Another historic NFC North rivalry continues on Sunday, as the Chicago Bears visit the Minnesota Vikings. Vikings fans should be looking forward to this game, because if it goes how the vast majority think, they should be taking home a rather easy win. However, division games can always get weird, so let’s take a look at what each team has going for them – and what they won’t.
The Bears still don’t really have much going in the passing game. It looked a little better last week, but they are really suffering from a lack of efficient wide receivers and a still developing quarterback. On the other hand, the run game has continued to look very solid, and the Bears might even get their number one running back David Montgomery back, who has been out for two weeks with an ankle injury.
On the other side of the ball, Chicago’s defense has had some ups and downs. On one hand, the usual stars such as All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith, have played well. Safety Eddie Jackson also seems to be back in his 2018 season form, already netting four interceptions this season. This bodes well for this week, because Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins does like to turn the ball over. These are the only bright spots for the Bears. The run defense has been rather lacking, and the success of Vikings RB Dalvin Cook and the team’s effective use of play-action passing is going to be hard to combat. The Bears top corner-back, Jaylon Johnson, is unlikely to play, meaning the Bears backfield is made up of players who have been struggling recently. Vikings fans have a good chance of seeing their superstar WR Justin Jefferson light up the Bears.
The Vikings had an effective four weeks so far, going 3-1 and beating two division opponents. If they win this week, they’ll have a 1-0 start against every other NFC North team. While some of their advantages have been covered above, another big advantage for the Vikings, other than playing at home, is that their injury report is relatively clean. They are able to play with almost all of their main starters, the only caveat being outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who has been nursing a knee injury. He is expected to play, but might be a bit limited in terms of production. The final thing for the Vikings is that while the Bears have won five of their last eight games against each other, the Vikings swept the Bears last year.
The bottom line is that the Vikings have almost all the advantages here. It is expected for them to win this game. The only way the Bears could succeed is if the passing game has magically been fixed, or if the defense is able to force turnovers. It really feels like the only chance for Chicago to win is if they manage to take away Minnesota’s ability to pass well, which is unlikely given the lack of skilled defensive backs.
24 – 13 Vikings