Behind enemy lines: Previewing the Vikings’ matchup against the Bears

Jack White
·5 min read

Minnesota defeated Chicago last time these two met, but a lot has changed since the Monday night game.

The Bears snapped their losing streak when the team defeated the Texans. Chicago has switched from Nick Foles to Mitch Trubisky at quarterback and the offense has improved since.

The Vikings have still won some games, but not as convincingly. Minnesota beat Carolina and Jacksonville, but both were mistake-prone performances where an interior opponent was kept in the game. The Vikings then had a disappointing loss to the Buccaneers.

So now it’s the Bears that have silver linings heading into the game, while the Vikings are looking for answers. We previewed the matchup with Alyssa Barbieri, the Managing Editor of Bears Wire.

Here is the interview:

1. With Mitch Trubisky at quarterback now, how much does the complexion of the Bears offense change?

Photo: Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports

Chicago’s offense has looked completely different with Trubisky under center this season, especially over the last few games. The Bears are averaging over 30 points per game in the last three weeks. The Bears offense has scored 24-plus points with Trubisky at the helm in four of his five starts this season. By comparison, the Bears have scored fewer than 24 points in all seven of Nick Foles' starts. Chicago is finally catering to Trubisky’s strengths, which include utilizing his mobility and getting him on the run, which has helped the offensive line and the run game tremendously. Speaking of the run game, it’s been substantially better with Trubisky in the game, and his mobility is certainly a big part of that. The Bears have also utilized a lot of play-action, which they’ve found success with.

2. Last time these two played, a lot went wrong for the Bears. What has to go right for them to beat the Vikings?

Photo: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Simply put, they need to play a complete game like they did last week against the Texans. Not that the offense needs to put up 36 points, but they do need to score more than the 6 points they did last time. Luckily, the Bears offense has finally started to find a rhythm some 13 weeks into the season, but that’ll be tested by Mike Zimmer this week. Chicago also needs another strong performance from its defense, which did a solid job against Minnesota in the last outing. Stopping running back Dalvin Cook will be key for the Bears defense, which will benefit from defensive tackle Akiem Hicks being back in the line-up. But Chicago certainly remembers how rookie receiver Justin Jefferson went off for 135 yards in the last meeting, and they’ll need to find a way to contain him.

3. Do you think Matt Nagy is on the hot seat at this point?

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Oh there’s no doubt that Nagy’s job is hanging by a thread. Which was surprising considering, at the beginning of this season, I would’ve said Nagy’s seat wouldn’t get hot this season, that it would be the following year. But no one envisioned the epic collapse this season, which featured Nagy’s abysmal offense in a six-game losing streak. It wouldn’t have been surprising if the Bears cut ties with him after that brutal loss to the Lions two weeks ago, but then again, the McCaskeys don’t fire anyone mid-season. While I still believe Nagy will be out of Chicago after this season, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he’s somehow back in 2021. These final three games will go a long way in determining that. If the Bears can find a way to sneak into the playoffs by winning two or all of their final three games, I think Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace will be back. But, at this point, they need to prove they can win more than one game in a row. So their futures are very much up-in-the-air at this point.

4. If you could take a Vikings player and put them on the Bears, who would it be and why?

Photo: Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports

Can I pick a coach? Because I’d love me some Mike Zimmer as my defensive play-caller. Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has been a big drop-off from Vic Fangio, and he hasn’t been utilizing some of his star players in ways that he should (not to mention he refuses to blitz, even though it’s proven effective). But I’ll also pick a player here. I’m tempted to go with rookie wideout Justin Jefferson, who’s just been an absolute stud this season and should seriously be in the conversation for Offensive Rookie of the Year. But I also wonder if this offense would waste him. But looking at the defensive side of the ball, I can’t help but be intrigued by what this Chicago secondary would look like with safety Harrison Smith teamed with Bears safety Eddie Jackson. So there you have it, I’ll take a coach, a receiver and a safety please.

5. Score prediction! Who wins and why?

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I can’t believe I’m actually picking the Bears to win two games in a row, but here we are. I think this game will be quite similar to their previous match-up with one caveat – Chicago’s offense has been averaging 30 points over the last three games, and I think a solid offensive effort gets them a win. Bears 27, Vikings 20