It doesn’t get more anti-climactic than a meaningless Bears-Vikings game to close a season. The two NFC North rivals are set to meet in Week 17 for the fourth straight year, and somehow they’ve never managed to make this respective meeting important. It’s a tradition unlike any other where at least one participant has routinely had nothing to play for, nothing to look forward to aside from the golf course. It couldn’t be any less meaningless in terms of stakes.
Minnesota is approaching this uneventful dress rehearsal with caution. Locked into the NFC’s No. 6 seed after a deflating defeat to the Packers last Monday night, the Vikings have little motive to go full throttle in a game that cannot change their destiny, or at least, make their January journey less precarious. As such, starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, all-around spark plug Dalvin Cook, and defensive cornerstone Eric Kendricks will each rest in a de facto bye week before the NFC Wild Card Round begins next weekend.
The Vikings and head coach Mike Zimmer have their priorities straight. Zimmer’s team is almost two years removed from a humiliating beat down at the hands of the Eagles in the 2018 NFC Championship Game: A defeat that opened some severe, traumatic wounds that have yet to heal. The first NFL player to receive a fully guaranteed contract as large as $84 million over three years in Cousins was a big fish signing, the big fish signing. He was supposed to push the Vikings over the top after such a letdown. An 8-7-1 season followed by an uninspired 10-5 start understandably pushes Minnesota to a point of desperation.
Desperation for validation of their aggressive move for Cousins. Desperation to salvage something in the wake of what looks more and more like a waste of one of football’s best rosters. Sitting Cousins and Cooks and Kendricks is a hearty rationalization of what needs to be done to preserve the sanity of an organization on the brink. It’s, well, desperate. Getting swept by the Bears for the second straight season pales in comparison as a failure to making the playoffs and bowing out to no avail; the way the Vikings always have, and the way it appears they always will.
What the Bears desire from this final tilt of 2019 is by no means a lofty ask. Cliches of “momentum” and “finishing strong” from a typical disappointing team have echoed from this group in the past week. But it truly might be different for the Bears. The past two seasons have seen respectability skyrocket for Chicago, only to dwindle away in the blink of an eye. From a pure optics perspective, a losing season will be seen as far more of an immense setback than a .500 campaign. If that kind of thought process makes no sense at first glance, that’s because it doesn’t. But try relaying that brand of cynicism onto a group of professionals still reeling from a season of what could have happened and what did not happen.
Windy City Gridiron’s picks for Bears-Vikings in the 2019 season finale.
Robert Zeglinski: Bears 20, Vikings 17
As battered and wilted as they are, they have no excuses. If the Bears lose to Sean Mannion, someone must permanently revoke their Football Playing License.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Vikings 20, Bears 17
This Vikings team needs a win against the Bears after losing their last three vs. Chicago. They’ll get some revenge from last year’s Week 17 beat down in a fitting way to end the season for Matt Nagy’s crew.
Sam Householder: Bears 17, Vikings 13
The Vikings are headed to New Orleans and have no incentive to play anyone and risk injury. I think the Bears have a get-right vibe against backups but no one is feeling good about it.
Bill Zimmerman: Bears 16, Vikings 12
The Vikings have nothing to play for. The Bears will want to avoid a losing record. I assume Sean Mannion will be under center for Minnesota and I think Mitchell Trubisky is better than he is.
Robert Schmitz: Bears 20, Vikings 13
Last year, the Bears—with nothing to play for—throttled a Vikings team that needed a win. It’s a different script this season.
Jacob Infante: Vikings 17, Bears 12
With Minnesota resting several starters, this is a game the Bears should be able to win. Which is exactly why they won’t.
WhiskeyRanger: Bears 20, Vikings 16
The Bears finish the season off with a meaningless win, against a team trying to get healthy for the playoffs. And the long off-season begins.
Patti Curl: Bears 52 Vikings 4
“52 to 4” will be the defensive story as Khalil Mack repeatedly smothers backup quarterback Sean Mannion under his ursine mass. After two safeties, the Bears’ offense finally pulls the trigger on playing Staley at tight end, who goes wild with 85 receptions for 500 yards and seven touchdowns. Eddy Pineiro hits all his extra points!
Ken Mitchell: Bears 24, Vikings 12
Those of you who have been following my picks all year won’t be surprised I picked the Bears yet again because I always pick the Bears, no matter what. One more time, it’s “Sydney or the bush!”
Robert is currently mesmerized by a conspiracy theory concerning what it is exactly that Kirk Cousins decided to grill last summer. Has no gotten to the bottom of this mystery yet? Is it a deep-fake?!
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