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Vikings-Bears matchup of the day: Saturday

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Dec. 18, 2010 @ 6:35 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Here's another key matchup to keep an eye on when the Vikings take on the Bears in Week 15:

Bears DE Julius Peppers vs. Vikings' offensive line

In the first matchup, the Bears flip-flopped Peppers between left and right end at an almost even ratio. He appeared to have more success rushing from the left side, going against ORT Phil Loadholt, than he did against OLT Bryant McKinnie. Peppers had only four tackles in the game, but he had four pressures in the game and opened things up for others, namely DE Israel Idonije and DT Henry Melton.

The Vikings had a strategy of using five-man protections often in Week 10, and that was with Brett Favre at QB. Considering that Joe Webb will be starting, you can be sure that the Vikings will use five- and six-man protections often, with the threat of Peppers and the Bears' pass rush wreaking havoc against the inexperienced quarterback. They'll want to rattle him as much as possible, and the Vikings certainly will want to prevent that, especially in cold conditions.

Look for the Vikings to try their best to run at Peppers and use backs and tight ends to help double-team him. Neither Loadholt nor McKinnie can handle Peppers' lateral speed consistently for 60 minutes, but with help they certainly can try to power through him. Adrian Peterson was held mostly in check in the first matchup, with only 51 yards on 17 carries and his only significant run a 20-yarder when the Bears missed a tackle.

The Vikings can't afford to have Peppers live in the backfield Monday, not with Webb already having enough on his plate to worry about.

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