The Bears and Vikings sit in familiar positions. The NFC North rivals both possess a stellar, intimidating defense. They both have a diverse assortment of offensive playmakers and game-breakers. And they both, regrettably, can only trust their respective quarterbacks to a certain very low extent.
In terms of September games, this Sunday’s matchup at Soldier Field tops, well, most games in terms of long term consequences. The percentage of teams to start 0-2 in their division and eventually make the playoffs is roughly the same as the percentage of teams who start 0-2 overall: 10 percent. Whoever falls to the mat between the Bears and Vikings likely sees their season over before it starts, at least in historical terms.
The recipe for both teams to come out with a pivotal divisional victory is the same. Lean on an elite defense that harasses the opposing mediocre quarterback. Then get off the bus running (as every Bears team of your lifetime has eventually been forced to do). This won’t be an aesthetically pleasing game. If someone’s starting an offensive player featured in this matchup, they’re probably going to be bitter over their illogical decision after the fact. Survive. Come out relatively unscathed in regards to injuries. Move on and rub dirt on the inevitable gaping wounds.
Here’s how the Windy City Gridiron staff sees Sunday’s matchup playing out.
Robert Zeglinski: Bears 19, Vikings 16
Kirk Cousins against the Bears defense? Mitchell Trubisky against the Vikings defense? I would rather spend my time doing anything else. Say, my family would like to see me. I hope they do anyway.
The Bears eke out a game that has no alibi. U-g-l-y, it’s ugly.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Bears 17, Vikings 11
This will be the David Montgomery breakout game as the Bears go with a run often game-plan to methodically move the chains and keep the ball away from Dalvin Cook— football’s current premier running back.
Aaron Leming: Bears 17, Vikings 14
The Bears need to escape with the victory. They’ve been very good against the Vikings at home, and Kirk Cousins has yet to prove he can beat winning teams, especially while on the road. Even with minor injuries, this is a game the Bears should win.
Bill Zimmerman: Bears 20, Vikings 17
The win over Washington was a huge boost not only for Trubisky, but also for Matt Nagy. The offense is starting to gain an identity. If Chicago’s banged-up defensive front can mostly contain Dalvin Cook, they should be able to head across the pond with a 3-1 record under their belt.
Josh Sunderbruch: Bears 17, Vikings 17
That’s right, a tie. I’d have the Bears up by a field goal, but with Eddy Pineiro nursing a pinched nerve, it goes to overtime after an unfortunate miss and two of the top defenses in the NFL keep the offenses blanked.
Erik Duerrwaechter: Bears 24, Vikings 10
Trubisky is finally starting to warm up, and the Bears’ offense has found an identity with Montgomery taking over the lead role in the backfield. Cousins will have a nightmare outing facing a red-hot Chicago defense.
Jacob Infante: Vikings 20, Bears 17
Trubisky pieced together a solid performance last week, but the Vikings pose a bigger threat than lowly Washington. Cousins’ recent struggles could lead to a Bears victory, but the pessimist I am, I’m not comfortable heading into this matchup.
Ken Mitchell: Bears 17, Vikings 13
Two of the top defenses in the league control a low-scoring contest, but in the end the better defense wins.
WhiskeyRanger: Bears 21, Vikings 17
The Vikings are good on both sides of the ball, but a dominant Bears defense will hold them back enough for the offense to build off an impressive showing in Washington.
Sam Householder: Bears 24, Vikings 16
The Vikings haven’t had a ton of success at Soldier Field since 2008 (2-9) and I am not sold on the “improved Vikings are back” storyline. The Bears will get after Kirk Cousins, who is 3-9 in late afternoon games and get an all-important divisional win.
Robert Schmitz: Bears 20, Vikings 17
While I don’t trust Trubisky against good defenses, I trust Kirk Cousins less. This game comes down to one simple question: Can the Bears’ defense stop the Vikings’ running attack? I think they limit the surging Cook to one long score and little else. That matchup favors the Bears significantly.
Patti Curl Bears 52, Vikings 10 (If Akiem Hicks doesn’t play. Let’s say —3 if he does.)
I trust Trubisky and this offense to find their paws against the worthy Vikings defense. They’ve been waiting for the proper challenge to motivate them and I think this will be it.
Robert is choosing to repress a Trubisky-Cousins head to head—for fear of his mental sanity—and remind himself that Khalil Mack is playing. He feels much better now.
WCG Contributors: Jeff Berckes; Patti Curl; Eric Christopher Duerrwaechter; Kev H; Sam Householder; Jacob Infante; Aaron Lemming; Ken Mitchell; Steven Schweickert; Jack Silverstein; EJ Snyder; Lester Wiltfong, Jr.; Whiskey Ranger; Robert Schmitz; Robert Zeglinski; Like us on Facebook.