Bears vs. Vikings: What Is There To Play For?
This is a game that technically has zero meaning for both teams since the Chicago Bears are eliminated from playoff contention and the Minnesota Vikings are locked into the sixth seed, but with the way the 2018 season ended I could see the Vikings wanting to make a statement against the Bears as they close out the year and ready themselves for a wildcard playoff game.
Last season with the Bears locked into their playoff spot and the Vikings needing a win to clinch a wildcard game, Chicago went to Minnesota and crushed the Vikes’ hopes in dominating fashion, 24 to 10. But 2018 seems like a long, long, long time ago for the Bears as this version is playing about as bad as could be as they limp to the finish line of 2019.
To make matters even worse, everything that needed to happen for the Bears to make this final contest be their “win and get into the postseason game” happened, except of course for the Bears winning their last two games.
What could have been...
The Bears’ 2019 season will forever be known for missed opportunities, but now they have one last chance to give the franchise some good vibes as they head into the offseason and try to avoid their fifth losing season in the last six years.
Standing in Chicago’s way could be the backups of the Vikings, because with a wildcard road game on the horizon against the NFC East winner (either the Dallas Cowboys or the Philadelphia Eagles) the Vikes number one concern should be the health of their top players.
Whether or not the Vikings play Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, etc., they’ll be playing with a chip on their shoulder looking to avenge last season’s walloping at the hands of the Bears. Even though Chicago, led by back up QB Chase Daniel, took care of Minnesota way back on week four, these two teams went in different directions since that game, with the Vikings winning their next 4 while Chicago dropped their next 4. The Bears were never able to recover from the hole they dug themselves into, but a win on Sunday will at least even their record at 8-8.
Both of these teams have defenses that rank in the top 10 of Football Outsiders’ DVOA with the Bears at nine and the Vikings at seven, but it’s on offense where the big disparity lies. Chicago’s O, led by QB Mitchell Trubisky has stumbled the last two games and are currently at 25th in offensive DVOA, while the Vikes are 10th.
Now a lot depends on if it’s Cousins pulling the trigger for Minnesota or if it’s five year pro Sean Mannion at quarterback, but with as bad as Chicago has looked offensively the second stringers from Minnesota could have enough gumption to give the Bears a fight.
One thing’s for certain, the Vikings want to get back on the winning track before the playoff tournament starts.
The Bears could also elect to sit some starters themselves as last week saw them keep defensive lineman Akiem Hicks inactive and they split time at corner with Prince Amukamara and reserve Kevin Toliver II. Starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman left the Chiefs game with concussion symptoms and could be held out this week as well. On offense, the Bears lost starting right guard Rashaad Coward to a knee injury last week, which opens the door for undrafted free agent rookie Alex Bars to see some reps on the o-line against the Vikings.
The luster may be off of this week 17 match-up, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to play for.
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