Week two of the NFL season kicks off Thursday night with the Patriots visiting the Jets. Neither team will start the season 0-2, but the Vikings will if they lose to the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Here's a game preview courtesy of the Star Tribune.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: An 0-2 start for the Vikings would be a disaster, although not totally unexpected with back-to-back divisional road games to start the season. Christian Ponder might have even more on the line: His job. His three interception performance against the Lions was enough to nearly melt the hot seat Ponder's been sitting on for quite some time now. Another lousy start could force head coach Leslie Frazier to bring in backup QB Matt Cassell.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: With their backs against the wall, the Vikings beat the Bears at Mall-of-America Field, 21-14. Adrian Peterson had 100 yards in the first quarter and Ponder threw for 91 yards in the game. The Vikings have lost five straight at Soldier Field, with the last win in Chicago back in 2007.
Chicago has averaged 35.6 points in the five straight wins. They've won 11 of 12 overall against Minnesota in Chicago. Vikings.com has more on the domination.
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Bears cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman. The All-Pro defender had two interceptions in Chicago's come-from-behind win over the Bengals last week. Tillman missed Wednesday's practice but is expected to play. He led the league with 10 forced fumbles last season.
Tillman has been taking the ball away from the Vikings for a long time... remember when he did this to Randy Moss?
WHAT THE OTHER GUYS ARE SAYING:
“We’ve got to get more pressure with the four-man rush,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman told WCCO. Trestman is a St. Louis Park, Minnesota native. Chicago had 44 sacks last season, but they failed to sack Andy Dalton in week one.
On the other side of the Ball the Bears are hoping tackle Jermon Bushrod can slow down Jared Allen. Bushrod faced Allen four times as a member of the New Orleans Saints, and never allowed a sack.
Like we mentioned above, Adrian Peterson had more than 100 rushing yards in the first quarter against the Bears in week 14 last season. Chicago knows that Minnesota's road to the end zone is usually paved by the MVP.
BEST QUOTE OF THE WEEK SO FAR: Vikings defensive end Brian Robison telling the Pioneer Press that this is a must-win game
"You never want to go down the first two games of the season, 0-2 in your division," Robison said. "That makes it a hard, uphill battle the rest of the season regardless of who your opponents are, especially in the NFC North, where we feel we feel like we play some of the toughest football in the NFL. In my mind, we need to go there and get a win."
THE LATEST LINE, OUR PREDICTION: Chicago is a six point favorite. Considering the Bears have smoked the Vikings by an average of 20 points over the last three meetings at Soldier Field, we'll take the Monsters of the Midway, 31-17.