The Minnesota Vikings used a victory over the Chicago Bears to ignite an eight-game winning streak that sent the team on its way toward the NFC North title. The Vikings have even bigger fish to fry on Sunday, as they’ll bid to secure a first-round bye with a victory over the visiting Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I think this is the first time in my career where you can officially say this game counts as more than one,” Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “... This week counts as two wins, essentially. If we can go out and get a win, it guarantees us that we get next week off.” The Vikings are bidding for their fourth season sweep of the Bears since 2000, although they could also receive a first-round bye if Carolina falls to Atlanta. Chicago has won two of three in what has been another difficult season under the watch of John Fox, who has heard rumblings about his job after posting a 14-33 mark at the helm in the Windy City. “I don’t worry about it. I’ve never had trouble getting employment in this league and I‘m not going to start worrying about it now,” Fox said.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Vikings -11.5. O/U: 39.5
ABOUT THE BEARS (5-10): Rookie Mitchell Trubisky believes there is a night-and-day difference from when he made his NFL debut against Minnesota in Week 5 until now. “In every area ... leadership ... just reading defenses,” the second overall pick said. “Preparation ... how to carry yourself as a pro and just getting comfortable within this offense is probably the main thing (I’ve done). Just letting the game slow down and just playing, instead of thinking.” Trubisky completed just 12 of 25 passes for 128 yards with a touchdown and one interception in the first meeting, but has settled in to throw for a franchise rookie-best 2,015 yards.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (12-3): Jerick McKinnon totaled his second-best career total in scrimmage yards with 146 in the previous encounter with Chicago, highlighted by a 55-yard touchdown run. Fellow running back Latavius Murray stepped in for flashy rookie Dalvin Cook and had 12 carries for 31 yards before slowly taking the reins in the backfield. A potent running game and stifling defense helped Case Keenum emerge victorious despite completing just 14 of 25 for 139 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s 16-0 win over Green Bay. Stefon Diggs found the end zone in back-to-back weeks, but was limited to just one catch for four yards in the previous meeting with the Bears.
1. Minnesota S Harrison Smith was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording two interceptions versus Green Bay.
2. Chicago RB Jordan Howard, who has an NFL fifth-best 1,113 rushing yards, ran for two touchdowns last week and has 262 scrimmage yards and four rushing TDs in his past three games.
3. Vikings DE Everson Griffen has recorded six of his career-high 13 sacks in his past seven home games.
PREDICTION: Vikings 24, Bears 14