A few weeks ago, RedEye asked the Bears what it's like to prepare for an All Pro like Detroit defensive lineman Ndamakong Suh. Bears offensive lineman Lance Louis shrugged and said, "There's a lot of All Pros in this league." In other words, don't get too worked up over the guy you're playing this week, because you'll play somebody just as good next week.
No kidding. Over the next six weeks, the Bears play five of the NFL's top seven leading rushers: Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Peterson again. Because no running back has decimated a Lovie Smith-led defense quite like Peterson's first crack at the Bears in 2007 (224 yards, three touchdowns), let's take a look at the Bears' last games against these runners, graded on a scale of 1 to 2007 Adrian Peterson.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee
Pro Bowls: 2008, 2009, 2010
Next meeting: Sunday at Tennessee
Last meeting: Nov. 9, 2008—Titans 21, Bears 14
The last time the Bears played Chris Johnson, the Titans were 8-0 and the then-rookie was beginning his ascent to NFL superstardom. He entered that game averaging just under 90 rushing yards per contest, and though his Titans were victorious, the Bears stuffed Johnson for his third-lowest rushing output of his career: 14 carries for 8 yards.
Rating: 1/10 on the 2007 Adrian Peterson scale
Arian Foster, Houston
Pro Bowls: 2010, 2011
Next meeting: Nov. 11 at Chicago
Last meeting: N/A
When the Bears played the Texans in December 2008, Arian Foster was a senior at the University of Tennessee. He was undrafted in 2009, caught on with Houston, lit the league ablaze in 2010 and has stayed hot since. Foster is averaging 94.1 rushing yards per game this season; the Bears are allowing 77.9. In the words of ESPN's Chris Berman, "THAT'S why we play the game."
Rating: ?/10 on the 2007 Adrian Peterson scale
Frank Gore, San Francisco
Pro Bowls: 2006, 2009, 2011
Next meeting: Nov. 19 at San Francisco
Last meeting: Nov. 12, 2009. 49ers 10, Bears 6
When the Bears arrived in San Francisco for a game against the 49ers, Frank Gore was slowly returning to form following an ankle injury. That changed against the Bears: 104 yards on 25 carries and the game's only touchdown. He was strong all the way through, with 12 touches in the fourth quarter and two 20-yard runs.
Rating: 7/10 on the 2007 Adrian Peterson scale
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle
Pro Bowl: 2008
Next meeting: Dec. 2 at Chicago
Last meeting: Dec. 18, 2011. Seahawks 38, Bears 14
Tackling Marshawn Lynch is like lifting an eel—it's rather slippery and definitely stronger than you, and ultimately you're going to need a few friends to help. Lynch wasn't sensational against the Bears last year—only 42 yards on 20 carries. But he converted a third down and scored twice in short yardage situations. Oh, and his team won by 24.
Rating: 5/10 on the 2007 Adrian Peterson scale
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
Pro Bowls: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
Next meetings: Nov. 25 at Chicago, Dec. 9 at Minnesota
Last meeting: Oct. 16, 2011. Bears 39, Vikings 10
Peterson had his first non-Pro Bowl season in 2011, rushing for 970 yards in 12 games. Underwhelming, but he did score 12 touchdowns. In his lone 2011 game against the Bears, Peterson carried the ball 12 times for 39 yards and scored the Vikings' only touchdown. This year he leads the league in rushing. And since the Bears play Peterson twice, it's worth mentioning that even with that 39-yard game, Peterson has averaged over 100 yards in eight games against the Bears, scoring in all but one game.
Rating: 3/10 on the 2007 Adrian Peterson scale
Special contributor Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye. Say hey @readjack.