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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Bears defense offers good tune-up for Case Keenum

By Matthew Coller

The last time the Minnesota Vikings were at US Bank Stadium, they ran over the Cincinnati Bengals so easily that quarterback Case Keenum only had to throw the ball over 10 yards on five of his 23 passes.

Then in Green Bay, Keenum struggled at times in sub-zero temperatures, but was mostly in control as the Vikings’ defense shut out the Packers.

While week’s opponent won’t be playing for playoff position, the Chicago Bears aren’t in give-up mode nor are they so injured that there’s nary a chance of a competitive game.

Chicago’s offense doesn’t have much of a shot against the Vikings’ No. 1 rated defense, but the Chicago defense will offer a good challenge for Keenum as he prepares to play the first playoff game of his NFL career.

The Bears rank in the top 10 against the pass and all three of their cornerbacks rate in the top 30 by Pro Football Focus and Adrian Amos is the No. 2 rated safety in the NFL (behind Harrison Smith).

“The biggest thing this year is that they’re playing better on the back end,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Thursday. “They’re mixing a lot of coverages. They play strong side roll, weak side roll, a lot of quarters, 3-deep, they play some man-to-man. Amukamara presses a little big more than Fuller. I think Jackson’s helped them in the secondary. I think, usually when you get good statistically in total yards it’s because you don’t give up a lot of plays in the passing game and you can be pretty good that way.”

The last time Keenum matched up with the Bears, they aimed to take away deep passes to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The Vikings took what they were given, gaining 140 yards on 17-for-21 passing.

Here’s a chart via NFLNextGen stats on his throws that night:

The Bears will have time to gameplan for Keenum this time, which could give us a window into how defenses might play him in the playoffs. There’s a good chance the Vikings will play a team they have seen before. Heading into Week 17, all four Wild Card round teams have matched up with Minnesota this season.

Keenum will also be asked to beat Chicago without his offensive line at full strength. Center Pat Elflein will not play, forcing Joe Berger to move from right guard to center. That may affect the short passing game and force Keenum to work the ball downfield more often.

Even with a dinged-up O-line, the Vikings’ quarterback should have time to diagnose Chicago’s defenses as they are missing their top two edge rushers Pernell McPhee and Leonard Floyd.

The post Bears defense offers good tune-up for Case Keenum appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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