An upset victory over the 11-3 Vikings on national TV Monday night would salvage some respect for a 5-9 Bears team and help avenge one of the more embarrassing losses in a season full of them. It might even save a few jobs.
"Defensively, we obviously had a pretty poor showing last time we played them," middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "They had a lot of yards and pretty much moved the ball at will."
The Vikings' domination was nearly complete in the 36-10 blowout on Nov. 29. They had one-sided advantages in total yards, 537-169; time of possession, 40:55-19:05; first downs, 31-8; and offensive plays, 83-38.
It got worse as the game progressed. In the second half, the Bears were outgained 225-2. That's not the kind of humiliation the Bears want to revisit with everyone watching.
"It's Monday night. It's a national audience," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "Obviously we're not in the position we would have liked to be when we looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year. 5-9 is not where we want to be."
It takes some looking, but there are signs that point to a better showing for the Bears this time around. All three of the Vikings' losses have come on the road, where they have a 4-3 record, including just 2-2 in games played outdoors.
"I definitely think it'll be a little bit of a different story just because it's on our turf, and they have to come outside of the dome and their surface and everything that that brings to their offense," Hillenmeyer said. "But they're still a physical team. I imagine we'll probably see as much or more of [Adrian Peterson] than we did last time."
Last time the Bears focused on containing Peterson, and they limited him to 85 yards on 25 carries. But Brett Favre destroyed them, completing 32 of 48 passes for 392 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 112.5.
That was Favre's fourth straight game with a passer rating over 110, but he's had three straight mediocre outings since then, with passer ratings in the 70s and a total of three touchdowns and four interceptions.
And it's hard to forget Favre's last winter outing in Soldier Field, a 35-7 Bears victory over the Packers on Dec. 23, 2007. He was horrid, completing 17 of 32 passes for 153 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 40.2 passer rating, while looking like an old man who couldn't wait to get the game over and get out of the cold.
LB Hunter Hillenmeyer
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh
He hasn't had a game that poor since.
"The last time was as convincingly as we've ever beaten [him], so that would be great to repeat that," Hillenmeyer said. "Hopefully we can get him moving his feet a little bit, early. As great as he's been all year, and he's continued to play at a really high level, he hasn't been as good lately, so hopefully we'll see that."
The Vikings have lost two of three games since defeating the Bears, falling 30-17 in Arizona to the Cardinals and beating the Bengals 30-10 at home leading up to the Panthers loss.
"They handled us handily the first time out," coach Lovie Smith said. "I know things haven't been going as smooth as they were earlier for them. It's an opportunity for us. Getting a win right now would be big for us."
NOTES AND QUOTES
With left end Adewale Ogunleye finished for the season after suffering a fractured left fibula against the Ravens, Mark Anderson has two more games to prove his worth before he starts looking for a new contract.
Anderson is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but if there is no collective bargaining agreement, he will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Bears will have a chance to match any offer he receives, if they desire. But Anderson hasn't done much lately to create a market for his services. He had 12 sacks as a rookie in 2006, five in '07 but only 2.5 since the start of the 2008 season.
"These last couple of games, I want to finish strong, go out there and make some plays for the team and just try to have fun," Anderson said. "I would love to finish strong on a great note."
Anderson is splitting first-team reps this week with Israel Idonije and, whether he starts or not, he'll see an increase in playing time.
"It's a great opportunity," he said, "but right now the main thing is we want to get a win. We've been struggling and, if we can get the last two wins of the season, that would be great for us, leave on a positive note." ...
Offensive left tackle Chris Williams has the unenviable task this week of facing Vikings pass-rush terror Jared Allen for the first time.
Allen is second in the NFL with 13.5 sacks, and he's been especially destructive against the Bears, with at least two sacks in each of the previous three meetings, for a total of 6.5. Last year he abused John St. Clair and, in the first meeting this year, he handled Orlando Pace and then Kevin Shaffer, after Pace suffered the groin injury that has kept him sidelined since then.
"It should be a tough matchup for Chris all day long over there," said Cutler, whose blind side Williams will be protecting. "But that's his job. That's what he's got to do. Obviously, we've got to help him and put some guys on him and get some chip [blocks]. That's what you have to do against a defensive end of his caliber."
The Bears didn't do that last time, and Allen spent too much time in their backfield. Williams missed Wednesday's practice with a minor ankle injury but is expected back today. ...
General manager Jerry Angelo was asked if the Bears needed to be competitive down the stretch.
"Very much so," Angelo said. "We need to get a win. That's very important right now, and I feel like we've been competitive. We just haven't been able to win, and that's the bottom line in our business as we all know."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"Brett is a competitor, and he's a really good player. If Brett wants to check out of a run, Brett's probably going to check out of a run." – QB Jay Cutler on Vikings QB Brett Favre's sideline dispute with coach Brad Childress.
Agree? Disagree? Let your voice be heard on our message board RIGHT HERE
Bear Report: The only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears.