The Vikings have a potent offense, led by new head coach Kevin O’Connell, with Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson.
The Bears are reeling, seemingly finding their bearings where many thought they would be before the season started.
The Bears haven’t visited Minnesota this early in the season since 2009 and they haven’t played in Minneapolis earlier than November since 2006.
For those traveling, that might mean enjoying the city of Minneapolis without snow and below-zero temperatures.
Let’s dive in and see what these Vikings are all about.
SB Nation site: Daily Norseman
Record: 3-1, first in the NFC North
Last week: 28-25 win over the New Orleans Saints in London
Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX
Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Vikings are favored by 7 points. The total is set at 44 points.
Bears all-time record against: 57-63-2 including 1-0 postseason
Historical meetings: The last time the Bears traveled to Minnesota for a game before November, was week 3 of 2006.
On Sept. 24, 2006, the Bears put their 2-0 record on the line against the 2-0 Vikings.
The teams traded field goals until the first play of the fourth quarter when Antoine Winfield returned a Rex Grossman pick seven yards for a touchdown.
Grossman responded by leading a 10-play, 43 yard drive that ended with a Robbie Gould field goal.
Following another Vikings field goal and Bears punt, Adewale Ogunleye recovered a Bethel Johnson fumble at the Vikings’ 37-yard line.
Five plays later, just after the 2-minute warning, Grossman hit Rashied Davis for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Bears went on to win 19-16.
Last meeting: Week 18 last season, the Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead and then managed just three points the rest of the game.
Patrick Peterson capped the Vikings 31-17 win with a 66-yard pick six of Andy Dalton.
Injury report: The Vikings had just three players on their Wednesday injury report. Two were limited and one was a full participant.
- CB Andrew Booth (quad)
- OLB Za’Darius Smith (knee)
Offense: The Vikings offense comes into this game ranked 15th in points and 17th in yards.
Their passing offense ranks 13th and their rushing offense ranks 22nd.
Kirk Cousins (63.1 pct cmp/1,031 yds/6 TD/4 INT) is still himself. He’s got weapons too, with Justin Jefferson (28 rec/393 yds/2 TD), Adam Thielen (21/221/1), K.J. Osborn (11/118/1) and TE Irv Smith (10/91/1).
On the ground, he has Dalvin Cook (63 att/279 yds/1) and Alexander Mattison (20/75/1).
Defense: The Vikings defense comes into this week ranked 12th in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed.
Their passing offense ranks 26th and their rushing defense ranks 23rd.
The Vikings unit has some familiar names and some new ones.
Jordan Hicks (38 tkls/1 FF/2 PD/1 INT), Harrison Smith (1 INT/26 tkls/1 PD), Eric Kendricks (3 PD/31 tkls) and Danielle Hunter (1 sk/1 PD/2 TFL/1 QB hits) are all playing well.
Plus they’re getting more from Za’Darius Smith (3 sks/6 TFL/5 QB hits), D.J. Wonnum (2 sk/3 RFL/4 QB hits), Cameron Dantzler (4 PD/22 tkls/2 TFL) and Patrick Peterson (4 PD/17 tkls/1 TFL).
Key match-ups: This is arguably the worst passing defense that the Bears have faced and, statistically, the worst defense overall that they’ve faced.
That might mean a better match-up for Justin Fields and his wide receivers.
Cameron Dantzler is allowing 97 QB rating when targeted and has allowed 76.9 percent of the passes targeted at him to be completed.
Speaking of weak links though, with Jaylon Johnson possibly missing another game, Justin Jefferson is going to get a chance to test rookie Kyler Gordon, who we know has struggled so far this season.
Compared to the Giants, who lead the league in blitz percentage, the Vikings rank sixth fewest. Although I wonder if Minnesota rethinks their typical game plan after seeing Chicago’s OL struggles a week ago.
- The Vikings defense ranks 25th in net yards per pass attempt. This is the worst of any Bears opponent so far this season.
- Their defense ranks 25th in Football Outsiders DVOA, which is one spot ahead of Houston.
- Minnesota has allowed opposing offenses the eighth-most yards after the catch. The Bears have allowed the ninth-fewest.
- Justin Jefferson has 393 yards, 102 yards more than all of Chicago’s wide receivers combined.
- Jefferson has 28 receptions, just six fewer than the Bears as a team and 13 more than Bears receivers have.
- Kirk Cousins has 90 more pass attempts than Justin Fields but has been sacked nine fewer times. The Vikings have run 35 more offensive plays than the Bears have.
- The Vikings offense ranks 28th on third down conversions and 25th in red zone conversions. The Bears, for comparison, rank 26th and 23rd, respectively.
- Only one QB has been pressured on a higher percentage of his dropbacks than Fields and that’s Daniel Jones. Only three QBs have scrambled on more of their designed pass plays (per Pro-Football-Reference) than Fields; Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen and Jones.
What has to happen for the Bears to pull off an upset against the Vikings Sunday? Will the offense perform better against a middle-of-the-pack defense?