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Week 6 game preview: Minnesota Vikings

This is a battle for the NFC North basement

Kansas City Chiefs v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears come into this week’s divisional game against the Minnesota Vikings fresh off 10 days of rest.

They’re looking to string together a second-straight win and the Vikings seem capable of allowing that. Or not.

The Vikings aren’t as plucky as last year’s team but they aren’t getting blown out.

This game could truly go either way, so let’s get into it.

Minnesota Vikings

SB Nation site: Daily Norseman

Record: 1-4

Last week: 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs

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

Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bears are 2.5-point underdogs to the VIkings. The total for the game is 44.5.

Bears all-time record against: 57-65-2 (including postseason)

Historical meetings: Week 6, 2011. The 1-4 Vikings came to Soldier Field to face the 2-3 Bears.

The Bears jumped out to a 16-point first quarter lead on the back of a Jay Cutler-to-Devin Hester 48-yard score, a sack of Donovan McNabb for a safety and a Marion Barber touchdown.

The Bears didn’t slow down from there. After a Ryan Longwell field goal, Cutler found Dane Sanzenbacher for a 13-yard score and Robbie Gould tacked on a field goal and Chicago took a commanding 26-3 lead into halftime.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Jared Allen sacked Cutler and forced a fumble that Minnesota recovered.

Six plays later, Adrian Peterson ran the ball in for a score.

Hester returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

The Bears rolled to a 39-10 win.

Last meeting: Week 18, last season. The Bears did their part to make sure they got that number one overall pick.

Nathan Peterman started and Tim Boyle even saw some action.

Minnesota took a 16-0 lead before Velus Jones took a jet sweep 42 yards for a score.

The Vikings cruised to a 29-13 win.

Injury report: The Vikings had three players on their Wednesday injury report.

Limited participation

  • WR Jordan Addison (ankle)
  • LB Marcus Davenport (elbow)
  • CB Akayleb Evans (knee)

Offense: The Vikings offense comes into the game ranked 16th in points and ninth in yards.

Their passing offense ranks second and their rushing offense ranks 29th.

Kirk Cousins (67.2 pct. cmp./1,498 yds./13 TD/4 INT) is being himself, playing above average but still making costly mistakes. He has five fumbles on the season to go with his four picks.

As a team, the Vikings have lost eight fumbles, most in the league and overall their 12 turnovers is the second-most in the NFL.

Without Justin Jefferson (hamstring), Cousins’ main targets are T.J. Hockenson (30 rec./254 yds./2 TD), Jordan Addison (19/249/3), K.J. Osborn (13/166/2), and Alexander Mattison (14/76/2).

Running back Mattison (64 att./276 yds./0 TD) leads the way on the ground and trade acquisition Cam Akers (10/55/0) gets in work, too.

The Vikings have no rushing touchdowns yet this season.

Defense: The Vikings defense enters week 6 ranked 23rd in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed.

Their passing defense ranks 22nd and their rushing defense ranks 13th.

Up front Danielle Hunter (6 sk./5 QB hits/9 TFL/1 FF) is producing with help from OLB Marcus Davenport (2 sk/4 QB hits/2 TFL) and D.J. Wonnum (1 sk./1 PD/4 QB hits/1 TFL).

Safety Harrison Smith (3 sk./1 FF/38 tkls.) is still being productive. Cornerbacks are Byron Murphy (22 tkls/4 PD) and Akayleb Evans (25 tkls/3 PD/1 FF).

The only Viking with an interception this season is safety Theo Jackson (1 INT/1 PD).

Starting safety Camryn Bynum (51 tkls./2 TFL/2 PD/1 FF) and Jordan Hicks (43 tkls./2 TFL/1 PD/1 FF) lead Minnesota in tackles.

Key matchups: This is a game for DJ Moore to pick up where he left off. The Vikings’ top two cornerbacks are both allowing a passer rating of over 100 and over a 70 percent completion rate.

Justin Fields and his receiving corps should find some openings, as the Vikings have struggled against the pass overall.

The offensive line is going to have to carry over their performance from last Thursday, too. Minnesota leads the league in blitz percentage at 56.2 percent. That said though, their pressure percentage ranks 21st and they rank 16th in sacks.

The Chicago defense also needs to go for the football. The Vikings have the second-most turnovers in the league and lead the league in fumbles. This is a prime game for the Bears’ defense to start getting takeaways in bunches.

Without Justin Jefferson, this Minnesota passing game should look different. The defensive line needs to stay stout against the run though. Minnesota has struggled to run the ball and if they can establish it, it will help take the pressure off of Kirk and what should be a hampered passing game.

Don’t forget to cover T.J. Hockenson though, who is an above-average TE. But without Jefferson being there for Kirk to at least have a chance to chuck it over to, there should be more chances for Kirk to get uncomfortable and take sacks.

Key stats

  • Justin Jefferson accounts for 38.1 percent of Cousins’ passing yards. He accounts for 23 percent of the Vikings’ touchdowns and 16 percent of the teams’ total points.
  • The Vikings pass defense’s numbers aren’t great but their yards-per completion is fourth in the league, among the lowest. So while they give up yards, they aren’t really giving up huge chunks.
  • Minnesota’s defense has allowed opposing receivers the most catches and yards in the league.
  • The only team with more passing yards and passing touchdowns than Minnesota is Miami.
  • The Vikings have zero rushing touchdowns on the season.
  • Minnesota’s red zone defense ranks 29th. Opponents are scoring on 69.2 percent of their trips inside the 20.
  • The Bears are on a four-game losing streak to the Vikings.
  • Chicago is in the midst of a nine-game home losing streak going back to week three last season when they beat Houston.
  • The Bears have lost 10 straight division games going back to week 12 2021 (Thanksgiving). (h/t Jeff Berckes for these)

Can the Bears win two in a row for the first time since weeks 16 and 17 in 2021? What will it take for Chicago to get a victory Sunday?