I can't imagine being more excited about this game than I already am. A division matchup, at home, against a team sharing our record, and the winner is in sole possession of 1st place in the NFC North. Kevin Williams and Pat Williams will in all likelihood be playing. There's no reason not to be pumped up about this game. I'm getting more and more excited as the game approaches, and I'm getting confident that the Vikings will win. Four reasons:
1. The Vikings and Bears often split their home-and-home series. The Bears beat the Vikings in the Metrodome in 2001 (when they were 13-3) and 2006 (when they were 13-3), and this Bear team isn't as good as those Bear teams (and this Viking team isn't as bad as those Viking teams). It may be a close game, but the Vikes usually beat the Bears at home.
2. The Viking pass rush has been great at home. In the game at Soldier Field, Kyle Orton had a lot of time to throw. But in games at the Dome, the Viking pass rush has been dominant: sacking the QB, hitting the QB, forcing bad throws, forcing turnovers.
3. The Bear defense is vulnerable: see point three of Adam Duerson's look at the game, and this Access Vikings post.
4. The Bears' win at Soldier Field included some fluky, unlikely to be repeated plays: The Bears scored a touchdown when Chris Kluwe bumbled a punt snap, and another touchdown when the ball hit punt returner Charles Gordon as he was trying to get out of the way.
But if you've followed the Vikings for years, there is one big reason to think the Vikes will lose this game (besides general distrust of Childress and Frerotte): you've followed the Vikings for years. Certainly the Vikes are capable of blowing a game like this. But I don't think they will.
Against MVP candidacies
I've been following the MVP race this season because it is such an open race. I find that intriguing. Today I'll argue against two possible MVP candidates.
Kurt Warner: The Cardinals' record outside of the terrible NFC West: 3-5. In his four games against NFC West opponents, Warner has one interception; against the other eight opponents, he's got 10 interceptions. Warner is heavily benefitting from a terrible division; throwing three interceptions in a blowout loss to the Eagles in November highlights this. Drew Brees is playing better than Warner this season, but Brees plays in a very tough division.
Brett Favre: The '08 Jets are 8-3, and the '07 Jets were 4-12. But there is good reason to think the Jets would have improved without Favre. First, the '07 Jets underperformed their estimated wins (just a bit: the estimated wins were 5.4).
Second, the Jets have been fluctuating year to year since 2002:
Their improvement this year just matches their year-to-year fluctuation.
Finally, and most importantly, the Jets added a lot of very good players via free agency this offseason, including Alan Faneca and Kris Jenkins (they also have quite a few young players that have been improving and providing significant contributions).
Favre has been good, but one must factor in other factors in the Jets' improvement, as well as Favre's league-leading 13 interceptions (some of his heaves have been dreadful). He's an MVP candidate, but the Jets' turnaround cannot be the strongest argument to make him MVP.