I hate to admit it, but the Bears cannot consider themselves legitimate Super Bowl contenders until they prove they can beat a good team. Or at least not get annihilated by one, like they did against San Francisco on Monday night.
Hey, can we fire Jerry Angelo again?
While a win over the Minnesota Vikings won't change many minds about this team, it is absolutely necessary.
If the Bears lose and Green Bay beats the Giants, Chicago will find themselves sitting in third place in the division. Three consecutive losses could then snowball into a repeat of last season when the Bears started out at 7-3 and we all know what followed next.
Look, a victory over the Vikings won't necessarily cure what ails the Bears, but it will keep them in contention and atop the NFC North standings. Despite the awful Monday night performance, this is a Bears team that can still win 11 games and make the playoffs.
Having said that, do even the most optimistic of Bears fans think this team will beat another playoff team? Well, right now it certainly does not appear to be very likely.
The combined record of the teams the Bears have beaten this season is 25-44, while they are 0-3 against the so-called "elite" teams in the NFL. Yes, they beat the Colts and currently have a winning record, but it was Andrew Luck's first ever start and I seriously wonder if they could beat them today.
Hey, we all saw this train wreck coming. I mean, very few of us expected a blowout in San Francisco, but it was long apparent that the offense would be needed one game and this was it.
The defense simply couldn't continue doing the incredible things it was doing, that is simply unsustainable. And sure enough, on a night when the defense didn't get the takeaways and wasn't playing well, the offense couldn't step up to the table.
Now, it is true that the Bears were without Jay Cutler, who was concussed at home watching the game on his couch. Jason Campbell did nothing to start a QB controversy in Chicago, although I do not think they would have won even with Cutler given the way the offensive line played.
The 49ers, like the Packers before them, exposed the fact that if you take away Brandon Marshall from the offense, there really is no offense to speak of. Still, it was talent more than scheme that beat Chicago on Monday night, and this Vikings team, although much improved, is not as talented as the Niners.
The Bears will be at home, so I do expect a win on Sunday. But given the way this team has been playing, especially on offense, I wouldn't bet the rent on it.
Still, while Christian Ponder is getting better all the time, as the Beatles would say, he is no Colin Kaepernick. At least, few can play as well as that kid did against the Bears.
What to do about that O-Line?
Hopefully, Cutler's headaches won't return because of an offensive line that can't block anyone. Gabe Carimi needs to be removed from the lineup and hopefully Jonathan Scott is ready to play. I don't know if he is hurt or just bad, but Carimi was getting bull-rushed on Monday and knocked on his keyster far too often.
He was physically beaten, out-muscled and out-manned by his opposition. The same can be said for J'Marcus Webb for much of the night. This had nothing to do with technique, this was simply men against boys.
Of course, even if Carimi sits, there is always the question of what to do about Webb. The sad truth is there is nothing they can do to improve the line during the season, so they will just have to max protect as much as possible and hope for the best.
Each tackle gave up three sacks with Webb adding five hurries to his miserable evening.
Will he or won't he?
There is no guarantee that Cutler will be cleared to face the Vikings. On his ESPN 1000 weekly radio show, Cutler implied that it wasn't medical tests that prevented him from playing against the 49ers, but rather it was a group decision that he wouldn't play.
And on that same show Cutler also said "We're going through the process. Met with them Monday morning, the doctor. Got a few more hoops to jump through, so we'll see how it goes this week."
Nobody can claim to truly know how well Campbell could have played on Monday, since he had practically no protection from his line, but it did seem he was slow to react, didn't move up in the pocket and held the ball too long.
Still, we're supposedly in better position than a year ago when Caleb Hanie was the backup. But I'd like to see what Campbell can do with adequate protection before I make that determination.
What about the defense?
The Bears' defensive line had its share of problems against San Francisco, but Minnesota's offensive line isn't nearly as stout as that one.
Henry Melton was injured in Monday's game, so keep an eye on him. Also, Shea McClellin is still suffering effects from a concussion, so expect Corey Wootten to get a lot of snaps once again.
The key, as always with the Bears, will be turnover differential. But expecting the Bears to get another pick-six this season is not realistic. From now on out, the Bears may have used up all of their luck for the season.
No Alshon Jeffrey
Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune is quoting "multiple sources" that claim Jeffrey will undergo a knee scope and will be out for an undetermined amount of time.
He has already missed four games due to a broken hand and now this—the kid just can't catch a break.
Or a pass.
- Minnesota LB Chad Greenway is second in the league in tackles, with 100. In contrast, the Bears' leading tackler is Lance Briggs with 58.
- Adrian Peterson still leads the league in rushing yardage with 1,128 yards. He is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. 2008 was the last season in which Peterson was effective against the Bears, however.
- The Vikings actually defeated the 49ers back in Week 3, 24-13.
- Lately, every other game has been a clunker for Ponder. He has sandwiched QB ratings of 114.2 (vs Detroit) and 74.8 (vs. Tampa Bay) with ratings in the 30s against Seattle and Arizona. The Bears hope that trend continues.
- The Vikings finished 3-13 in 2011. They enter Sunday with a 6-4 record.