The Bears (3-8) squandered a 12-point lead in the final four minutes of their last game against the Lions in Detroit a week ago. The defense that had produced four turnovers during the game collapsed at the end and the offense boosted by the return of quarterback Justin Fields could not answer back in their final drive. Now Chicago heads to Minneapolis for a Monday meeting with the playoff-contending Vikings (6-5).
It appeared Minnesota suffered a devastating blow when starting quarterback Kirk Cousins ruptured his Achilles tendon against the Packers in October. Instead, the Vikings traded for Joshua Dobbs from the Cardinals and he led them to two consecutive victories to put them into a playoff position.
A bit of the Dobbs magic wore off when the Broncos beat them in their last game but their offense has not completely fallen off a cliff as expected without Cousins. Head coach Kevin O’Connell is still without all-pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson who continues to recover from a hamstring strain.
The Vikings have relied heavily on the passing attack this year with a running game that produces only 93.8 yards per game. Dobbs has held his own with 647 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception in his three starts in the Twin Cities.
Defensively Minnesota is in the middle of the pack but the run defense is significantly better than the pass defense. Linebacker Danielle Hunter is having a monster year with 12 sacks through 11 games. Turnovers have been a big issue, especially fumbles, with 14 lost by the Vikes this season.
The Bears showed against the Lions that they certainly have the ability to win games against tough opponents on the road. They just seem unable to secure the lead when they get it. It’s unclear if the issue is a lack of depth and talent or bad coaching, it’s likely a combination of both.
The last time these two teams met in Chicago the Vikings struggled to win even after Justin Fields went down with his thumb injury in the 2nd quarter. Now with Kirk Cousins out and Fields back this is a much more even contest but it’s just hard to say if the Bears can ever close out a victory. Perhaps Monday will be the day.
Where to Watch/Listen
- Monday, November 27 at 7:15pm CT on ABC/ESPN, WBBM Radio (English), and WRTO Radio (Spanish).
Keys to Victory
Here are my keys to Monday’s game. If these things happen, the Bears should have a shot to win.
- Force turnovers. Chicago was able to create four turnovers against Detroit and it gave them an excellent chance to win before they blew it. Minnesota has 20 turnovers this season so they are vulnerable.
- Call more designed runs for Justin Fields. The Bears quarterback was able to pick up over 100 yards on the ground in his first game back. He was very effective sweeping to the outside on several occasions.
- Focus on D.J. Moore. The Vikings have issues in the secondary and Moore is the best receiver Chicago has by a lot. Fields passed up an open Moore on an underneath route on a 3rd down that could have sealed the game in the 4th quarter, instead taking a deep shot to rookie receiver Tyler Scott who took a bad angle and couldn’t make the catch.
Don’t Tell Me the Odds
The Vikings are only favored by three points at home against the Bears Monday. Vegas expects a pretty low-scoring game with an over/under set at just 43.5.
It’s Football Weather
It’s a second consecutive indoor game for Chicago at US Bank Stadium Monday night so weather conditions will not be an issue.
This one is going to be a defensive battle that will go right up to the final play. I think the Bears issues closing games will come up again and the Vikings will take home a 20-17 victory.
Official Bears Preview
Bears analysts Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer are joined by by Rick Spielman, former Vikings general manager, to preview the upcoming Week 12 matchup in Minneapolis o