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This is an important win for the 6-7 Minnesota Vikings who are on the bubble for an NFC wildcard playoff spot, so their ever-steady QB Kirk Cousins must produce the way he typically does while dual-threat RB Dalvin Cook continues to impress, a win that would keep them in the postseason hunt against an NFC North rival that they tend to beat more often than not.
The battle for the NFC North has all but been won by the Green Bay Packers, so the Bears and Vikings are basically fighting over an NFC wildcard spot in the postseason, but Chicago looks incapable of consistency these days, which could be the result of starting a rookie under center, with QB Justin Fields doing his best to adjust his game and his timing to the pro level.
These two NFC North rivals have faced each other 120 prior times (including 1 postseason game), with the Chicago Bears winning 57 of those games and the Minnesota Vikings winning 61 of the games, plus there have been two ties.
Now in his fifth NFL season, Vikings’ dual-threat running back Dalvin Cook is having himself yet another highly productive season, his contributions and a runner and a receiver making him a key part of this Minnesota offense which is now ranked 3rd best in the league.
What Cook gives the Vikings is a running back that averages almost five yards per carry and potential receiving threat out of the backfield or the slot who averages almost eight yards per reception, the kind of talent that forces defensive coordinators to game plan against.
This season Cook has almost 1,200 total yards from scrimmage off 225 touches, and he has been in the end zone six times already, the only concern on the man’s stat sheet being the three fumbles he has this season, still two less than his five drops from last year.
Most rookie quarterbacks struggle in the NFL but Bears QB Justin Fields is beginning to look more like a pro these days, his 2-7 record as a starter aside, the young player has shown great mobility out of the pocket and appears to be a difficult scrambler to tackle.
Whether Fields is the future in Chicago is yet to be determined, but his numbers this year are starting to look decent, with 133 completions off 231 attempts for 1,585 yards and 6 touchdowns, his 10 interceptions and 57.6 completion percentage the main concerns right now.
If Fields expects to be the franchise QB for the Bears, he must continue to develop as a pro and that might happen quicker if the front office gives him a more effective front line, with this group allowing him to be sacked 33 times in nine games making it tough for Justin to relax and play.
Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is only in his second pro season and already he has become a major part of QB Kirk Cousins’ passing attack, the 6’ 1” 195 pound LSU alum able to get open with his speed and earn yards after the catch with his toughness.
Last year as a rookie, Jefferson posted 88 catches for 1,400 yards and 7 touchdowns in sixteen games, and this season he has almost caught those numbers in a much shorter time, right now with 85 receptions for 1,288 yards and 8 touchdowns, a huge factor in the team’s six wins.
Watch for Cousins to target Jefferson early and often in this one against a Bears pass defense that is ranked 8th in the league after allowing opponents to throw for 217 yards per game this season, a tough secondary that Jefferson will have to maneuver around.
The Chicago Bears are the fourth NFL team for veteran tight end Jimmy Graham who came into the league back in 2010 with the New Orleans Saints, now with over 700 total receptions and 84 touchdowns in a twelve-year career that has only seen two 1,000+ receiving yards seasons.
Graham, a 6’ 7” 259 pound giant, is now in his second season with the Bears and he has only been targeted 16 times for 9 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns, low numbers that are indicative of this 31st ranked offense.
If Chicago expects to win this game, QB Fields must figure out a way to get his big man Graham the ball, especially in the red zone where his height gives him the full advantage when fighting for the football is thrown ten feet above whatever poor cornerback is covering him.
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|Vikings vs Bears Information|
|What||Minnesota Vikings vs Chicago Bears|
|Where||Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois|
|When||Monday, December 20, 2021; 8:15 PM ET|
|How to watch||ESPN, ABC, ESPN+|
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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