The Chicago Bears (5-10) take on the Minnesota Vikings (12-3) this Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sunday’s matchup will be the 114th meeting between the two teams with the Vikings holding the all-time series advantage (59-52-2). Sunday’s matchup between the Bears and Vikings will showcase the Bears who look to end the season on a high note and a two game winning streak while the Vikings look to secure the NFC’s second seed in the playoffs and earn a first-round bye. The Bears will end the season with another losing record and will miss the playoffs for another year in the John Fox era. With only four playoff appearances since 1994, Bears fans will watch their team pack for vacation again this afternoon while 12 other franchises look to host the Lombardi trophy on February 4th at the Super Bowl.
Offense– This week’s matchup between the Bears offense and the Vikings defense heavily favors the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are the number 1 ranked team in total defense in the NFL while the Mitch Trubisky led offense is ranked 30th in overall. Boasting 3 pro bowlers on defense including Eversen Griffin, Xavier Rhodes and Anthony Barr along with other talented players across the board, the Bears will struggle to move the ball on offense this Sunday. Giving up an average of 12.9 points at home this season, the Bears will be fortunate to come close to that number. EDGE: VIKINGS
Defense– Statistically, the Bears defense is giving up 19.8 points per game, ranking 10th overall in the NFL. The Vikings are a top 10 offense this season and score an average of 23.9 points per game and are virtually unbeatable at home. The Vikings strength lies in their pass catchers with pro bowl WR Adam Thielen and star wide receiver Stefon Diggs while TE Kyle Rudolph continues to be a steady target in the passing game. Fuller, Hicks and Trevathan are going to have their hands full on defense against the Vikings and with a first round bye and home field advantage on the line, the Bears defense will limp into the off season. EDGE: VIKINGS
Special Teams– Vikings kicker Kai Forbath has connected on 32 out of 37 attempts on the season and their punt returner Marcus Sherels and kickoff returner Jerick McKinnon have been solid. The Bears don’t know what they have in kicker Mike Nugent but Tarik Cohen continues to show he can be electric. EDGE: EVEN
Offense– Dion Sims– After signing a big deal with the Bears in the off season, Sims only has 15 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown this season. Sims needs to finish the season on a high note in Minnesota so the Bears can see what they have going forward.
Defense— Sam Acho– The veteran outside linebacker was recently named the Bears Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee once again and has had a solid season for the Bears with 43 tackles and 2 sacks. Acho has been steady all season and the Bears need a boost from an unsuspecting name to make this a a game. Maybe Sunday is the day Acho becomes that guy for the Bears?
Special Teams– Mike Nugent– Sunday’s performance could likely decide if Mike Nugent gets an opportunity to win the kicking job next season.
1) Defense needs to step up yet again. Winning the turnover battle is going to be key to stay in the game and the Bears will need to force a few this Sunday.
2) Receivers need to score a touchdown. The receivers need to step and show their worth if they’d like to make the 2018 roster. Scoring a touchdown in the final game would leave Ryan Pace with a good impression heading into the off season.
3) Run the ball. The Bears offense needs to shorten the game by calling plenty of run plays for Howard and Cohen in order to stay alive in this matchup. Their only hope is to tire out Minnesota’s tough defense.
The Vikings have a lot more to play for this Sunday afternoon while the Bears have already started making their vacation plans. More talent lies on the Vikings sideline but the Bears always come to play each. Ultimately, the Vikings are too much for the Bears at home but Mitch and his Bears never let the game get out of hand.
BEARS 17 Vikings 24
(All stats for this post were provided by espn.com)