Minnesota, once 3-6 and left for dead by most NFL observers, has thrust itself into the postseason picture by going on an impressive four-game winning streak.
Behind the rushing of rookie Adrian Peterson and the trusty Chester Taylor, the continued maturation of second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, and the work of a defense that is No. 1 in the NFL against the run, the Vikings have ripped off consecutive wins over the Raiders (29-22), Giants (41-17), Lions (42-10), and 49ers (27-7).
The win streak is the longest for the club since 2005, when Mike Tice's final team took six in a row en route to a 9-7 finish.
Looking to halt the Vikes' current winning run will be the Bears, the reigning NFC Champions who find themselves on the outer fringes of the playoff race in what has been a disappointing 2007 to date.
Since raising hopes with a 37-34 come-from-behind win in overtime against the Broncos in Week 12, Chicago has dropped consecutive contests to the Giants (21-16) and Redskins (24-16) to clinch its first non-winning season since 2004.
Barring anything unforeseen, the Bears will become the sixth Super Bowl runner-up in the last seven years to miss the postseason one year after reaching the game's ultimate stage.