The biggest game of the season is coming up Sunday when the Chicago Bears will be in town to face the Vikings for the second time in as many months. To commemorate the biggest game of the season as well as the recent round of hiring we did at purplePTSD.com/VikingsTerritory.com, we put together a round-table of writer score predictions for Sunday’s game in Minneapolis. Considering our team now numbers in the twenties, let’s hop right into things with the new hires and their opinion(s) on the match-up!
The Vikings have hit the snooze button all season. Unless the Philadelphia Eagles lose or tie Washington Redskins (ESPN currently has the birds with a 57% chance of winning with a 7 point spread), it’s win or go home for the purple and gold. Chicago broke their losing streak against the Vikes (3 games) in Week 11, although the game was close: 25-20. Since then they’ve been crowned division champions. Can Minnesota pull off an upset and guarantee January football?
Over his 15 games this season, quarterback Kirk Cousins has an average stat line of 277.7 passing yards, 1.9 touchdowns, and 0.7 interceptions. If he throws one more end zone pass and doesn’t get picked, he’ll be the first QB in NFL history to have a season with 30+ TDs, 10 or less INTs, over 4000 passing yards, and a completion percentage over 70%. So yeah, he’s pretty good. The problem is the offensive line. Kirk has been privy to almost 2.5 sacks per game, and is tied for the fourth-most fumbles in the league at 9. According to Pro-Football-Reference, the Bears defense is second best in rushing yards allowed, so the revived Minnesota run game won’t be much help. Chicago allowed only 22 rushing yards in the previous meeting between the two teams. The game will rely on Cousins, who will still face the eighth-best passing yards allowed defense in the league.
Despite missing a couple games due to injury, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been dominant. In his 14 games this season, Trubisky has an average stat line of 235.4 passing yards, 1.8 touchdowns, 0.9 interceptions, and 1.8 sacks; he’ll have no problem going toe-to-toe with Captain Kirk. The good news is that Minnesota has the third-best defense in passing yards allowed, and best overall in touchdowns allowed (only 15 all season). The Vikings defense against the rush is decent at eleventh in the league, but is still a force to be reckoned with.
Overall, it will be a battle of quarterbacks. The game will go the better gunslinger who has more time in the pocket. In this case, I think it will sway in the Vikings favor. While they did lose to Chicago in Week 11, the run game has improved dramatically with the firing of Offensive Coordinator John DeFilipo, and the team is stacked with talented receivers. With home team advantage and everything on the line, the purple and gold will find a way to come out on top.
Minnesota 24, Chicago 17.
The last time Minnesota faced Chicago, they were held scoreless until there were 7 seconds left in the third quarter. That was a completely different team then the one that has shown up the last two weeks, in which the Vikings scored a combined 68 points. One of the biggest changes with the squad, along with the firing of John DeFilippo, has been the ability to run the ball, something that wasn’t happening last time in Chicago where the Vikings only ran for 22 yards all game.
This is the final test for the Vikings this regular season, and unless something crazy happens, their last home game of the year. This gives Minnesota a huge advantage if the team can start fast and get the crowd into the game. The home fans want to see a victory and have this team’s investment of $84-million into Quarterback Kirk Cousins pay off. The Bank will be rocking on Sunday and this may just be too much for Bear’s Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who was shaky last time that Minnesota played Chicago. In that game Trubisky threw for just 165 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions, but his defense bailed him out and they got the win.
In this final NFC North matchup of the year, it’s going to come down to who can control the game and sustain drives. Both defenses are stellar, but if one team can stay on the field longer, they should win this thing. With the Vikings new found running game, a hungry defense, and the crowd behind them with the playoffs on the line, I think they pull this one out in an exciting fashion, perhaps including a Dan Bailey field goal to win.
Score Prediction: Minnesota 20, Chicago 17
The Bears come to US Bank Stadium this Sunday to wrap up the season in a very important Week 17 matchup. Our first outing finished 20-25 with the Vikings taking the loss. The Vikings offense struggled most of the game despite the score looking close. Khalil Mack forced a fumble at the end of the first quarter, Cousins ended our chance of scoring before halftime with an interception, as well as a gut wrenching pick six in the fourth quarter, all but ending any hope of winning.
