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A case of the Mondays: Bears-Vikings game preview

Another primetime game for the Bears to get embarrassed in front of a national audience...

Pittsburgh Steelers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings are meeting at a time where it may seem like they’re trending in opposite directions.

At times this season both of their head coaches could be described as embattled. Mike Zimmer has caught a lot of heat and the Vikings have been up and down, and we all know how things have gone with Matt Nagy this year.

However, now the Vikings are coming off a big win over the Steelers and are one game out of the playoffs, while in Chicago it seems like the clock is ticking until Nagy is inevitably let go.

Nagy has had the Vikings’ number though, beating them five of the six times he’s coached against them. However, it was last year in Chicago that the Vikings notched their first win in the Nagy era.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bears are 5.5 point underdogs, at home, to the Vikings, a sign of the opposite directions they are perceived to be heading, as well as the injuries and illnesses that are plaguing Chicago.

Minnesota Vikings

SB Nation site: Daily Norseman

Record: 6-7, second in the NFC North

Last week: 36-28 win over the Steelers on Thursday Night Football

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

Bears all-time record against: 57-61-2, including postseason

Historical meetings: This will be the third time the Vikings and Bears play on Dec. 20. Coincidently last year they played on this date.

But back in 2010, the teams met on Monday Night Football, in Minnesota, at TCF Bank Stadium because the Metrodome collapsed.

That’s right, this was Brett Favre’s final game.

Favre got sacked by Corey Wootton in the second quarter after the QB had thrown one touchdown to Percy Harvin and also been intercepted by Julius Peppers.

The Bears then rolled after that intercepting Joe Webb twice and Jay Cutler threw three touchdowns.

A 67-yarder to Johnny Knox in the first quarter, a 15-yarder to Devin Hester and a 9-yarder to Rashied Davis.

Robbie Gould added four field goals and Devin Hester returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown.

Bears won 40-14.

Last meeting: On Dec. 20, in week 15, the Bears beat the Vikings 33-27. David Montgomery scored two touchdowns and had 146 yards rushing. Mitch Trubisky threw a touchdown to Darnell Mooney and Cairo Santos made four field goals.

Injury report: The Vikings had three players on their injury report Thursday

Did not participate:

  • LB Eric Kendricks (lower back)
  • WR Adam Thielen (ankle)

Limited participation:

  • T Christian Darrisaw (ankle)

Offense: The Vikings offense ranks 11th in points and third in yards.

Their passing offense ranks seventh and rushing 10th.

QB Kirk Cousins (66.9 cmp pct/3,569 yds/27 TD/5 INT) is in the midst of one of his best seasons for the 6-7 record.

On the other end of Cousins’ passes are Justin Jefferson (85 rec/1,288 yds/8 TD), Adam Thielen (64/686/10), Tyler Conklin (49/489/3) and K.J. Osborn (38/495/4).

Dalvin Cook (198 att/978 yds/6 TD) is doing most of the work on the ground, with Alexander Mattison (116/432/2) helping out.

Cook has four 100-yard games and is coming off a 205-yard performance against Pittsburgh.

The Vikings have allowed the second-fewest sacks in the league and have the second-fewest offensive turnovers in the league.

Defense: The Vikings defense ranks 25th in points and 29th in yards allowed.

Their passing defense ranks 25th in yards allowed and 27th in rushing.

They do, however, lead the league in sacks with 41.

Despite not having Danielle Hunter or Everson Griffen, they are getting it done with Armon Watts (5 sk/2 FF/3 TFL), Eric Kendricks (5 sk/120 tkls/2 INT/7 TFL), Harrison Smith (3 sk/1 FF/1 INT/3 TFL), Xavier Woods (2 INT/1 sk/9 PD), Bashaud Breeland (2 INT/5 PD/2 FF) and Sheldon Richardson (3 PD/2.5 sk/4 TFL).

The Vikings rank fifth in third down defense, allowing opponents to convert just 35.6 percent of their third downs.

Key match ups: The Bears defense against Dalvin Cook.

Cook makes the Vikings offense work as well. He’s the key cog that helps them go and takes pressure off of Kirk Cousins. Cook didn’t play in their loss to the Lions.

If Roquan Smith and Akiem Hicks are no goes, it’s going to be up to all the other players to slow Cook down.

Jaylon Johnson vs. Justin Jefferson is the other big match up. The Vikings do still have Thielen but Jefferson is an incredible talent and should be treated like Davante Adams was last week. Although, we know how that turned out.

The Bears have to do more to obstruct Jefferson from taking over the game.

On offense, the Bears aren’t going to have an advantage along their offensive line with Larry Borom on the COVID list and Jason Peters banged up.

But the Vikings are also missing some of their pass rushing talent, but in any event the Bears must rely on their running game and utilize moving pockets for Justin Fields.

Key stats

  • Justin Jefferson has five 100-yard games this season and three 140-plus yard games
  • The Vikings rank 31st in yards per carry allowed at 4.7
  • The Vikings are allowed opposing QBs a 94.3 rating, the highest of recent opponents since the Lions
  • Minnesota ranks third in hurry percentage, with 13.1 percent
  • In Expected points by their rushing defense, Minnesota ranks second-to-last with -36.37, the only team worse in that category is the Chargers
  • The Bears and Vikings rank 24th and 25th in points allowed per game
  • The Vikings still have playoff hopes, they’re one game behind the Washington Football Team
  • Matt Nagy is 4-1 against the Vikings

What do the Bears need to do to win on Monday? Can they get it done?