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Week 18 Game Preview: Bears vs Vikings

The tank game? Minnesota has reasons to play...Chicago does not.

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Kayla Wolf/Getty Images

For the fifth time in six years, the Chicago Bears play the Minnesota Vikings in the final game of the season.

Unlike the previous five times, this week is at Soldier Field.

Unfortunately for the home fans, there isn’t a ton to get excited about. It’s January in Chicago, the Bears have three wins and their starting quarterback is out.

Oh and the Vikings have 12 wins and are looking to lock into the highest seed they can.

This isn’t likely to be a game to remember.

Minnesota Vikings

SB Nation site: Daily Norseman

Record: 12-4, first in NFC North

Last week: 41-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX

Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Vikings are 7-point favorites over Chicago. The total is set at 43.

Bears all-time record against: 56-64-2 regular season, 1-0 postseason

Historical meetings: In week 17 of the 2016 season, the three-win Bears went to Minnesota looking to end the season on a high note.

Matt Barkley was starting for the injured Jay Cutler. The Bears fell behind 17-0 as Sam Bradford threw two early touchdown passes and Barkley threw a pick in the endzone.

But in the second quarter, Barkley got them back inside the 10 and the Bears ran the original Philly Special. Doug Pederson admitted as much after the Super Bowl made the play famous.

The Bears would kick a field goal before halftime, but not before a muffed punt by Bralon Addison allowed another short field and a touchdown for Minnesota.

The Bears turned the ball over a total of five times, including three from Barkley (two interceptions and a fumble). They lost 38-10. David Fales ended up entering the game toward the end.

Chicago finished 3-13 and held the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The rest, as they say...

Last meeting: Way back in week five, the Bears went down 21-3 and all seemed lost.

But then, the Bears rose up to the moment. Justin Fields started playing better and the defense covered Justin Jefferson effectively.

The Bears scored 19 straight points to take a 22-21 lead. But the Vikings went on a seven-minute, 75-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a Kirk Cousins one-yard touchdown run.

Justin Fields got the ball back with a chance to drive down the field but former Viking Ihmir Smith-Marsette caught a pass and instead of going out of bounds, tried to turn upfield for more yards. His former teammate, Cameron Dantzler said after the game, “we kind of had intel that he’d be loose with the ball.” Dantzler forced the ball out of Smith-Marette’s hand and it was game over.

Injury report: The Vikings listed just four players on their Wednesday injury report.


  • LB Brian Asamoah (knee)
  • FS Josh Metellus (thigh)

Did not participate

  • C Garrett Bradbury (back)
  • NT James Lynch (shoulder)

Offense: The Minnesota Vikings come into this week ranked eighth in points and 12th in yards.

Their passing offense ranks fifth and their rushing offense ranks 27th.

Kirk Cousins (65.3 pct. cmp./4,322 yds./28 TD/14 INT) is still dealing with help from Justin Jefferson (124 rec./1,771 yds./8 TD), Adam Thielen (68/708/5), T.J. Hockenson (59/503/3), and K.J. Osborn (55/533/5).

On the ground Dalvin Cook (253 att./1,136 yds./8 TD) and Alexander Mattison (64/229/3) do all the damage.

Jefferson, if you recall, had 154 yards in the first meeting of these teams. And that’s when Jaylon Johnson was healthy. Cook had 94 yards and two touchdowns.

Defense: The Vikings defense comes into the final week ranked 31st in yards and points allowed.

The Vikings passing defense ranks 31st, while their rushing defense ranks 20th.

In the first meeting, the Vikings held the Bears to 271 yards of offense, the second-lowest amount of the season the unit has had.

Eric Kendricks (124 tkls/1 sack/8 TFL/6 PD), Jordan Hicks (127 tkls/3 sk/1 INT/1 FF), Harrison Smith (88 tkls/10 PD/5 INT) and Patrick Peterson (64 tkls/14 PD/4 INT/3 TFL) are flying around making plays.

Up front, Danielle Hunter (10.5 sk/22 QB hits/12 TFL/1 FF), Za’Darius Smith (10 sk/2 FF/24 QB hits/15 TFL/5 PD) and D.J. Wonnum (4 sk/10 QB hits/5 TFL) are the main pass rushers.

Key matchups: I don’t really see one advantage on paper that the Bears have over the Vikings this week.

The receivers are so depleted that I can’t even see them finding room against the second-worst passing defense in the league. The offensive line is so bad, I can’t imagine that they can slow down Danielle Hunter or Za’Darius Smith and it’s not like Nathan Peterman has any of Justin Fields’s escapability.

Kyler Gordon is going to draw the main task of slowing down Jefferson, but that’s not exactly something that happens very often. Although, Jaire Alexander had a very good day against him last week.

Slow down Dalvin Cook, slow down Justin Jefferson and maybe you have a chance to force Cousins into making mistakes and turning the ball over, but you need a pass rush for that.

Key stats

  • The Vikings have allowed the fifth-most sacks in the league with 47. Cousins has been sacked seven times twice this season (against the Cowboys and the Colts). Fields has only been sacked seven times once this year (last week).
  • In their first game this year, the Bears sacked Cousins once.
  • The Bears have lost three straight to the Vikings. They haven’t had a four-game losing streak to Minnesota since 1997-1998.
  • Among NFC North opponents, David Montgomery has the best per-game average against the Vikings. He’s averaged 77.3 yards per game and scored four touchdowns against them.
  • Montgomery, since week 12 against the Jets, is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. In the first 11 weeks of the season (10 games for Montgomery, he missed one), he averaged 3.3 YPC.
  • The Vikings are allowing the second-highest yards per kick return average in the league.
  • Minnesota ranks ninth in both kick return yards against and punt return yards against.
  • The Vikings are allowing the third-most yards per play in the NFL (5.9), just behind Chicago (6.1), who trail the Lions (6.3). The Packers are just behind the Vikings (5.8). The NFC North is the worst division in terms of yards per play allowed.
  • Despite ranking 31st in passing yards allowed, opposing QBs rank just 10th in passer rating against the Vikings, one spot worse than Chicago. This might have to do with their third-most passes defended in the league.
  • Minnesota ranks 11th in defensive takeaways.
  • Nathan Peterman averages one interception for every 11 pass attempts in his career.

Are you going to bother watching the game this week or are you watching the Colts-Texans game? Do you even want a win at this point?