The 11-4 Chicago Bears:
Having won eight of their last nine games, the 11-4 Chicago Bears are on a roll straight to the 3rd seed of the playoffs (at least) after their 14-9 away win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16.
Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed 25-of-29 for 246 yards and a touchdown, and with his defense keeping the 49-ers to just three field goals, that was enough for the win.
Chicago is 4-3 on the road, 4-1 against divisional rivals, and though they’ve already taken care of the Vikings at home in Week 11 this season, a win won’t come easy in front of a Minnesota home crowd desperate to see their team go to the playoffs.
The 8-6 Minnesota Vikings:
After losing three-out-of-four following their bye week, the 8-6 Minnesota Vikings have gone on a two-game winning streak, including a Week 16 drubbing of the Detroit Lions 27-9, which they hope to continue at home against the Bears.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was brought to the team to ensure Minnesota’s path to the playoffs, but currently they’re the sixth seed by just half a game over the Philadelphia Eagles and a loss to the Bears might be enough to eliminate them from postseason play.
Minnesota is 5-2 at U.S. Bank Stadium, they’re 3-1-1 against divisional rivals and they’re favored by almost a touchdown, but none of that’s a guarantee against a Bears’ top-notch defense that’s used to shutting opponents down.
What’s at stake:
These two teams have met 115 times (including 1 postseason game), with Chicago winning 53 games and Minnesota winning 60 games. They have also tied two times. The Vikings have won 7 of the last 10 meetings, but this season in Week 11 they lost to the Bears by a score of 25-20.
If the Bears win this matchup, their record will be 12-4 and as the clear winner of the NFC North they’d be at least the third seed in the playoffs, but if the Los Angeles Rams lose their Week 17 game, they’d also be 12-4, but the Bears would win that tiebreaker and move to the second seed.
But if the Vikings come out on top, they’ll be 9-6 and though they’d remain in second place to the Vikings in the NFC North, they’d secure their sixth seed spot in the playoffs and play either the Bears or the Rams in the wild card game.
Questions to answer…
Who’s favored to win this Week 17 Bears-Vikings matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Bears and the Vikings and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Bears offense ranked 21st in the NFL
Chicago’s offense is top ten in scoring, putting up 26.5 points per game and moving the ball 345 total yards against opponents.
Trubisky’s second season has gone better than his rookie year, but still in 13 games he’s thrown for just 3,060 yards and 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, ranked 21st amongst his quarterback peers.
Having a great season is wide receiver Allen Robinson, who has caught 55 balls for 754 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 13.7 yards per catch.
Bears’ rushing attack ranked 14th
Running back Jordan Howard has carried the ball 229 times for 826 yards and 7 touchdowns while catching 19 balls for 140 yards.
Second year back Tarik Cohen is a dual threat whose had 163 touches for 1,137 yards from scrimmage and 7 total touchdowns, but Cohen has also had a career high 6 fumbles.
Chicago offensive Injuries
Offensive guard Kyle Long (foot) was designated to return from injured reserve on Friday.
The 2018 Vikings offense ranked 17th overall
This season, the Vikings have been able to score an average of 23.3 points and move the ball 358 yards per game.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is having a very respectable season, throwing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns with 10 interceptions and a completion percentage of 70.7, second only to future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees.
Cousins has wide receiver Adam Thielen to throw to, who’s had 110 receptions for 1,335 yards and 9 touchdowns, and receiver Stefon Diggs, whose caught 94 balls for 974 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Minnesota’s run game ranked 30th
The Vikings run game only averages 95.3 yards per game with carries split between running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray.
Both dual threats, Cook has 158 touches for 860 yards from scrimmage and 4 touchdowns, while Murray has had 160 touches for 701 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Minnesota offensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 17: fullback C.J. Ham (elbow).
Bears Defense ranks 4th in the league
Bears’ opponents only score 18.2 points and average 308.7 total points per game, their rushing defense ranked 2nd in the league while their pass defense is ranked 8th.
Chicago’s 27 total interceptions lead the league, their 46 sacks are the fifth most and their red zone scoring percentage of 48.72 is fourth best overall.
Bears Defensive Players to watch:
First round draft pick Roquan Smith is an inside linebacker worth watching with 116 combined tackles his rookie season along with 5.0 sacks, 6 passes defended and an interception.
There should be some sacks in this matchup, many of them most likely from Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who has 12.5 of them, T-6th most in the league.
Chicago has two players in its secondary who have top-three interception totals – cornerback Kyle Fuller is tied for the most with 7 and free safety Eddie Jackson is tied for third most with 6.
Bears defensive injuries
Currently there are no defensive Bears players listed as questionable.
Vikings Defense is 3rd overall
Though the Vikings’ defense is ranked a notch above the Bears’, they allow opponents just half a yard less per game (308.2) and actually allow them to score more points (21.1) on average with a run defense ranked 11th and a pass defense ranked 3rd.
Minnesota’s 12 interceptions are T-15th most, but their 50 sacks are the most in the NFL and their red zone scoring percentage of 41.30 is the best in the league.
Vikings Defensive Players to watch:
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks has been busy taking down opponents with 108 combined tackles, 7 passes defended, a forced fumble and a sack.
Talk about a sack monster, defensive end Danielle Hunter has 14.5 sacks, tied for third most in the league.
The Vikings’ secondary is a dangerous place to throw a football, partly due to defensive back Anthony Harris and free safety Harrison Smith, who have three interceptions apiece.
Vikings Defensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 17: cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (groin) and Marcus Sherels (foot).
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Chicago’s punter, Pat O’Donnell, is a fifth year pro who has punted 58 times for a net average of 39.5 yards per punt, ranked 20th in the NFL.
Minnesota’s punter, Matt Wile, in his third year and picked up in September on waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers, has punted 67 times for a net average of 40.7 yards per punt, ranked T-12th in the NFL.
Chicago’s placekicker, Cody Parkey, was a free agent pickup this offseason and has gone 22-for-29, his longest was a 50-yarder.
Parkey has missed two extra point attempts (41/43), both in a Week 10 game where he also missed two field goals, all four kicks hitting the uprights.
Minnesota’s veteran placekicker, Dan Bailey, a former Dallas Cowboy who is considered one of the most accurate place kickers in the history of the NFL, has gone 20-for-27, his longest was a 52-yarder.
Bailey has missed one extra point attempt (29/30).
Chicago’s punt returner, running back Tarik Cohen, is ranked 8th in the league.
Cohen has returned 31 punts for 413 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 13.3 yards per return, his longest for 44 yards.
Minnesota’s punt returner, cornerback Marcus Sherels, is ranked T-10th in the league.
Sherels has returned 23 punts for 276 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 12.0 yards per return, his longest for 70 yards.
Bears–Vikings prediction and odds
The odds makers have the Vikings favored over the Bears by 4.5 with an over/under of 40.5.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Vikings 23, Bears 16
John Breech takes the under and predicts it Vikings 20, Bears 17