That sound you heard was Adrian Peterson owners doing simultaneous kart wheels, then a somersault, then like nine more kart wheels.
During what’s either the first week of the fantasy playoffs for some or the final week to clinch a playoff berth for others, Peterson will run against a Brian Urlacher-less front seven this Sunday. The Bears middle linebacker will reportedly miss the next three weeks due to a hamstring strain, and he’ll possibly miss the remainder of the regular season before returning during the playoffs, according to the Chicago Tribune. You know, the real playoffs.
The injury occurred during a game that had more than enough mental and emotional pain to go with the physical pain that now follows. Urlacher was chasing down Russell Wilson in overtime of the Bears’ loss to Seattle when he felt a “pop.” That’s not a medical term. That’s just a scary word that leads to lots of football watching on the sideline.
An MRI this afternoon confirmed a grade two strain, according to the Tribune. It’s an injury that’s hurtful in reality, because while you can say what you will say about age and the slowness it brings, Urlacher is still a key element of the Bears’ defense. He’s second on the team with 68 tackles, behind only Lance Briggs (70), and he compensates for any speed he’s lost with great field vision and instincts, often dropping back to be effective in coverage too. There’s no good time for an injury of this nature, but there are worse times, and this is one of them as the Bears are fighting for both the NFC North (both the Bears and Packers have identical 8-4 records, but Green Bay currently holds the tie breaker after their head-to-head win in Week 2), and wild card seeding. Chicago’s chances of missing the playoffs are slim-ish since they have a two-game lead on the gaggle of 6-6 teams with four games to go, but that remains a possibility.
Alright, so with the pesky business of reality out of the way, here’s what matters most: Peterson is going to run for at least 856 yards this week.
Overall this is a Bears defense that ranks a sound 10th against the run, giving up an average of 103.5 yards per game, and they’ve only allowed four rushing touchdowns all year. That’s the bad news, and the good news is much better, because it’s good. While Marshawn Lynch’s rushing yardage was solid but not spectacular this past Sunday with 87 yards, he scored one of those four touchdowns. So there’s that, and then we can also go back one more week when this Peterson guy last faced Chicago, and he rushed for 108 yards at a pace of six yards per carry. And all of that came with Urlacher playing.
Now without one of their most efficient tacklers the Bears will attempt to stop a running back this week who’s averaged 157.8 rushing yards over his last six games. Yeah, that will end well for you, the Peterson owner.
While Peterson owners will enjoy the day, those who’ve been riding the Bears defense shouldn’t be too worried. Just be prepared to absorb your ground gashing, but remember that in most formats, defensive points primarily come from interceptions, sacks, and fumbles, and Urlacher has a minimal impact in two of those three areas.
There’s also the Christian Ponder factor that’s very much in your favor as a Bears defense owner. Ponder’s had passer ratings of 41.9 and 58.2 over the last two weeks, and his true insult to quarterback play came in Week 13, when he completed only 12 of his 25 attempts for 119 passing yards, a pace of 4.8 yards per attempt.