The Vikings on Halloween night will look to get back to their winning ways at Soldier Field, which in recent years has been a house of horrors for them. Beyond the venue, though, there isn’t much about the Bears that should scare the first-place Vikings. Prediction: Vikings 24, Bears 14
Three big story lines:
The Vikings must fortify their pass protection after QB Sam Bradford got hit 19 times in last week’s loss to the Eagles. A lot of that was on the tackles, but there was plenty of blame to spread around.
Looking for traction
The Vikings, who average only 2.6 yards per carry, will look to get the league’s worst running attack going without RB Jerick McKinnon, who is out. Matt Asiata and Ronnie Hillman should split the load.
Hello, Mr. Mankato
Safety Andrew Sendejo, perhaps the team’s most improved player, also will be sidelined because of an ankle injury. Rookie Jayron Kearse, a training camp standout, is expected to start next to Harrison Smith.
Two key matchups
Vikings O-Line vs. Bears OLB Pernell McPHee
McPhee, who made his 2016 debut last week, will be a handful for the offensive line. While McPhee, who had six sacks last season, is listed as an OLB, he will move inside at times to generate pressure there.
CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Bears WR Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery has had some big games against the Vikings, averaging 87.4 yards with six TDs in seven meetings. Rhodes should expect Bears QB Jay Cutler, back in the lineup, to look Jeffery’s way often.
One stat that matters
17 Touchdown passes for Cutler in seven starts against the Vikings at Soldier Field.
The Vikings will win if…
They keep the hits on Bradford to single digits and the QB helps himself out by getting rid of the ball faster. Pressuring Cutler into a couple of careless mistakes will help, too.
The Bears will win if…
McPhee and Co. expose the offensive tackles again, the Bears keep the clock ticking with a balanced offense and Jeffery has another monster game against the Vikings.
Vensel’s win probability