The Sunday night matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field will have a really large impact on the outcome of the NFC North. The Vikings come into this game as winners of 4 of their last 5 games. Their only loss in that period coming to the Saints. The Bears are coming into the game riding a 3-game win streak and a constantly improving offense.
The Vikings’ were without Stefon Diggs 2 weeks ago in their last game. This did clearly make their offense worse, but he should be 100% coming off of the bye week. Dalvin Cook should also be at the healthiest he has been since the start of training camp after slowly working his way back. 2 weeks ago, Cook was on an undisclosed snap count and got 10 rushes and 4 catches out of the backfield, which was more than most people expected. Latavius Murray was rather productive while Cook was out, so I am not sure if they will instantly revert to Cook being the bell-cow back or not.
The Vikings’ defense has been pretty two-sided this season. They really haven’t lost anyone from last years’ team that would be of note, but at times they have looked bad. Recently, however, their defense has been more impressive besides the Saints’ game, but that was almost to be expected. This is one of the biggest games of the season for the Vikings and a win on the road would vault them into first place in the division with an eventual home game vs. the Bears assuming that the Lions and Packers do not turn it around drastically. A loss would put them in a tough spot that would basically not allow them to control their own destiny in their division.
The Bears are probably the surprise team of the year for many. Going into the season, the narrative surrounding the Bears was mostly about Matt Nagy. Could the Bears be the new Rams? They hired a young offensive head coach, they have a top draft pick at QB in his second year that struggled under the old regime. They traded for a dominant defensive lineman. Jordan Howard was considered a solid RB option and they signed a #1 WR and an athletic TE. The answer to this question is sitting at “probably” through 9 games. The Bears’ personnel is not this talented, but the coach is creating a playbook that helps Trubisky gain yards and make easy decisions. Some weeks, we see Tarik Cohen get 10 targets, other weeks it’s Allen Robinson.
They have 2 capable threats out of the backfield and 3 WRs that I believe are only improving week after week in this offense. Anthony Miller, a rookie, has been very impressive recently while barely being able to raise his hands above his head. The Bears’ defense is one of, if not, the best in football. The defense has gotten a lot of pressure on the QB, forced turnovers, scored touchdowns on special teams and off of turnovers and all of this helps a young offense out a lot. This team has rarely been playing catch-up all year and that is great for a second-year QB.
This game should be a defensive battle for the most part, as both teams really pride themselves on the defensive end. It is hard for me to take such a young offense vs. a talented veteran defense like the Vikings but that is what I am going to do. Matt Nagy is the best decision maker in this game and when 2 elite defenses face off, I want the team that will exploit whatever situations they feel are the best. Nagy and the Bears’ offense have been doing this all year and I think that is the difference in this game. Give me the Bears (-2.5).