It’s Week 2 in the National Football League and tomorrow we’ll see a match up from the Black and Blue division once again.
Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings will ride into the windy city to take on Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. Last week Peterson took his first carry of the season for 78 yards to the house but was held to just 15 yards for the rest of the game. Detroit’s front line absolutely destroyed their running game and took down starting quarterback Christian Ponder down a couple times as well.
This Sunday’s match up could very well come down to whose running game gets off to a great start and remains consistent throughout the game. With Percy Harvin out, this offense for Minnesota looks like it has slowed down just a tad. Bringing in veteran Greg Jennings from the Green Bay Packers was a great choice, but letting go one of your quickest offensive weapons not only as a running back/receiver but as a return specialist could come back to haunt you.
Minnesota’s offensive front-line needs to be able to win their assignments and seal up second level when it’s time to block for Peterson. I expect Charles Tillman (who has two interceptions last week) to match up against the former Green Bay Packer receiver Jennings, which could be a guy Ponder will target if they aren’t able to get the run game going.
Peterson has had most of his success against this Chicago Bears defense. Although it may be one of the oldest defenses in the league, they still have a group of young guys that can still make big plays when needed. Last week the front-line of this Chicago Bears defense struggled to get to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton but finally got through late in the game.
Speaking of getting to the quarterback, last week Jay Cutler wasn’t sacked at all. Which surprises me because Cincinnati probably has the best defensive line rotation in the entire league. Cutler may have forced a couple throws, but he was only picked off once. The pass blocking was excellent, but the run blocking needs to improve. Chicago needs to open up the run game if they want to be able to pick up chunks of yardage through the air.
Just like Reggie Bush, Matt Forte is a running back who can catch just as well as he can carry the ball from scrimmage. So the linebacker core is going to make sure Forte isn’t able to pick up a delayed route in the middle of the field when they’re in zone coverage. I mean, look what Bush did to them last week.
So now that this little preview was laid out for everyone, what are the keys to the game?
1. Both teams need to get the run game started, both running backs have the ability to get to the second level and burn the defense.
2. Blocking up front for the quarterback. I’m sure Christian Ponder doesn’t want to be laying on his back half of the game. The young talent this Bears defense has on it’s line behind veteran Julius Peppers is ridiculous. You need to double team most of these guys on the line, a dangerous rotation for sure.
3. Continue to protect Jay Cutler. It’s been proven over the years that when Jay Cutler gets injured, this Chicago Bears team falls apart. He may not seem like a leader to anybody else who watches this sport, but he’s the only man who can keep up with the defense when it comes to putting up points. Awesome protection + Jay Cutlers arm = A kid at a candy store. And I’m aware Cutler’s diabetic.
4. Lock down Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall. Like I said before, Tillman should be lining up against Jennings on Sunday. Not sure who may be lining up against Marshall, but whoever it is will have their work cut out for them. Both of these guys are play makers and will be targeted if the running game isn’t working.
5. Devin Hester. He has a four career special team returns for touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings. Which is the most he’s had against any team he’s returned a kick against. So if he still has his ability to return kicks like he used too, he should take one to the house on Sunday.