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The sports world was captivated by the incredible Monday Night Football performance last week when the Philadelphia Eagles won the thrilling Super Bowl LVII matchup over the Kansas City Chiefs on the road 21-17. The NFL is hoping to keep up that same intensity again as the Week 12 Monday Night Football matchup is set for a big divisional rivalry matchup.
This Monday night, the Chicago Bears (3-8) will go on the road to take on the Minnesota Vikings (6-5) in a pivotal NFC North Divisional matchup. This game will be the second meeting this season between these two teams. The last time that the two teams faced each other was in week six when they each only had one win going into the matchup. Minnesota won the matchup in week six on the road 19-13 thanks to the defense forcing three turnovers and linebacker Jordan Hicks returning a fumble for a 42-yard touchdown.
The Vikings had a horrible stretch to start the 2023 NFL Season. Minnesota started the season on a 1-4 start as the offense and defense struggled to find consistency. The Vikings started to find a rhythm after the week six win over the Bears. Quarterback Kik Cousins played better during the stretch, but when he went down with a season-ending Achilles injury, newly traded Joshua Dobbs kept the team rolling. Minnesota won five consecutive games until its 21-20 road loss to the Denver Broncos. A win over the Bears would help get the Vikings one step closer to the top of the NFC North, with two huge battles versus the Detroit Lions yet to be played.
The Chicago Bears came into the season with hope and potential. Instead, the Bears' season turned into a nightmare as the offense and defense struggled tremendously. Quarterback Justin Fields regressed as a passer and the Bears might be looking to move on from Fields. They were unable to get their first win of the season until week five with a 40-20 win at the Washington Commanders on Thursday Night Football. Under backup quarterback Tyson Bagent, the Bears went 2-3 in their next five games. In Fields' first game back from injury last week, the Bears held a 26-14 lead with less than three minutes left into the game, but the defense allowed two quick scoring drives.
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The Vikings' offense has been tested all season by the lack of an established rushing game and injuries to their star players. Minnesota is one-dimensional offensively since they let running back Dalvin Cook walk. They've relied on the arm of Kirk Cousins and a collection of high-caliber pass-catchers, including wide receiver Justin Jefferson, rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson. Jefferson will miss his seventh game for Minnesota on Monday and Cousins is out after his season-ending injury. The Vikings, however, are still ranked 13th in the league in points per game (23) and fourth in passing yards per game (266.7) as Josh Dobbs has been effectively leading the offense toward a serious divisional title run after a horrible start to the season.
The Bears' defense will look to have to their hands full against this talented Vikings' offense. Chicago ranks 29th in points allowed per game (26) and 25th in passing yards allowed per game (245.9). The biggest concern for the Bears is that they don't have a star player defensively outside of trading for Washington Commanders defensive end Montez Sweat at the trade deadline.
Offensively, the Bears’ identity is based on the reliability of dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields. That has given Chicago more problems than hope as he is a dynamic runner, but his ability to pass the ball is still lacking. The Bears are third in the league in rushing yards per game (139.5), but they are also 25th in passing yards per game (184.4). That is with high-volume wide receiver D.J. Moore as the number one receiver at their disposal.
The Vikings have seen elite play from their front seven, especially from their linebacker corp this season. Linebacker Jordan Hicks, outside linebacker Danielle Hunter, and D.J. Wonnum have all been incredibly reliable at stopping the run this season for Minnesota. The Vikings are ranked seventh in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (94). They should be key players in order to stop the dynamic running abilities of Justin Fields.
This bet should be one of the easiest bets to make in this Monday Night Football matchup. While Dobbs has accounted for a high number of passing touchdowns in his three games with Minnesota, he has found ways to tear apart the opposing team's pass defense. The Bears are one of the worst teams in the league in defending the passing game as they have allowed 22 passing touchdowns.
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D.J. Wonnum has been one of the most reliable defenders for the Vikings this season. In 11 games played, Wonnum has accounted for six tackles for loss and six sacks. In the 19-13 win over the Bears, Wonnum accounted for a sack and a tackle for loss as he was a consistent presence in the Bears' backfield.
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The offense of the Bears depends on the arm and the legs of Justin Fields. Once the ball gets to wide receiver D.J. Moore, however, the play has the potential to explode for long yardage. The Bears have attempted to get the ball to their star receiver multiple times this season. Moore has caught the ball more than four times in six of the last eight games.
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What: Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings
Where: U.S. Back Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: Monday, November 27, 8:15 PM E.T.
How to Watch: ABC, ESPN, ESPN+, YouTube TV, NFL
Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.
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