A number of intriguing storylines surround tonight’s Monday Night Football match-up between the Chicago Bears (9-4) and the Minnesota Vikings (5-8).

For one thing, although the Vikings are the home-team, the game will not be played in the Metrodome because the heavy snowfall the Twin Cities received last week punctured a hole in the roof of the stadium rendering it unusable.

Instead, this NFL contest between two stalwart franchises will be played out in the wintry air of University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. (Heavy snow is predicted for game-time).

Analysts believe playing outside in the frigid weather would give the visiting Bears a decided advantage, since they are used to playing in the bitter frozen tundra of Chicago’s Soldier Field. (This will represent the Vikings’ first outdoor home game since Dec. 20, 1981 at old Metropolitan Stadium, almost three decades ago).

There are concerns about the suitability and safety of the TCF Bank Stadium, where the college Golden Gophers call home. To ease some players concerns, heaters will be used to warm the field and a thermal tarp will cover the ground until game time.

Interestingly, the Vikings are currently in a campaign to seek public financing for a new stadium (the damage to the Metrodome likely hastens the urgency of the matter). Incidentally, the roof of the domed stadium has now collapsed five times in its existence.

Adding more of a twist is the fate of the Vikings uber-veteran quarterback Bret Favre, whose status has been upgraded to ”questionable” from “out,” which might mean he might be able to play. (The NFL defines “questionable” as a 50/50 chance of playing).

Favre has not practiced all week due to a sprained throwing arm, which kept him out of last week’s game against the New York Giants, which not only the Vikings lost, but also marked the end of Favre’s record string of 297 consecutive regular-season starts.

The game is meaningless for the Vikes (in what has been a lost and disappointing season), but for the Bears it gives them a chance to take control of the NFC North division should they win.
Minnesota will start rookie Joe Webb as the signal-caller, since the Vikings’ other quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is out with a foot injury.

The play-by-play of the game will be blogged live as it happens tonight on IBTimes.com starting at 8:30 p.m. (EDT).