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Week 10 Game Preview: Bears-Vikings

Is this a trap game heading into a bye, a get-right game or just another slog fest because the Bears are bad?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

This is a huge game for the Bears, which is weird to say about a game against a 3-5 squad, but the Bears need to turn it around and quickly in order to keep the season on its rails.

I’m not even saying playoff hopes, I’m just saying “keep their season alive.”

After a 5-1 start, it seems crazy to think that’s the reality, but the Bears have come crashing back down to earth and are coming in on a three-game losing streak. The Bears overcame a four-game losing streak a year ago but never recovered enough to get past a .500 record.

If the Bears want to best that, they have a tall task ahead of them, as the Minnesota Vikings are coming to town for a Monday Night Football match up. Kirk Cousins in primetime? We’ve seen this one before, but with the way Dalvin Cook is playing, Cousins probably doesn’t need to be perfect.

The national pundits that before the season were predicting gloom and so gleefully told the Bears fans that the team would come crashing down are likely reveling in the team’s recent misfortunes. If Matt Nagy and Co. have any tricks up their sleeves they had better pull them out quick to salvage whatever they can this year.

Minnesota Vikings

SB Nation site: Daily Norseman

Record: 3-5, third in NFC North

Last week: 34-20 win over the Detroit Lions

Game day, time, TV: Monday, 7:15 p.m., ESPN

Bears all-time record against: 56-60-2 (including postseason)

Historical meetings: The last time these teams met on Monday Night Football, it didn’t go the Bears’ way. So let’s highlight the time before that when it did.

Week 8, 2016, the 1-6 Bears met the 5-1 Vikings at Soldier Field. The Bears carried a 13-3 halftime lead on the back of two Conner Barth field goals and a two-yard Jordan Howard run.

In the third quarter Jay Cutler led an 11-play, 75 yard touchdown drive, which ended with an 11-yard scoring play to Alshon Jeffery.

Jordan Howard run wild over the Vikings for 163 yards and the defense sacked Sam Bradford five times, including two for Akiem Hicks.

Strangely there were no turnovers by either team, in a game that involved Sam Bradford and Jay Cutler.

The Bears won 20-10.

Last meeting: The Bears saved some face in week 17 last year as they salvaged a not-losing record against a Vikings squad that was prepping for the playoffs.

Sean Mannion started for Minnesota and Chicago took a strange 11-6 halftime lead after three Eddy Piniero field goals and a safety when Nick Kwiatkoski tackled Mike Boone in the endzone.

David Montgomery ran for 113 yards and a third quarter score. The Vikings took the lead in the fourth on a Boone touchdown and two field goals from Dan Bailey.

Mitch Trubisky led the Bears down with less than five minutes to play, hitting Riley Ridley on 4th down and 9 from the 49 yard line for 32 yards.

The Bears gained another 15 yards with Montgomery and a short pass to Allen Robinson. Then Piniero hit a 22-yard field goal and the Bears won 21-19. Eddie Jackson intercepted Mannion on the final play of the game.

Offense: The Vikings offense comes in ranked 12th in points and 11th in yards.

Their passing offense ranks 25th but their rushing offense ranks third.

That’s mostly down to Dalvin Cook (144 att./858 yds./12 TD). Last week the Bears faced Derrick Henry, who came in to that game as the NFL’s leading rusher and this week they will face Cook, who is now the league’s leading rusher. Not sure how often a team faces the league’s rushing leader in back-to-back weeks.

Spelling Cook is Alexander Mattison (69/322/1) who is averaging a healthy 4.7 YPC himself, so this is a well-balanced ground game.

On the passing side, Kirk Cousins (65.6 pct cmp./1,855 yds./15 TD/10 INT) has leveled off after a rough September to start the year but still isn’t exactly tearing it up. His success is very much dependent on that running game, so bottling up Cook will be imperative for the Bears defense.

Catching Cousins’ passes are Adam Thielen (37 rec./480 yds./7 TD), rookie Justin Jefferson (24/627/3), TEs Kyle Rudolph (14/175/1) and Irv Smith Jr. (13/159/2) and once again, Cook (16/173/1).

Defense: The defense comes into the game ranked 25th in points allowed and 29th in yards.

Their passing defense ranks 30th and their rushing defense ranks 20th.

And now here come the Bears to make them look like the Purple People Eaters once again.

After trading Yannick Ngakoue, the Vikings now features OLB Eric Wilson (2.5 sk/4 TFL/3 PD/3 INT/1 FF) and Ifeadi Odenigbo (2.5 sk/9 QB hits/2 TFL) as their leading pass rushers.

Harrison Smith (2 INT/4 PD/3 QB hits) is still patrolling deep and Eric Kendricks (84 tkl/3 PD/1 INT/2 TFL) is still lurking too.

Key match ups: The offense is facing a very bad defense and it should take advantage, but literally nothing comes easy to this group and even with a regular back up back available on the OL and maybe more, there should be fewer excuses, but do you trust them?

Allen Robinson should see favorable match ups against rookie CBs Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler. Robinson’s route running is going to test the young players.

The offensive line, if they can get a couple players back this week, have a chance against a not-great Minnesota pass rush. But, that was also said last week.

On defense, it’s going to be about the Bears’ defensive line winning at the line of scrimmage against the Vikings offensive line and shutting down the running lanes for Dalvin Cook. I think the even bigger match up may be Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan against Cook. Smith and Trevethan have been flying around and making plays, especially in the run game.

Key stats:

  • Dalvin Cook leads the league in yards over expectation with 238. On Sunday he faced a stacked box on 64 percent of his carries and still had 83 yards over expectation. (Source: Gil Brandt, Twitter)
  • Despite a suspect defensive ranking, they are the sixth best third down defense, allowing opponents to convert 37.2 percent of the time.
  • Their redzone defense also ranks sixth, allowing opponents to score just 54.8 percent of the time.
  • Cook leads the league in rushing yards per game with 122.6. The Bears as a team are allowing 116 YPG.
  • Bears have won four straight games in the rivalry
  • Kirk Cousins in 7-16 in primetime games and 0-9 on Mondays
  • Can the Bears slow down Dalvin Cook as effectively as they did Derrick Henry? More importantly, can they find enough offense to win?