Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings – Season Finale Preview
We’ve finally advanced to the bitter end of the 2021 NFL regular season. The Chicago Bears (6-10) travel up north to face the Vikings (7-9) in Minneapolis. Normally by now we’re done with the regular season but the NFL increased the amount of games from 16 to 17 this year. So now we’re still playing meaningless regular season games in the second weekend of January.
In what will likely be HC Matt Nagy’s last game with Chicago at the end of his 4th season, the Bears have actually won two in a row going into the finale. Win or lose, 99% of Bears fans (this is a scientific poll in which I asked two random humans what they thought) believe Nagy will (and should) be fired on Black Monday, January 10. Who will be Nagy’s successor? That’s for another column which I’ll be publishing any day now.
Before we get to this Sunday’s game, let’s name our Player of the Year and Game Ball winners of the 2021 season.
Ten Best Bears of 2021
- OLB #94 Robert Quinn – 48 tackles, 17 TFL’s, 18 sacks!, 4 forced fumbles. After looking horrible in 2020, Quinn put it all together and dominated in ’21. You’ve gotta give Quinn a ton of credit for working hard, doing it quietly, and putting up giant numbers despite the fact Khalil Mack was out most of the season with an injury, thus opening up opponents to double team Quinn. Whether they did or not, it never worked consistently. Quinn hounded QB’s all year. He broke an old Bears franchise record by recording 18 sacks which broke Richard Dent’s record of 17.5 sacks in 1984. Congratulations to our Bears Player of the Year!
- ILB #58 Roquan Smith – 157 tackles, 12 TFL’s, 3 sacks, 3 PBU’s, 1 INT returned 53 yards for TD. Roquan played in all 16 games and was once again hosed for the Pro Bowl recognition. However, he might end up on the All-Pro team or AP All-NFL team. I still believe Smith is headed to Canton.
- WR #11 Darnell Mooney – 69 catches, 929 yards, 13.5 avg, 4 TD’s, 289 YAC, 6 carries, 32 yards, 1 TD. Mooney had an excellent second year in the NFL. He is one of the only weapons on Chicago’s offense. He is a good route runner and can get open. Is he a true #1 receiver though? Not really. Mooney will blossom in the right offense with surrounding talent, including a QB that can get him the ball more consistently.
- RB #32 David Montgomery – 205 carries, 777 yards, 3.8 ypc, 7 TD’s, 41 long, 40 catches, 294 yards, 0 TD’s, 265 YAC (yards after catch). Montgomery is a really good running back. His 3.8 average looks bad but it feels like he’s always fighting for yards before he even gets to the line of scrimmage. Again, it’s the offense and the offensive line’s fault. Montgomery doesn’t have great speed though, and that lack of breakaway runs holds down his average. Nonetheless, Montgomery is one of the best players on the team and certainly not the reason why the Bears offense has struggled. I believe if you put almost any other RB in the entire NFL on the Bears, they still wouldn’t make much of a positive difference in Chicago’s offense. I’d love to see what Montgomery could do in a good offense.
- OLB #99 Trevis Gipson – 35 tackles, 6 TFL’s, 6.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 2 PBU’s. Playing as a backup for about half of his 15 games played, Gipson put up solid numbers. After Mack was injured and stopped playing after seven games, Gipson picked up the slack as a new starter. He definitely showed promise. He could be a big part of the Bears future, whether or not they keep Mack and/or Quinn down the road.
- K #2 Cairo Santos – Nailed 23 of 27 field goals (85%) and made 27-28 PAT’s. Missed only two kicks under 50 yards. Consistent.
- TE #85 Cole Kmet – 56 catches, 564 yards, 10.1 avg, 0 TD’s, 227 YAC. Kmet progressed this year. However, he still needs to do more. It’s mostly not his fault as the Bears offense and quarterback play has limited his numbers. But sometimes Kmet dropped/missed catchable passes. Plus, he never scored. Why? This is best left to the coaching staff. I think we’ll see much more out of Kmet in the future if Chicago finally gets more competent offensive minds at Halas Hall.
- P #16 Pat O’Donnell – Averaged 46.3 gross yards per punt (38.5 net) with a long of 72. Like Santos, O’Donnell is consistently good.
- LG #65 Cody Whitehair – Whitehair is the strongest player on the underwhelming Bears offensive line. He’s consistently healthy and starting while all the other players, especially the offensive tackles seem to rotate in and out constantly. Believe it or not, he’s already finishing up his 6th year in a Bears uniform.
- DE #96 Akiem Hicks – One of Dutch Lion’s favorites, it looks like Sunday will be this “Mountain of a Man’s” last game in a Bears uniform. Always enjoyed watching this dude play ball. He’s fun to cheer for. Good luck to Mr. Hicks.
Troy Aikman’s Efficiency Ratings (AER)
- Chicago Bears (6-10) : 29th offense, 18th defense
- Minnesota Vikings (7-9) : 13th offense, 24th defense
- Chicago : 22nd overall, 25th offense, 13th defense, 7th special teams
- Minnesota : 16th overall, 17th offense, 17th defense, 13th special teams
- Chicago : 25th overall
- Minnesota : 18th overall
Sports Betting Dime
- SportsBettingDime.com’s formula has Minnesota winning by a score of 25.7-17.5.
It’s apropos that the Bears have uncertainty at quarterback in this game, just like they’ve had all year. Justin Fields was planning to start in the last game of his rookie season, until he was placed on the COVID list on Thursday. Now it’s unlikely that he’ll suit up on Sunday. Meanwhile, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was just activated from the COVID list on Wednesday, thus giving the Vikes a decided edge at signal caller.
Minnesota is favored by 5.5 points on their home field at U.S. Bank Stadium. This game could certainly go either way but we agree that the Vikings will probably win. PICK: Minnesota
Week 18 Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 27, Chicago Bears 17
Last week’s Prediction: Chicago Bears 21, New York Giants 13
Last week’s Result: Chicago Bears 29, New York Giants 3
2021 Season: Chicago Bears 6-10, Dutch Lion 14-2 (our two losses were Las Vegas and Seattle)
That’s it for the 2021 Bears season previews. I hope you enjoyed the columns, even if you didn’t enjoy the results. Look for our next column detailing the top candidates to replace Nagy as head coach. That should be out in just a few short days.