The Minnesota Vikings need to beat the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. Heading into the bye at 1-5 meant that Minnesota had a very small chance of making the playoffs. Things can change pretty quickly in the NFL, though. After two-straight wins against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the Vikings now have a shot at making the postseason.
The Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football
Before the Detroit game, Minnesota had a 14 percent chance of making the playoffs, per FiveThirtyEight. After beating Detroit, Minnesota’s chances jumped to 24 percent. While these percentages are encouraging, Minnesota must continue playing well.
Chicago usually presents a difficult challenge for the Vikings, especially at Soldier Field. Kirk Cousins has yet to beat the Bears since coming to Minnesota. Even worse, Cousins is 0-9 in his career on Monday Night Football. History suggests that Minnesota won’t do well tomorrow night, but there is reason for optimism.
Of course, the aforementioned two-game winning streak offers some hope. Perhaps even more encouraging is the way that Minnesota is winning. Dalvin Cook is playing at an MVP level. Against Green Bay, Cook had 163 rushing yards, 63 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. Last week against Detroit, Cook had 206 rushing yards, 46 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Cook, who has scored in every game he has played this year, needs to deliver a similar performance against Chicago.
DALVIN COOK. 70 YARDS. UNSTOPPABLE. #SKOL
— NFL (@NFL) November 8, 2020
Apart from Cook, the key likely rests in Cousins. The Vikings have won three games this season; Cousins hasn’t turned the ball over in all three games. The Vikings have lost five games this season; Cousins has turned the ball over in all five games. The trend, a simple as it may be, illustrates an important reality: the Vikings simply aren’t good enough to overcome turnovers from Cousins. He will need to be smart tomorrow night.
The Bears have essentially taken the opposite path as the Vikings. They began 5-1 but have now lost three games in a row. Matt Nagy has handed off play-calling duties. Things have gotten so bad with Nick Foles that the Bears now want Mitch Trubisky to start again. The issue, of course, is that Trubisky is injured.
Overall, Minnesota’s defense has struggled this year. There are a variety of reasons why, foremost among them being the myriad of injuries. Nevertheless, they should be able to slow Chicago. David Montgomery won’t be able to play, and Allen Robinson is questionable. This is a game that favors the Vikings.
Minnesota’s defense is in a good position to succeed against Chicago. The being said, fans shouldn’t get overly confident. The special teams’ units are going to need to be much, much better. Last week’s two blocked punts, missed PAT, and lackluster returns certainly leave a lot of room for improvement. The offense will likely have some difficulty moving the ball against Chicago’s defense. Irv Smith had two touchdowns last week, but he won’t be able to play on Monday night. There is some pressure, then, on Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Beating Chicago on Monday Night Football means the Vikings will have completed an impressive feat: back-to-back-to-back wins against divisional opponents. Given their unimpressive start to the season, Minnesota essentially needs to win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. If Minnesota pulls off the big win against Chicago, then it may be time to start looking ahead to what could be an impressive turnaround for the Vikings.