The Minnesota Vikings (12-4) travel to Chicago to take on the Bears (3-13) at 1:00 pm (EST) at Soldier Field. The Vikings are a 7.5-point favorite and are given a 86.2% chance to win according to ESPN’s FPI. This game is not really important. The Vikings have a chance at the two seed, but would need the 49ers to lose to the Cardinals, so they are likely locked in at the three spots vs. the Giants. The Bears have a chance for the number one pick but would need Houston to beat Indianapolis. With that let’s take a look at what to expect from the Minnesota vs. Chicago matchup.
The Vikings are coming off of another bad 41-17 blowout loss. This time it was to their rival Green Bay Packers (8-8). The Vikings now look to the Bears who will be without quarterback Justin Fields in the regular season finale. The Vikings aren’t expected to sit their starters this week with the two seed still in play for them. The Vikings can get the two seed with a win and a 49er loss. If San Francisco wins, then they are locked into the three seed with a rematch with the New York Giants (9-6-1) in the Wildcard round.
What To Watch
Who else other than Justin Jefferson. With the Vikings looking to play their starters, Jefferson will have a shot at Calvin Johnson’s single season record. Jefferson needs 193 yards to break the record and has a shot at the 2,000-yard mark, though unlikely, as he would need 229 yards.
After last week’s performance where he was held to one catch for 15 yards. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him go off and have a big game against the Bears. Last time the two met Jefferson had 12 catches for 154 yards. Don’t be surprised if he breaks Johnson’s record.
Biggest Question Heading Into The Playoffs
Can the Vikings get healthy and get backups ready for the postseason in just a couple weeks? The injuries continue to pile up for the Vikings. Backup center Austin Schlottmann and offensive tackle Brain O’Neil both were placed on injured reserve this week. Not something you want to see a couple weeks out from Wild Card weekend. The Vikings signed three offensive linemen in Greg Mancz, Bobby Evans, and Chris Reed to help fill the hole with both Schlottmann and O’Neil out for the remainder of the season.
Center Garret Bradbury has been dealing with injuries all year, so it could be problematic for the Vikings. They need the backup centers to take a lot of reps in the coming weeks, regardless of if Bradbury will play in the postseason or not. Give them time with Kirk just to get familiar with everything. We don’t need a repeat of last week with third string players getting thrown into a game, especially in an environment like San Francisco, Dallas, or Philadelphia.
The Minnesota Vikings currently have seven players on their injury list.
- Josh Metellus (S) – Thigh
- James Lynch (NT) – Shoulder
- Brian Asamoah (LB) – Knee
- Garrett Bradbury (C) – Back
- Austin Schlottmann (G) – Fibula
- Brain O’Neill (OT) – Achilles
- Jonathan Bullard (DE) – Bicep
The Vikings placed both Austin Schlottmann and Brain O’Neil on the IR this week. Schlottmann suffered a fractured fibula and O’Neil has a partially torn Achilles against the Packers. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard is set to return from the IR on Wednesday. Center Garrett Bradbury is doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Bears, but the Vikings are hopeful that he’ll be ready for the playoffs. Nose tackle James Lynch did not participate at Wednesday’s practice and Josh Metellus was a limited participant as well.
The Bears’ season has been over for a while now and they will be without starting star quarterback Justin Fields. The only thing Chicago has going for them is that they have a chance at getting the number one pick in the draft. In order for that to happen they would need Houston to beat Indianapolis.
Even if they don’t get the number one pick, they’ll have the number two pick as long as they don’t win. If they do win, it could be a little trouble as the Broncos and Cardinals both sit at 4-12 and losses this week would put them at 4-13. Then a tie breaker would come into play, which could drop them to the fourth pick in the draft.
What To Watch
Everyone other than the backup quarterback. Look, if you’re the Bears, this is basically a preseason game for you. At this point you’re just scouting your team and seeing what you have going into next season. The Bears need to really look at this team after going 3-13 and likely 3-14.
