MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The Bears will look to rebound from last weekend's loss to the Rams and grab a share of first place in the NFC North Sunday when they battle the Vikings in Minnesota.
The Bears (6-5) are a half-game behind the division-leading Lions (7-5), who crushed the Packers 40-10 on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. Green Bay (5-6-1) is in third place.
McCown has excelled in place of Cutler, completing 97 of 148 passes for 1,106 yards with seven touchdowns, one interception and a 100.8 passer rating, all in the last five games.
In last Sunday's loss to the Rams, McCown connected on 36 of 47 passes for 352 yards with two TDs, one interception and a 102.4 rating. The 36 completions set a Bears record, eclipsing the mark of 34 that was established by Jim Miller in 1999 and matched by Brian Griese in 2007.
The Bears boast the NFL's top receiving tandem in Brandon Marshall (74 receptions for 945 yards and nine TDs) and Alshon Jeffery (58-860-3), who have combined for 1,805 yards, the most by any duo in the league. They're also the only two teammates who both have over 800 yards.
Since joining the Bears prior to last season, Marshall leads the NFL with 192 catches, is tied for first with 20 TD receptions, ranks second with 12 100-yard games and is third with 2,453 yards.
The Vikings (2-8-1) are in last place in the NFC North. Like the Bears, their defense has struggled this season. Minnesota has allowed a league-worst 31.5 points per game, ranks 24th with 24 sacks and has generated only 14 takeaways in 11 games.
On the other side of the ball, Sunday's game at the Metrodome will feature a colossal mismatch on paper. The Bears run defense, which ranks last in the NFL, will face reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson, who is second in the NFL in rushing with 997 yards and 10 TDs on 226 carries.
In 11 career games against the Bears, Peterson has rushed for an average of 108 yards and 14 total touchdowns. After being held to 85, 94, 51 and 39 yards in four meetings from 2009-11, he has gained 108, 154 and 100 yards in his last three games against the Bears. Last Dec. 9 in Minnesota, Peterson ran for a team-record 104 yards in the first quarter, including a 51-yarder on the first play.
After allowing an average of 102 yards in the first six games this season, the Bears run defense has yielded an average of 197 yards in the last five contests. The unit has been decimated by injuries, losing cornerback Charles Tillman, linebackers Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams, and defensive tackles Henry Melton, Nate Collins and Stephen Paea.
The Bears trail the all-time series between the teams 53-50-2 but have won seven of the last eight meetings. However, the home team has won 19 of the last 23 games.
The Bears won the last match-up 31-30 on Sept. 15 as Cutler threw a 16-yard TD pass to Martellus Bennett with :10 remaining. The Vikings scored touchdowns on Cordarelle Patterson's 105-yard return on the game's opening kickoff and defensive end Brian Robison's 61-yard fumble return.
Tim Jennings returned a Christian Ponder interception 44 yards for a TD, and Devin Hester set a Bears record with 249 yards on five kickoff returns, including returns of 80, 76, 42 and 31 yards.
In total yards, the Bears offense ranks 8th in the NFL (21st rushing and 7th passing), while the Vikings defense ranks 30th (25th against the run and 29th versus the pass). The Bears defense is 25th overall (32nd against the run and 13th versus the pass, while the Vikings offense is 20th (11th rushing and 25th passing).