NFC North Match
Chicago, IL - The Chicago Bears have struggled to close out games this season.
They may want to watch tapes of the Minnesota Vikings' last two contests as they try to start doing so.
The Bears look to bounce back from yet another heartbreaking loss as they host the NFC North rival Vikings, who have won two in a row with last-minute dramatics.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Chicago -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Chicago (3-3) suffered another painful defeat last week, 22-20 at Atlanta. The Bears went ahead 20-19 when Kyle Orton directed an 11-play, 77-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Rashied Davis with 11 seconds left. Chicago, though, chose to squib quick on the ensuing kickoff, which was returned to the Falcons' 44-yard line. After Matt Ryan completed a 26-yard pass with one second remaining, Jason Elam made a 48-yard field goal as time expired.
All three of Chicago's losses have come by three points or fewer after blowing late leads. The Bears let a 14-point, second-half advantage slip away in a 20-17 defeat to Carolina on Sept. 14, then couldn't hold a 10-point lead with 6:38 to go versus Tampa Bay the following week and fell 27-24 in overtime.
"You have to play a full game,'' said Orton, who went 26-of-43 for 286 yards Sunday. "We didn't."
The defeat prevented the Bears from winning their third straight and dropped them into a three-way tie for first place in the division with Green Bay and Minnesota. Now, coach Lovie Smith's team once again needs to find a way to rebound from a stunning loss.
"When you fight that hard to get back in the football game and then come up a little bit short, it's always tough," Smith told the team's official Web site. "We've had opportunities to win the three games that we've lost, but I think your record is what you are. We're a 3-3 team right in the mix. We're a 3-3 team that's on top of our division with important games coming up."
Before their bye next week, the Bears face a Vikings team that's won three of four to move into the tie atop the NFC North. Oddly, though, fans haven't been thrilled as the Vikings offense has struggled, and some are even calling for coach Brad Childress to lose his job.
Minnesota (3-3) hasn't scored more than two offensive touchdowns in a game this season, and the team is averaging 18.8 points - 24th in the NFL.
Last week, the Vikings heard chants of "Fire Childress!" at the Metrodome throughout the second half of their 12-10 win over Detroit.
"It's just a weird dynamic right now,'' linebacker Ben Leber said. ``I understand the fans are frustrated, but we're getting wins. They may not be as pretty as some of them were in the past, but we're getting wins.''
And doing it in dramatic fashion. Ryan Longwell kicked a 26-yard field goal with nine seconds left to beat Detroit, one week after hitting from 30 yards away with 13 seconds remaining in a 30-27 win over New Orleans.
The Vikings have been in position to win the last two weeks thanks in part to veteran quarterback Gus Frerotte, who took over for Tavaris Jackson after Minnesota opened 0-2. Frerotte went 18-of-33 for 296 yards against Detroit, including an 86-yard TD to former Bear Bernard Berrian.
Against the Saints, Frerotte was 19-of-36 for 222 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Most importantly, he directed late drives in both games that resulted in the winning Longwell field goals.
Berrian has been Frerotte's favorite target, catching five passes for 131 yards last week and six for 110 in the previous game. Berrian, who played for Bears from 2004-07, leads the Vikings with 436 receiving yards.
Another former Bear, Bobby Wade, is also part of a Minnesota receiving corps that could have a big day against a depleted Chicago pass defense, which ranks 27th in the NFL with 236.3 yards allowed per game. Ryan, a rookie, burned the Bears for 301 yards passing last week.
Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman left Sunday's game in the second quarter with a left shoulder injury and was wearing a sling earlier this week, although Smith said he could suit up against the Vikings. Starting corner Nathan Vasher missed his second straight game last week with a right wrist injury, while backup corner Trumaine McBride (injured left shoulder) and safety Danieal Manning (hamstring pull) got hurt against Atlanta.
The Bears defense could also have problems stopping the running game this week. Minnesota's Adrian Peterson fumbled twice against the Lions, but he ranks third in the league with 563 rushing yards and rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 win at Soldier Field last Oct. 14 - the second-year back's fifth pro game.
"This is definitely a game where we're going to gear up to stop Adrian," said Chicago safety Mike Brown, who's part of a Bears rush defense that's fifth in the league at 74.3 yards per game.
Chicago rookie Matt Forte ranks fifth in the NFL with 459 rushing yards, but he'll be going against the Vikings' fourth-ranked run defense (73.7 ypg). Last week against Atlanta, Forte ran 20 times for 76 yards and a touchdown, and caught five passes for 34 yards.
Orton continued his strong play last week, and has completed 122 of 198 passes for 1,386 yards and eight TDs this season. He's led Chicago to 24.7 points per game.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
CHICAGO is 19-14 against the spread versus MINNESOTA since 1992
MINNESOTA is 20-13 straight up against CHICAGO since 1992
17 of 32 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
CHICAGO is 2-2 against the spread versus MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
CHICAGO is 2-2 straight up against MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at CHICAGO since 1992
CHICAGO is 8-8 against the spread versus MINNESOTA since 1992
MINNESOTA is 9-7 straight up against CHICAGO since 1992
9 of 16 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons.
CHICAGO is 1-1 against the spread versus MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
CHICAGO is 1-1 straight up against MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[DE] Jayme Mitchell IR - Knee - 08/09/08
[S] Madieu Williams missed last game %27?%27 - Neck - 10/06/08
[DT] Kenderick Allen IR - Wrist - 08/19/08
[WR] Sidney Rice missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/06/08
[LB] Heath Farwell IR - Knee - 08/11/08
[FB] Thomas Tapeh missed last game %27?%27 - Undisclosed - 10/06/08
[DE] Kenechi Udeze expected to miss entire season - Illness - 08/16/08
[LB] E.J. Henderson IR - Foot - 10/04/08
[LB] Erin Henderson injured last game, doubtful - Concussion - 10/09/08
[LB] Nick Roach injured last game, "?". - Shoulder - 10/05/08
[DT] Tommie Harris is probable. - Knee - 10/05/08
[CB] Nathan Vasher missed last game, "?" - Thumb - 10/05/08
[WR] Brandon Lloyd missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/05/08
[DT] Anthony Adams is "?". - Ankle - 10/09/08
[OT] Chris Williams missed last game, "?" - Back - 10/02/08
[CB] Brandon McGowan IR - Ankle - 09/17/08
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Posted: 10/15/08 7:15 PM