Vikings aim for season sweep against Bears
As Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson acclimates to the mental and physical grind of his first professional season, there’s at least one thing that feels normal.
“I always was on a winning team, so I always was in the playoffs or competing for something big,” Jefferson said. “So I’m kind of having the same feeling now being in the NFL, competing for a playoff spot.”
The Vikings remain one game out of the final NFC wild-card spot entering Sunday’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears, who come to Minneapolis with a 6-7 record that matches Minnesota’s.
Minnesota owns the tiebreaker against Chicago thanks to a 19-13 road victory in Week 10. The Vikings are aiming to sweep the season series against the Bears for the third time in coach Mike Zimmer’s seven seasons. The Vikings previously accomplished the feat in 2015 and 2017.
Chicago endured sizable offensive struggles in Week 10, getting outgained 385-149 while managing a mere 10 first downs. The Bears gained just 41 rushing yards on 17 carries, but still had a chance to win the game late courtesy of a defense that forced two turnovers — identical to Chicago’s own total — and a special-teams touchdown.
Khalil Mack leads the Bears defense with 7.5 sacks, but the team is hoping for a late-season surge from Robert Quinn, who has just one sack.
“He’s playing hard and it’s going to turn for him,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said.
Nick Foles suffered hip and glute injuries at the end of the Vikings game, prompting Nagy to reinsert Mitch Trubisky as the starter. Foles started eight games following the early-season benching of Trubisky.
Trubisky has passed for at least 242 yards in each of his three starts since, and last week finished 24-of-33 for 267 yards and three touchdowns as the Bears snapped a six-game losing streak with a 36-7 home rout of Houston.
“I think they feel pretty good about what they’re doing offensively right now,” Zimmer said. “They’re running the ball better. Trubisky’s playing well. They’ve got good receivers. They’re probably using (Darnell) Mooney a little bit more than they were. But Allen Robinson’s a really good player, and they’ve got two tight ends who are really good players with (Jimmy) Graham and (Cole) Kmet, so I think they have settled into what they want to do and what they want to be.”
Minnesota is coming off a 26-14 loss at Tampa Bay. Running back Dalvin Cook topped 100 yards for the third time in four games, but mistakes elsewhere added up.
Zimmer was non-committal regarding the struggles of placekicker Dan Bailey, who missed three field goals and an extra point against the Buccaneers one week after missing a field goal and two extra points in an overtime win against Jacksonville. Asked first whether Bailey will kick against the Bears and later if the team will pursue another kicker, Zimmer responded with “We’ll see,” both times.
Linebacker and leading tackler Eric Kendricks, who missed the Tampa Bay game with a calf injury, did not practice Wednesday. Tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot), also out against the Bucs, missed practice as well.
Nagy said Wednesday that Jaylon Johnson (right shoulder) is day-to-day, while fellow defensive back Buster Skrine remains in concussion protocol.
–Field Level Media