The Vikings defense faired a bit better. Trubisky looked like his normal self when throwing, mixing in some erratic throws with the good ones. Anthony Harris picked him off twice in the game and the Vikings defense recovered a fumble by Tarik Cohen. The defense had a bit of trouble containing Trubisky when he got out of the pocket as well as the misdirection runs and motion used by the Chicago offense.
In Sunday’s game I believe it will be very important to not waste our redzone opportunities and settle for field goals, as well as limiting our turnovers. According to PFF, Chicago has the number one ranked rush defense in the NFL currently. Instead of running the ball directly into Chicago’s interior defensive linemen like we did in our first meeting, we need to continue with our outside zone runs, tosses, and maybe even a few jet sweeps with Diggs. I think we will see a mix of heavier sets with fullbacks and tightends, as well as some runs from the shotgun against Chicago’s nickel defense.
Defensively I think we have a good chance to force some more errors on Trubisky’s part. It is no secret that he will throw the other team the ball and a few terrible passes every game. I think we need to blitz Trubisky more than we normally blitz and hope it forces some interceptions or turnovers. PFF has Trubisky with a passer rating of 63.7 when not blitzed, but 37.6 when he is blitzed. Our defense also had a rough time dealing with a lot of the motion and misdirection the first time around; I do not expect that to be the case this deep into the season though.
This game is must win for the Vikings and I believe we shot ourselves in the foot in our first meeting. I predict a very close game that will not be decided until the end with a 21-17 Vikings victory.
The Vikings-Bears rematch should be closer than their previous game this season. But will it be enough for the Vikings to pull out a win?
In week 11, playing outdoors at Soldier Field threw the Vikings offensive gameplan into a tailspin. The Bears were able to lock down Minnesota’s rushing attack to a total of 17 yards on designed runs, and cold-weather games generally make it harder to pass the ball. In effect, Kirk Cousins was operating a one-dimensional offense with weather related disadvantages, and this is before factoring in playing in a stadium full of loud opposing fans. On Sunday, US Bank Stadium will be a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit with no precipitation. This should help the passing game and make the opposing defense pay more attention to long routes by Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, which will also open up the run game.
In that same matchup, Chicago Quarterback Mitch Trubisky was limited to 165 yards passing while no Bears running back gained more than 63 yards. However, the Vikings had a hard time getting the Bears off of the field when they could not get turnovers. The Bears had 24 first downs in week 11, four of which were from quarterback scrambles (five if you count Harrison Smith’s unnecessary roughness penalty in the 4th quarter). Trubisky was also escaping the pass rush even when he wasn’t taking off with the ball himself, and the Vikings recorded only one sack because of it. The Vikings hope their fans and home field advantage can help their defense put more pressure on the Bears passing attack.
I have my doubts. I don’t expect Dalvin Cook to have another monster game like he did against the Miami Dolphins at home, as the Bears still have one of the league’s best rushing defenses, giving up an average of 81.1 yards a game. While 81 yards is better than the 12 yards Dalvin Cook had in their prior matchup, it likely wouldn’t be enough for a victory. I’ve also seen this Minnesota defense lose messy games to mobile quarterbacks all season – from Josh Allen at home to Russell Wilson on Monday Night. If the Vikings hope to win, they will need Cook and the Defensive Line to over perform when they are needed the most. Otherwise, expect the Bears to leave Minnesota with another win on their record.
This isn’t just another important divisional game, this game is pretty much a playoff game for the Vikings. I am expecting them to come out fast and hard playing at home in U.S. Bank Stadium. The Bears could potentially be fighting for a 2 seed in the playoffs if they beat the Vikings and the Rams lose this week.
Obviously the Bears have a great defense. We’re all hoping for Kevin Stefanski to come up with a good gameplan for the week and have a fast start so we can play with a lead. The Vikings offense doesn’t need to score a lot of points if their defense plays well. The offense needs to utilize Dalvin Cook heavily, running and catching the ball. They should have him coming out of the backfield for routes and lined on the outside as a receiver. Similar to what the Patriots did against the Bears in week 7. Except the Vikings should still be using more heavier personnel and double team Khalil Mack.
The defense needs to limit their penalties and play very similar to how they played the Seahawks. Contain Trubisky so he can’t use his running ability to get yardage and play tight coverage. If they can allow 20 points or less and produce a turnover, the team should be looking good.
My prediction is 24-20 Vikings win. The Vikings are going to have to limit big mistakes and have success on 3rd downs. Good game plan or not, they have to play well. Let’s go Vikes!
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