This is going to be a great game for Cook and the offense to get untracked after that first game against the Bears. When Hicks was in for Chicago the Vikings just couldn't get out of the blocks on the ground, but after watching the film and hopefully making some adjustments I expect to see the Vikings be much more effective running, especially after watching them dismantle the Tampa run defense. If I can say anything about what the Vikings really need from their ground game this Sunday, it is for Cook to stop tripping himself up and stay on his feet, because he's leaving some big runs on the table. He did it a few times against the Bucs this last Sunday where I thought he'd have a shot at the endzone had he not tripped himself up.
The other key against the Bears is going to be for Cousins and the Vikes to take the top off the Bear defense. The Bears don't bring their safeties down all that much as they do a decent job getting disruption and pressure with their front 7, and in that sense they resemble the Bucs in terms of how they can play against the pass. Cousins played it safe and smart for the most part against the Bucs as a result, and while that was effective, I think the Vikings have to try to get a few deep shots in. Heck, if the Bears want to keep their safeties deep and help over the top against Thielen and JJ, why not run Irv Smith up the seam and try to find him downfield? He's fast enough to get open on a deep route. They just need to try it a few times. Chicago doesn't blitz that much. If the OL shows it can hold up against the pass rush, see if there are a few big plays to be found down the field.
Defensively, the Vikings better watch the film of what the Bears did against the Texans. While the Texans seem to have mailed it in this season, the Bears looked invigorated. Best not sit back and let them get some wind in their sails in this one. I'm still not worried about the Bear offense overall, but I think the Vikings should be aggressive on defense and see if they can force the Bears into a couple of mistakes. Same fundamental formula is going to be necessary in this one - limit the run on 1st and 2nd down, then get after Trubisky on 3rd downs. Keep Trubisky from running. He's going to find his way out of the pocket a few times, but don't let him extend drives with his legs.
For the special teams, they have to have hit rock bottom at this point. All facets of the special teams have to take a deep breath and start performing. If they want to kick it away from Patterson, kick it away or boot it along the ground or do whatever you have to if you're worried about him returning it. Punt coverage, punting, punt return, field goals, etc, just have to do their jobs. Mentally, they have to put the last few weeks behind them and just take the step of this next game. This is an area where coaching is critical and the coaches must step up at this point and put together a complete game.
And lastly, I hope the refs stay out of this one after that debacle and embarrassment of a game they called against the Bucs. Call obvious stuff, but call it consistent and fair, and don't interject yourselves into plays that essentially hand the other team free points unless the foul is egregious and obvious. Hopefully the Bears won't have a shot at a hail mary, but if they do, barring a Viking player literally tackling a Bear receiver before the ball gets there, the refs need to stay out of it.