3 Vikings Who Need Big Games against Chicago
Sunday sees a showdown of divisional foes who share a 1-4 record through five games. The Vikings and the Bears will meet at Soldier Field in the last chance saloon, as the victors will hope for a spark to ignite a playoff push. Three Vikings need big games against Chicago, and they are all on offense.
3 Vikings Who Need Big Games against Chicago
The Vikings defense needs to control a Bears offense that has found a groove in recent weeks. After managing just 20, 17, and 10 points in their first three games, the Justin Fields-led Bears blew a 28-7 lead against the Denver Broncos.
The love affair between Fields and Chicago looked in danger of being over but was back on last week as Fields avoided an implosion and led Chicago to their first win — notching up an impressive 40 points for the first time since Week 16 of the 2020 season. Offseason acquisition D.J. Moore showed he could be the wide receiver to help Fields take his passing game up a level, with 230 yards and three touchdowns against Washington last week.
The Bears have an entire roster worth of running backs out injured, but the Vikings must account for Fields’ ability to run the ball while not letting Moore take over the game as he did last week. Then, the Vikings offense needs to produce against a Bears defense that has given up 157 points through five games. Without Justin Jefferson to lead the charge, the Vikings will look to their playmakers to get the job done. Three Vikings need to have big games in Chicago if the Vikings are going to bring home win number two.
Jordan Addison has done an excellent job working in the shadows of Jefferson, with 249 receiving yards and three touchdowns from his first five games in the NFL. He has shown the ability to be the Vikings big play threat down the field while also showing prowess in the short passing game to move the chains and being a red zone threat — with his excellent touchdown catch against the Chiefs last week. His role needed to be increased, and now, with Jefferson facing an extended absence from the team, a new challenge will posed to Addison.
In just his sixth game, Addison will assume the mantle of WR1 for the Vikings. He has already surpassed K.J. Osborn, who has had a disappointing start to the season. Vikings fans who have looked to Jefferson for the last three seasons are now pinning their hopes on Addison. How will the rookie cope? Addison is a first-round talent full of confidence, and I’d expect him to step up in this situation.
He might garner extra attention from a defense that won’t focus on Jefferson for the first time in his short career. Showing he can handle that and shoulder a heavy workload is the next step in the rookie’s progression. If he succeeds on Sunday, Addison will quickly become the real deal at the receiver position.
The only win this season for the Vikings came on their best day on the ground when rushing for 135 yards. Coincidence? It happened to be a game against the only team that hasn’t won this season, but the Vikings offense has been too unbalanced this season. The Vikings ran the ball well against the Panthers and the Chargers the week before.
However, against the Chiefs last week, it was back to being somewhat of an afterthought. Alexander Mattison is getting the finger of blame for the Vikings running game word. While I don’t think that’s completely fair, he certainly needs a performance worthy of a lead running back.
Mattison averages 4.3 yards per carry this season, slightly above his career average of 4.2 yards. Most disappointingly, there have been no rushing touchdowns from the Vikings this season, and the run game down by the goal line has been awful.
He does have two receiving touchdowns to his name, but the passing game has also been the source of problems. There have been some bad drops from the Vikings RB to accompany Mattison’s part in the fumble problems. The mistakes have been too many and need to be rectified as much as Mattison needs to get some yards on the ground.
Since becoming the highest-paid tight end in the league, the pressure has increased on T.J. Hockenson to produce. His production level is at the same rate as last season, but there have been several times when Hockenson has had the chance to make a big play and failed to make the catch. These haven’t always been straightforward catches, but you’re expected to make the big plays once you are paid the big bucks.
With Jefferson out injured, there is even more emphasis on Hockenson being the focal point of the Vikings offense. I don’t expect his role to change too much. He will still be the guy the Vikings look to in the middle of the field. Hockenson usually sees 8-10 targets per game, and I’d expect it to always be on double figures while Jefferson is missing. He needs to start that run of games with a big outing in Chicago and set his season off on a more positive note.