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The Vikings, having already ceded the NFC

 
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zhangzk



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:51 am    Post subject: The Vikings, having already ceded the NFC Reply with quote

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — For the fourth time in the past five years http://www.thebearslockerroom.com/authentic-taylor-gabriel-jersey , the Chicago Bears will visit the Minnesota Vikings in the last game on the schedule.For once, this matchup has some meaning. North title to the Bears, have yet to secure a spot in the playoffs. The Bears could still improve their seed and snag that coveted first-round bye, if they win and the Los Angeles Rams also lose at home to San Francisco.If not, the Vikings (8-6-1) would be the likeliest opponent for the Bears (11-4) in the wild-card round next week.“We understand what’s at stake. There’s no magic formula. There’s no button you can push or hours you can put in to suddenly snap your fingers and guarantee a win,” Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “You do all you can, give everything you have.”Last season, though the Vikings needed the victory to secure the second seed in the NFC and the first-round bye , they had clinched the division two weeks earlier while the Bears were bound for last place in the division.The year before that, the biggest drama was the pair of repelling oil pipeline protesters who sneaked past security to climb up a truss connected to the roof and unfurl a large banner as they lowered themselves from the ceiling. Both the Bears and Vikings had already been eliminated from contention.In 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings wrapped up their first of two years outside during the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium with a win over the Bears that determined they’d finish third in the NFC North and not fourth.The two teams did this play-out-the-string thing twice in recent memory at the Metrodome, too. Both teams were eliminated before the 2011 finale, too, when the Bears stopped a five-game losing streak to finish at .500. In 2005, with the Bears resting most of their starters with the division already clinched, a victory by the Vikings wasn’t enough to keep coach Mike Tice from being fired after the game .Well, finally, these rivals have entered their 2018 season closer in the right positions for a tension-filled game on Sunday.“We’re going in there really focused,” Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky said. “We know we’re going against a really good team.”Here are some other key angles to follow:SCOREBOARD WATCHINGThe NFL arranged the schedule to minimize the anticlimactic outcomes, moving the Bears-Vikings game to the late-afternoon slot so it would be played simultaneously with Eagles-Redskins, Cardinals-Seahawks and 49ers-Rams.The Vikings are guaranteed the last wild-card spot if Philadelphia loses at Washington. They would get the No. 5 seed and a first-round game at Dallas with a win and a loss by Seattle at home to Arizona. Their long-shot scenario is starting the postseason in Los Angeles, if they lose to the Bears and the Rams and Eagles lose, too.“All the hypotheticals or where we would be at or what we are going to be based on the results of this weekend, I know that we’re playing this game to win,” Trubisky said.“We’re going out there with our starters, and we’re competing. For me, it’s an easy mindset. Coach says, ‘Go,’ and we’re going.”NO PAYBACKThe Bears said they’re not seeking payback for Vikings safety Harrison Smith, whose hit on a sliding Trubisky late in the game in Chicago on Nov. 18 drove the second-year quarterback’s throwing shoulder into the ground and wound up sidelining him for the following two games.“I really put it behind me,” Trubisky said. “I didn’t even consider it illegal or anything malicious of that nature.”Last week, 49ers safety Marcell Harris delivered a late hit on a sliding Trubisky, setting off a skirmish that resulted in the ejection of three players.“We’re not about being revengeful or getting back to anybody,” coach Matt Nagy said. “Nothing. None of that.”MACK ATTACKBears linebacker Khalil Mack, who was picked for his fourth Pro Bowl Womens Trey Burton Jersey , reached double-digit sacks for the fourth straight year. He has 12½ sacks, with 4½ in the past four games. He’s tied for the NFL lead with six forced fumbles for the Bears, who have 36 takeaways for the most in the league.BETTER PROTECTIONMack and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks helped make the previous matchup, a 25-20 victory by the Bears, miserable for Minnesota’s offensive line. Cousins took only two sacks, but each of them lost 8 yards .Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray combined for only 18 rushing yards on 13 attempts. The Vikings have blocked better in the past two games, and the improvement down the stretch by rookie right tackle Brian O’Neill has been particularly visible.“We knew at some point it was going to happen,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s just such a good athlete.”NO PLACE LIKE HOMEThe Vikings are 18-6 in the regular season and postseason at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Bears haven’t won in Minnesota since that final game on the 2011 schedule.“Our team feeds off the crowd and what they bring,” Cousins said. “It’s just a great place to play an NFL football game, and I can’t say enough good things about the venue, the locker room, the facility and the way our fans spur us on.” A great edge rusher is reportedly hard to find. The NFC North has a few of them, however. How does the total division stack up?" From The Desk Of...Roster AnalysisNFC North Roster Comparison: Edge RushersNew,57commentsA great edge rusher is reportedly hard to find. The NFC North has a few of them, however. How does the total division stack up?CDTThis series is looking at the rosters in the NFC North, trying to measure the state of the division. After looking at the offense, it is now time to consider the defense. The 2018 Bears finished in the top category in almost every defensive measure in the league, so they obviously did well within the division, too. Still, football is a team sport. It is possible for a team to dominate as a group while still being limited in individual positions. Turning to defense allows me to explore my very favorite stat in football, the defeat. Football Outsiders defines a defeat as: “A tackle that results in a loss of yardage, including sacks; any play that results in a turnover, including tipped passes which are then intercepted; or any tackle or tipped pass that