 2012||CHI 14, @MIN 21|
|Nov 25, 2012||CHI 28, MIN 10|
|Jan 1, 2012||CHI 17, @MIN 13|
|Oct 16, 2011||CHI 39, MIN 10|
|Dec 20, 2010||CHI 40, @MIN 14|
|Nov 14, 2010||CHI 27, MIN 13|
|Dec 28, 2009||CHI 36, MIN 30|
|Nov 29, 2009||CHI 10, @MIN 36|
|Nov 30, 2008||CHI 14, @MIN 34|
|Oct 19, 2008||CHI 48, MIN 41|
|Dec 17, 2007||CHI 13, @MIN 20|
|Oct 14, 2007||CHI 31, MIN 34|
|Dec 3, 2006||CHI 23, MIN 13|
|Sep 24, 2006||CHI 19, @MIN 16|
|Jan 1, 2006||CHI 10, @MIN 34|
|Oct 16, 2005||CHI 28, MIN 3|
|Dec 5, 2004||CHI 24, MIN 14|
|Sep 26, 2004||CHI 22, @MIN 27|
|Dec 14, 2003||CHI 13, MIN 10|
|Sep 14, 2003||CHI 13, @MIN 24|
|Oct 27, 2002||CHI 7, @MIN 25|
|Sep 8, 2002||CHI 27, MIN 23|
|Nov 25, 2001||CHI 13, @MIN 6|
|Sep 23, 2001||CHI 17, MIN 10|
Adrian Peterson now has five games with at least 200 rushing yards, trailing only O.J. Simpson who had six such games in his Hall of Fame career.[+]
Jay Cutler has not been good in his career against the Packers. He has lost 7 of his 8 starts against Green Bay. He hasn't lost more than 4 games against any other team. The 16 interceptions against the Packers are also his most against any opponent. In the last 5 seasons, nobody has a worse QBR against the Packers among players with at least 2 starts against them.[+]
PACK ATTACK - JAY CUTLER CAREER
Alshon Jeffrey and Josh Gordon each have multiple games with 200 receiving yards and a receiving TD this season. Only four players had accomplished the feat prior to this year.[+]
Matt Cassel was 11-of-17 for 148 yards and a touchdown when facing at least five pass rushers Sunday. Cassel has been the one Vikings quarterback capable of handling an added pass rush this season.[+]
Alshon Jeffery finished with 249 receiving yards in the Bears' game at Minnesota today, breaking his own club record set earlier this season against New Orleans.[+]
Adrian Peterson faced at least 8 defenders in the box on 24-of-35 rushes Sunday. Peterson actually averaged more yards against at least eight defenders in the box (6.1) than against seven or fewer (5.8). Peterson rushed for more yards (147) against at least eight defenders than he had total rushing yards in any game this season.
Alshon Jeffery caught 12-of-15 targets Sunday for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Josh McCown has completed 68.0% of his attempts to Jeffery this season, and Jay Cutler has completed 54.5% of his attempts to Jeffery.[+]
Josh McCown by Target Sunday
ESPN Stats & Information