I’m sorry. I probably could have found a better title but it just seemed so appropriate. Don’t blame me. Blame the History Channel and their incredible TV series “Vikings”. Blame Ragnar Lothbrok.
Regarding the season-ending NFL game between the Chicago Bears (5-10) and the Minnesota Vikings (12-3)……well, it might not be pretty. Hence, the “Blood Eagle” reference.
Last time these teams met, the Vikes pulled out a tight 20-17 victory at Soldier Field in Week 5. You may recall this was when rookie QB #10 Mitch Trubisky made his debut after the long week and a half after the 35-14 loss at Green Bay in which Mike Glennon sealed his fate with 4 turnovers. (Lagertha is more of a man than Glennon!) Trubisky did pretty well in his 1st game but he threw a late interception to Vikings S #22 Harrison Smith.
So now we’re finally at the season finale, which makes for a perfect bookend to Trubisky’s rookie season. Will he show improvement in this second matchup with Minnesota? We’ll see on Sunday. As for the playoff picture, the Vikings can NOT move up to the #1 seed. The Philadelphia Eagles have already clinched that top spot. Minnesota will clinch the #2 spot with a win over Chicago. From what I can gather, the Vikes will most likely get the #2 seed (and the important bye week) EVEN if they lose. I think the only way they would fall to the #3 seed is if the 49ers, Panthers, AND Buccaneers ALL win on Sunday. The odds of that aren’t great so there’s a chance Minny rests some starters. But you never know, right? Let’s analyze these teams through 15 games:
Bears offense vs Vikings defense
According to the NFL yardage stats, the Bears offense is 30th (out of 32 teams) in total offense, 31st in passing, 11th in rushing, and 29th in scoring at 16.9 ppg. Aikman’s Efficiency Ratings (AER) has the Bears rated as the 24th best offense.
The Vikings defense is 1st in total defense!, 2nd against the pass, 2nd against the run, and 1st in scoring defense at 16.1 ppg allowed. AER has the Vikings defense rated as the 2nd best defense in the NFL, behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars. Very impressive indeed.
Super huge EDGE: Minnesota defense
Bears defense vs Vikings offense
Bears defense is 8th overall in the NFL yardage rankings, 8th against the pass, 9th against the run, and 10th in points allowed at 19.8 ppg. AER has Chicago’s D as the 6th best! Chicago remains the 6th best defense in the NFL, the same as last week. That’s amazing considering the amount of injuries. Bravo to DC Vic Fangio and the effort put forth by these Bears defenders! Holding the Browns to 3 points last week was proof of how good these guys have been playing throughout most of 2017.
Meanwhile, the Vikings offense is 10th overall, 13th in passing, 8th in rushing, and 10th in scoring at 23.9 ppg. What the Vikings have done with their 3rd string QB Case Keenum is almost unbelievable. Don’t forget these guys used to start Teddy Bridgewater before his knee injury, and then they went to Sam Bradford but he was hurt too. In fact, Bradford played in the first matchup in Chicago and we could tell he wasn’t healthy enough to help Minny this year. So then they went to Keenum and he has almost miraculously led the Vikings to the NFC North Championship. AER has the Vikings as the 7th best offense in the NFL. Very impressive.
EDGE: Close matchup. We’ll call it a push.
Watch Out For………..
QB #10 Mitch Trubisky – Sunday is New Year’s Eve. It’s a time of reflection and also a time of setting goals and looking ahead to 2018. What better player to analyze than the future of Bears football, the rookie QB. Watch #10 on Sunday and think about all the skills he possesses. Imagine the future. Will this kid lead the Bears to great things someday? The “Dutch Lion” thinks so. He sees glitter and shiny trophies in Chicago’s future. Trubisky is everything we hoped he would be when he was drafted #2 overall. Now he just needs some offensive help including weapons in the WR corps, a solid protective offensive line, some coaching, and experience. Sprinkle in a little luck and Trubisky will be the face of this very successful franchise for many years to come. Pumped much? Me too. Believe…..trust me. Trust the “Lion”.
AER has the Bears (5-10) in the top half of the NFL at 15th overall. That is a glaring thing to note because it means the advanced metrics think Chicago should be much closer to 8-7 or 7-8 rather than 5-10. It means the Bears have had bad luck and should have won 2 or 3 games that they lost. That may also signal HC John Fox has underachieved this season. But does that mean GM Ryan Pace will make a change? I’m still not so sure. Whether there’s a new coach or not, I see Chicago improving that record A LOT in 2018. I see minimum 9 wins next year. The Bears might be closer to 11-5 in 2018. I know what you’re thinking…..the “Dutch Lion” has officially lost it. Well, you might be right. But you might be wrong. Nonetheless, that’s what we believe. At this moment in time, I’m pegging the Bears for 11-5 next season. #MarkItDown
Back to 2017, this week Minnesota is favored by 11 points. That’s because they are really darn good (AER has them 3rd, behind only the Jaguars and Eagles). Also, they are at home in US Bank Stadium to close out their regular season. This won’t be the last time we see this beautiful new stadium this year. The Vikes will have AT LEAST one home playoff game. PLUS, US Bank Stadium is the site of Super Bowl 52 on February 4, 2018. Could we see the 1st team ever playing in their home stadium in the Super Bowl?
So what will happen this week? Will the Vikings “blood eagle” the Bears? More or less, I think they will. I think Minnesota will show their power in their home finale as they want a victory to clinch that #2 seed in the NFC Playoffs. They don’t want to back into the Playoffs by blowing a home game to a 5-10 team. Therefore, the “Dutch Lion” is calling for a Minnesota win on New Year’s Eve. Take the Vikings S/U and probably ATS also. Happy New Year!…….but watch out for King Ragnar and his band of blood-thirsty brothers. They are lurking in the cold behind their shields and their Viking ships. Beware!
Minnesota Vikings 28 Chicago Bears 13