Before getting to this week’s prediction, here’s some pregame reading material in case you missed anything leading up to Vikings-Bears.
A look at how Week 10’s results impacted the Vikings while they were on a bye.
An overview of the Bears deep, talented defense after watching all 24 of their takeaways.
A deep dive into the two areas where Kirk Cousins wants to improve offensively.
A story on how Chad Beebe emerged at receiver and how the Vikings could continue using him going forward.
And for those who prefer listening to reading, the latest Zone Coverage Football Machine podcast.
Still no Andrew Sendejo for the Vikings. The safety will miss his fifth straight game with a groin injury. David Morgan will also miss the game with a knee injury. Anthony Barr (hamstring), Mike Remmers (low back) and Tom Compton (knee) are questionable. If Remmers and Compton both miss the game, the Vikings could be stretched thin on the interior.
The Bears are the healthier team of the two. Backup tight end Dion Sims is the only player ruled out (concussion). Backup receiver Javon Wims (knee) is questionable, as is rotational defensive tackle Bilal Nichols (knee).
Key stat to watch…
Red zone percentage. The Vikings have the second-best red zone defense in football, allowing just 13 out of 33 touchdowns. The Bears offense ranks 12th with 21 out of 32, and they are 70 percent in their last three games. Whoever wins inside the 20 could win the game.
For Chicago: It’s Trey Burton, the tight end, who’s having his best season now that he’s no longer behind Zach Ertz on Philadelphia’s depth chart. The Vikings have given up the 12th-most yards to tight ends in the NFL and will have plenty of other threats to neutralize besides Burton. They’ll have to be wary not to forget about the athletic tight end, who has a touchdown in five of nine games.
For Minnesota: There’s no guarantee he’s active, but how about Ameer Abdullah? The Vikings acquired the former Detroit running back during the bye and have not tipped their hand as to how he’ll be used offensively, if at all. Minnesota still has Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray and Mike Boone at running back, so it’s unlikely Abdullah gets a plethora of touches, but he could serve as a change-of-pace back and, if active, could return kicks on special teams.
It’s the type of game that may hinge on a couple of plays — probably turnovers. The Vikings have to make sure it doesn’t play out like the Saints game in which they had control before a giveaway by Adam Thielen flipped the momentum, then another turnover by Kirk Cousins virtually wiped them out.
Chicago’s defense is talented, seasoned and opportunistic. They’re well equipped to force at least one costly mistake by Cousins, an issue that’s cropped up in about half his games.
If the Vikings play turnover free, they should win, but that’s a big ask against the NFL’s turnover kings in a place where Minnesota has historically struggled.
Bears 21, Vikings 18