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The Chicago Bears were edged out by the Vikings for the final NFC playoff spot in 2012 but took a step towards putting that disappointment behind them last Sunday with a come-from-behind 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. As they battled in Chicago, the Minnesota Vikings stumbled in their first test of the 2013 season, losing 34-24 to the Detroit Lions.
The Bears rode Jay Cutler's right arm, 21 Completions in 33 Attempts, 242 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 1 Interception for a 93.2 Passer Rating along with three turnovers created by their Pro Bowl cornerback tandem of Charles "Peanut" Tillman and Tim Jennings to provide Marc Trestman with his first victory in his first game as an NFL head coach.
Adrian Peterson broke free on the Vikings' first play from scrimmage for a 78 yard touchdown run but the team couldn't overcome a dismal performance by Christian Ponder at quarterback. Ponder completed 18 Passes in 28 Attempts for 236 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 3 Interceptions and a 63.1 Passer Rating.
The Vikings have lost 11 times in their last 12 visits to Soldier Field so trying to pass off a Bears victory prediction as bold would be cheating but here are three predictions that would open fan's eyes if they took place on Sunday.
1. The Christian Ponder era as starting quarterback for the Vikings comes to a close.
In Week 6 of the 2011 NFL Season, Donovan McNabb started at quarterback for the Vikings against the Bears in Chicago. In the fourth quarter, with the Bears pounding the Vikings 36-10, Christian Ponder entered the game for the first time as the Vikings quarterback. McNabb stayed rooted to the bench the remainder of the year and retired from football after the season.
In Week 2 of 2013 the circle becomes complete. There were times in 2011 when Ponder played like the first round pick that he is, particularly in Week 17 when he threw for 3 Touchowns while leading the Vikings into the playoffs with a 37-34 win over the Packers.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, success's like that have been few for Ponder. A majority of his career he's been more closely compared in talent to fellow 2011 first round pick Blaine Gabbert. After last season's 10-6 record and playoff appearance Vikings fans aren't going to show the patience to wait for Ponder to improve if he continues to struggle in 2013.
One of the most popular players on an NFL team is the backup quarterback and Matt Cassel is the man of the hour in that position in Minnesota. If the Bears' defense tee's off on Ponder early, Cassel will be the man for the rest of the season for the Vikings.
2. The Bears' offensive line follows up their Week 1 performance by keeping Cutler's uniform clean a second straight week.
Not impressed? As bold as predicting the New England Patriots to make the playoffs? How about this prediction being on a par with one saying Geno Smith will be the quarterback of the next great New York Jets dynasty (that the Jets have yet to have their first great dynasty isn't important).
The last time a Bears' quarterback went two consecutive games without being sacked was in 2005, Kyle Orton during his rookie season. Whether measured in years or Bears starting quarterbacks, that is quite a while ago.
As well as the Bears revamped offensive line protected Cutler in Week 1, they're sure to improve during the season as they continue playing as a unit. In November and December this achievement could become more commonplace than bold.
3. Adrian Peterson is held below 100 yards rushing for the second straight week.
On the Vikings' first play from scrimmage last week Peterson made it look like his prediction of rushing for 2,500 yards in 2013 was no idol boast. Even though he did rush for a second touchdown against the Lions, he was only able to net 15 yards in the remainder of his 17 carries.
In 2012 he was held under 100 Rushing Yards a game for the first three weeks of the season. For Peterson, that pattern continues in 2013. The Bears' defense surrendered only 63 Rushing Yards in 21 Carries to the Bengals and they'll being keying on Peterson this Sunday.
As the result of these three events taking place, Nostr-Thomas finishes by predicting a 31-16 victory for the Bears over the Vikings in Week 2 at Soldier Field.