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Minnesota Vikings 2014 opponent profile: Chicago Bears

Xavier Rhodes (29) deflects a pass intended for Brandon Marshall (15) during the last season's meeting at Mall of America Field between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears split their two meetings last season with each team winning at home. The Vikings suffered their first of many last-minute losses last season at Soldier Field.

2013 Record: 8-8 (second in the NFC South)

2013 Offensive Statistics: 27.8 points per game, 381.8 total offensive yards per game, 114.3 rushing yards per game, 267.6 passing yards per game, 23 turnovers

2013 Defensive Statistics: 29.9 points allowed per game, 394.6 total offensive yards allowed per game, 161.4 rushing yards allowed per game, 233.1 passing yards allowed per game, 27 turnovers forced, 31 sacks

Head Coach: Marc Trestman (second season in Chicago)

Key Returning Offensive Players: TE Martellus Bennett, G Eben Britton, OT Jermon Bushrod, QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, C Roberto Garza, WR Alshon Jeffery, G Kyle Long, WR Brandon Marshall, OT Jordan Mills, QB Jordan Palmer, G Matt Slauson, WR Marquess Wilson

Key Returning Defensive Players: LB Jonathan Bostic, LB Lance Briggs, DT Nate Collins, S Chris Conte, CB Isaiah Frey, LB Khassem Greene, CB Kelvin Hayden, CB Tim Jennings, LB Shea McClellin, DT Stephen Paea, NT Jay Ratliff, S Craig Steltz, CB Charles Tillman, LB D.J. Williams

Free Agent Additions: DE Jared Allen, C Brian de la Puente, WR Domenik Hixon, DL Lamarr Houston, S M.D. Jennings, DE Austen Lane, TE Jeron Mastrud, S Danny McCray, WR Josh Morgan, TE Matthew Mulligan, S Ryan Mundy, LB Jordan Senn, S Adrian Wilson, DE Willie Young

Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 14 - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech; Round 2, Pick 51 - Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU; Round 3, Pick 82 - Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State; Round 4, Pick 117 - Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona; Round 4, Pick 131 - Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota; Round 6, Pick 183 - David Fales, QB, San Jose State; Round 6, Pick 191 - Pat O’Donnell, P, Miami (FL); Round 7, Pick 246 - Charles Leno, OT, Boise State

Outlook: The Bears would have won the division last season, if not for their defense. Only the Vikings and Dallas Cowboys had a worse defense in 2013.

They could’t stop the run nor rush the passer. They had the worst run defense allowing over 160 yards per game, more than 25 yards more per game than the next highest total, and tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the fewest sacks. Injuries ravaged the defensive line, especially at defensive tackle, and it hurt the Bears on a weekly basis.

They did everything they could to improve their front seven by taking defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton with two of their first three picks in the draft and signed five free agent defensive linemen with a good amount of starting experience, most notably former Viking Jared Allen.

The Bears also added pieces to the secondary using their first round pick on cornerback Kyle Fuller and adding several experienced safeties. Fourth round draft pick Brock Vereen has already made a strong case to be a starter at one of the safety spots.

The offense will be strong in 2014, as long as the offensive line can be decent. The Bears have the best one-two wide receiver combination in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Both are big and fast targets for Jay Cutler. Matt Forte is one of the best rushing and receiving backs in the NFL.

The Bears may have the best team in the NFC North on paper and should win the division this season.

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