The Minnesota Vikings are only hours away from their season finale against the Chicago Bears. After a disheartening loss to the Green Bay Packers last week, many fans were hoping the Kirk Cousins-led offense would bounce back and maul the Bears at home. However, multiple reports say Cousins and some of the starters will sit against Chicago, so that probably won’t be the case. Without Cousins, let’s look at what the Vikings have to lose, and why fans should be excited to see backup Sean Mannion take the reigns.
Same game, different season
It isn’t supposed to happen like this, but the NFL has now scheduled a week 17 Vikings vs. Bears matchup for four years in a row. Aside from last year, this game always seems to be a snooze-fest where the Vikings have nothing to play for. In the past, Minnesota has either already been eliminated from the playoffs, or they were in the playoffs with next to no chance to improve their positioning. This year we’re seeing the latter, and there is literally zero chance of changing their destiny. The Vikings have earned the 6th-seed in the playoffs, regardless of tomorrow’s outcome.
Winning only hurts draft pick
In any sport, winning is rarely a bad thing. Surprisingly, the Vikings could actually hurt themselves by beating the Bears. A win would only worsen the team’s draft pick this coming April, while a loss doesn’t seem to come with any consequences. Fans might as well hope the team plays well, but somehow ends up losing by a small margin. Talk about a weird game!
Chance to see Mannion
Some questions on the Vikings roster have been answered over the course of the season, but there is still a big mystery yet to be solved. Meet Sean Mannion. He doesn’t get talked about much, but the former third-round pick is second in command after Kirk Cousins. Normally, nobody wants to see the backup quarterback in action, as it would mean that the starter, aka the $84 million man, went down. This strange Sunday matchup will be a rare opportunity for Mannion to see some action sans injury to Cousins, and it will be invaluable for the Vikings front office as they approach the offseason.
Having hardly played since being drafted by the Rams, Mannion’s floor, ceiling, and current talent level is somewhat unknown. If he plays and performs well against the Bears, Minnesota may be more inclined to steer away from the draft and towards giving their current backup another contract this offseason. If Mannion plays poorly, I doubt he wears purple for another season. If you’re looking for a reason not to sell your tickets, or just to tune in to the game via TV or radio, this should be reason number one.