How sweet has this season been for Chicago Bears (11-4) fans!?!? This Sunday, the Bears travel north to Minneapolis to finish the 2018 regular season at the Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1). To be honest, this game doesn’t mean a whole lot for the Bears…… probably. It does mean plenty for the Vikings…… probably.
You know the scenarios. Or do you? Does the “Dutch Lion” need to detail them again? Simply put, the Bears are locked into the #2 or #3 seed in the NFC Playoffs. It’s unlikely they get the #2 seed and the bye week because they need to win AND have the double-digit favorite Los Angeles Rams (12-3) lose at home to the San Francisco 49ers (4-11).
Assuming the Bears don’t get the bye and remain the #3 seed, they will need to play on Wild Card Weekend against the #6 seed at Soldier Field. The #6 seed will be one of three teams: the Seattle Seahawks (9-6), the Vikings (8-6-1), or the Philadelphia Eagles (8-7).
As for Minnesota, they need to stay ahead of the Eagles. So if Philly wins at Washington, then Minny needs to beat Chicago. Got it? So what we have here are different levels of motivation. Some teams need to win. Some teams don’t need to win. Some teams are not sure yet if they “need” to win. It creates some possibly weird situations on Sunday afternoon.
Will QB #10 Mitch Trubisky play? I’m sure he’ll start but once the Bears know their situation, possibly as soon as halftime while in the locker room of US Bank Stadium, they may bench Mitch, throw in backup QB #4 Chase Daniel, and start benching all the important starters such as OLB #52 Khalil Mack, DE #96 Akiem Hicks, and any players that may be suffering through injuries.
Plus, look for RG #75 Kyle Long to get back out there and play at least a little bit to test his healthy ankle. Long was activated from Injured Reserve on Saturday, having been out since October 28. It will be fun to watch Long maul some Vikings on Sunday afternoon. More importantly, it will be important for the Bears to get him moving again ahead of his first Playoff appearance in Chicago since he was drafted in 2013.
Let’s see how Troy Aikman has the Bears and Vikings ranked through Week 16 in his highly acclaimed Aikman Efficiency Ratings (AER).
Aikman Efficiency Ratings (AER)
- Chicago (10-4) : 1st overall (165.7), 16th offense (84.4), 1st defense (81.3)
- Minnesota (8-6-1) : 10th overall (157.0), 22nd offense (80.6), 2nd defense (76.4)
It’s Week 17 and Minnesota is one of the toughest opponents on the Bears schedule this year. Of course, Chicago beat Minnesota 25-20 a few weeks ago, but that was at Soldier Field. Playing at the Metrodome, check that, the beautiful new US Bank Stadium, will be a challenge of another sort. The Vikes have the 2nd best defense according to AER, which means we technically have the top two D’s in all the land matching up on Sunday afternoon. So if one were to ask Troy Aikman for his prediction, he might guess 3-2, or 7-6, or maybe 10-9.
Week 17 Prediction:
Minnesota is favored by 4.5 points according to Saturday’s Chicago Tribune. Add in the motivation level of the Vikings, playing at home with a chance to clinch an NFC Wild Card berth in the Playoffs, and it gives Minnesota the edge. Given the setting, given the situation, and given the mentality of both teams, I’m picking the Vikings to defend their home turf and win this game. Can the Bears even cover the spread? I shall wager the answer is no. Vikes win S/U and ATS.
Minnesota Vikings 17, Chicago Bears 11
Next week we’ll be back with our Regular Season recap and then possibly our Bears Playoff preview, unless of course the Bears find a way to grab that bye week. In that case we may publish an NFL Playoffs Preview. Looking forward to bigger and better things in January 2019!