leads to a stop on third or fourth down.” For obvious reasons, interior defenders, linemen and linebackers alike, tend to dominate this category. Edge rushers, however, do very well. Just like I started with quarterbacks on offense, I am starting with edge rushers on defense. Interior linemen and corners and all the rest can be important to a defense, but edge rushers define modern defenses, and they command premium contracts. They are overdrafted based on talent. As Jon Gruden has recently said: “it’s hard to find a great one.”1). MinnesotaThis was a difficult conclusion to come to, but it all comes down to honestly assessing the total rotation. Danielle Hunter, with 27 defeats overall (18 passing defeats and 9 rushing defeats) was tenth in the entire league, last year--and he was fifth among edge rushers. The only other edge rusher in the division to rank last year plays for Chicago, and he missed a few games (Khalil Mack had 22 defeats Cody Parkey Jersey , 17 in the passing game). There is no doubt in my mind that last year Hunter was the second-best edge rusher in the division, and the distance between him and #3 was pretty big. Hunter also plays alongside Everson Griffen. I want to take a moment and just point out that regardless of the fact that he plays for a rival team, Griffen is a human being who deserves compassion, and I hope the man is healthier this season on all fronts. If Griffen returns to form, the three-time Pro Bowler could enhance an already dangerous defense. In his absence, however, Stephen Weatherly proved that he was no slouch. After that, there is a steep drop. Tashawn Bower and Stacy Keely, for example, will make for interesting training camp stories and could put something together, but it’s the top three who make this group dangerous, combing for 23 sacks, and 40 quarterback hits.2). ChicagoThis group is probably more ‘1A’ than 2, but it is still not quite as dangerous--overall, at least--as Minnesota’s group. The Bears have Khalil Mack, who has been a 1st-Team All-Pro three separate years (and four times overall). Last year was actually a down year for him in most categories, except for his 6 forced fumbles. That number is just absurd. The man is a force of nature, and he is basically the reason the Bears even challenged Minnesota for the top spot in this comparison.Mack is backed up by Leonard Floyd and Aaron Lynch. Floyd is a divisive player, mostly because he plays much more like a utility player than a pure pass-rusher, but he is good in that role. He had 4 passes defended, an interception, and 11 quarterback hits in 2018. He had as many combined tackles as Mack (47), and he was third on the team with 9 tackles for a loss. That’s perfectly fine production for a #2 outside linebacker. Unfortunately the falloff to #3 in the Chicago OLB rotation is pretty steep. Aaron Lynch managed 3 sacks and 8 total quarterback hits last season, and that’s basically his best performance in three years. Pick a major category (sacks, tackles for a loss, quarterback hits) and the Bears’ trio trails the Vikings’ primary rotation by just a bit.Nor can Chicago make up the difference by having a deeper overall rotation. Isaiah Irving is not going to intimidate offensive coordinators anytime soon, and Kylie Fitts needs to do something, anything, before I consider him a meaningful contribution to this group. Still, this is a talented group overall, and Pagano has plenty to work with when it comes to dialing up a pass rush.3) Green BayClay Matthews is gone. Nick Perry is gone. Kyler Fackrell has emerged, instead, as the top edge defender for the Packers. He had double-digit sacks for the first time in his career in 2018, and he was a decent presence despite having only 7 starts (even though he appeared in all 16 games). He is a capable player, and most teams would be happy to have him in the rotation. However, he is not an elite edge rusher.Of course http://www.thebearslockerroom.com/authentic-khalil-mack-jersey , with Green Bay losing a number of it’s top defenders, they have not been idle. The Packers dove into free agency with unusual vigor, picking up Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The Smiths are more or less of a type with Fackrell, in that they are capable role-players. They are not, however, elite defenders. Finally, Green Bay drafted Rashan Gary, one of the top edge rushers in the draft. Gary is raw, but he has a lot of talent and the potential to be explosive. This actually gives the Packers an interesting advantage over the two teams I have ahead of them, in that they have three functional edge rushers and a top developmental prospect. This depth, and their overall quality, is enough to give Green Bay a lead over the Lions, but unless Gary comes on strong, the Packers are going to rely more on other aspects of their defense. 4) DetroitOfficially, Detroit runs a 4-3 defense and therefore defensive ends are their edge rushers. There are a few guys who play up and down the line and move into other spots, but in order to be consistent I am going to use the designations provided by the team itself and then by Pro Football Reference. None of the players were ranked by Football Outsiders with respect to their total defeats. This was a weak, weak group. Romeo Okwara had 7.5 sacks for the Lions in 2018, and that was enough to lead Detroit. In 7 games (and 2 starts), Ansah had 4 sacks, but he has left for Seattle. After him there’s even less production at edge. Like Green Bay, Detroit approached this limitation with both the draft and with free agency.First, Detroit added Trey Flowers in free agency. Flowers is a solid player, and he managed 20 quarterback hits in 2018, which was a down from 2017. He also forced three fumbles. Flowers is a capable player, and he has played for Patricia in the past. Next, they also drafted Austin Bryant, whom NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein says is a comparable player to the Vikings’ own Stephen Weatherly. I actually think Bryant was a bargain in the fourth round. He should be able to work his way into the rotation as develop as a fine player.That basically means that Detroit is looking at Okwara, Flowers, and Bryant as their primary trio of edge rushers. That’s not bad, but it’s also not intimidating. For example, Okwara and Flowers combined for only one-half sack more in 2018 that Danielle Hunter managed on his own.If Okwara is somehow supposed to equal Fackrell (he’s not), and if Flowers is considered the equivalent of both of the Smiths (he probably isn’t), that still leaves Green Bay leading by the extent to which Gary has greater potential than Bryant.Next up, interior defensive linemen.
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