When you enter week 18 and the thing you have going for you is that you have a shot at getting the number pick in the draft, you had a rough year. The Bears really need to look at what they have to identify what they need to go after this offseason. If they can do this, it’ll go a long way to make the most of this offseason to improve the team.
Biggest Question Heading Into Next Season
You have the quarterback in Justin Fields, now can you build yourself a team around him? This is it for the Bears. You have what most teams spend years, sometimes decades, searching for, a star quarterback. You have that in Fields, and he’s shown that star quarterback talent. Now it’s up to the GM Ryan Poles to find pieces to build around him to make Chicago into a contender. Next season, I would want to be what Detroit is this year. A team vying for a playoff spot. That’s the goal next year for the Bears. You don’t have to make it, but be in contention for it late in the season; be relevant.
So, what do the Bears need to do to make this happen? Well, first you need to nail the draft. You’re likely going to have one of the top two picks in the draft so that’s good news. Chicago will have one first, a second (from Baltimore), a third, two fourth (one from Philadelphia), two fifth (one from Baltimore), and a seventh-round pick. It’ll be important for the Bears to make good with what they have this year, especially with how high of a pick they’ll have this season.
The Chicago Bears have eight players currently on their injury list.
- Sterling Weatherford (LB) – Illness
- Patrick Scales (LS) – Neck
- Angelo Blackson (DE) – Illness
- Kyler Gordon (CB) – Groin
- Jaquan Brisker (S) – Personal
- Ja’Tyre Carter (G) – Back
- Jaylon Jones (DB) – Concussion
- Dante Pettis (WR) – Head
- Trevon Wesco (TE) – Ankle
- Justin Fields (QB) – Hip
- Teven Jenkins (OT) – Neck
- Michael Schofield III (G) – Knee
- Josh Blackwell (CB) – Undisclosed
The Bears placed Jenkins, Schofield III, and Blackwell on IR on Wednesday. Justin Fields is out for Sunday’s game with a hip strain. Brisker, Carter, Pettis, and Wesco were all full participants at Thursday’s practice. Kyler Gordon was the only limited participant at practice on Thursday. Scales, Weatherford, Blackson, and Jones all did not participate in Thursday’s practice.
For the second week in a row my bold prediction is that Justin Jefferson will break Calvin Johnson’s single season receiving record. Jefferson needs 193 yards to break Johnson’s record of 1,964. He would need 229 yards to get to the 2,000 mark. I can definitely see him getting to Johnson’s record, but 229 yards seems a bit steep even with what he has done this season. So, if you tune into the game on Sunday, watch for Jefferson and keep an eye on him to see if he can make history by having the most receiving yards in a single season.
The following betting lines are according to ESPN’s Pick Center.
- Minnesota: -7.5
- Chicago: +7.5
- Minnesota: -330
- Chicago: +275
Where To Watch
Minnesota vs. Chicago will air on Fox at 1:00 pm (EST). Commentating the game will be Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Jonathan Vilma (analyst), and Shannon Spake (sideline). You can watch the game on the Fox Sports app or on FoxSports.com. The game will also be on NFL Sunday Ticket (DirecTV). Streaming services that have Fox are fubo TV, Hulu (with live TV), Sling TV, and Youtube TV.
Well, this shouldn’t be pretty if you’re the Bears. Justin Fields is out, and the Vikings are playing their starters. So, that means a blowout, right? If you’re a Vikings fan you better hope so. Fortunately for them, it will be. The Vikings will be looking to get in the win column after getting embarrassed by the Packers last week. Minnesota will also want to be going into the playoffs feeling good, not bad. Kirk Cousins will light it up in the air while Dalvin Cook has a good game on the ground. Justin Jefferson will break Calvin Johnson’s single season record but will fall short of the 2,000-yard mark. Minnesota wins 45-10.
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