THE STORY: The Chicago Bears can uncheck one of their primary goals this season. With the only two undefeated teams in the NFL sitting in their division, the Bears can pretty much abandon their hopes of repeating as NFC North champs. And with their margin of error for making the playoffs starting to shrink, Chicago will be looking to get back to the .500 mark when division bottom feeder Minnesota and Donovan McNabb pay a visit to Soldier Field on Sunday night. Chicago has won three straight over the Vikings, including a 40-14 beating in Minnesota last December.
TV: NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET. LINE: Bears -3, O/U 41.5
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (1-4): Minnesota finally got in the win column last week, getting 122 yards and three touchdowns from running back Adrian Peterson in a 34-10 drubbing of Arizona. After blowing double-digit halftime leads in their first three losses, the Vikings didn’t leave anything to chance by bolting to a 28-0 first-quarter lead. Despite the rout, McNabb continued to struggled, throwing for only 169 yards on 10-of-21 passing. Peterson has rushed for 11 touchdowns and 784 yards in seven games against the Bears, but was limited to 51 yards last season. WR Percy Harvin sat out practice Thursday due to sore ribs.
ABOUT THE BEARS (2-3): Chicago was torched by a pair of big play in last week’s loss at Detroit, surrendering a 73-yard scoring pass and 88-yard TD run – the second-longest ever against the Bears. That might lead to the benching of safeties Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweather in favor of Major Harris and Chris Conte. Chicago’s offensive line, which committed nine false-start penalties last week, could be dancing again with NFL sack leaderJared Allen (8.5) bearing down on QB Jay Cutler. Cutler has shredded the Vikings for 10 TDs in his last three matchups. RB Matt Forte has back-to-back 100-yard games and leads the league with 785 yards from scrimmage.
1. Last week, Peterson became only the fifth player since 1970 to rush for three touchdowns in the first quarter.
2. Cutler has been sacked 18 times and is on pace to surpass last season’s NFL-high 52.
3. McNabb is 5-1 in six games at Soldier Field, but he is averaging only 169.8 passing yards per game, second-lowest in the league to Jacksonville rookie Blaine Gabbert.
PREDICTION: Bears 23, Vikings 17. Cutler continues his success against the Vikings and Robbie Gould’s leg is the difference.