Prediction: Chicago 27, Vikings 23 While division rivals Green Bay and Detroit prepare for the playoffs, the Bears and Vikings can't wait to close the door on 2011, a season that was massively disappointing to both teams for very different reasons. In all, five Pro Bowl players will be in action. The Bears have four of them, including three on defense. That'll be enough to deliver the Vikings one last loss.
Bears may have ringer with Bell Consider this game another audition for Bears running back Kahlil Bell, recently a third-stringer but now hoping to prove he can be a featured playmaker in 2012 -- whether that's in Chicago or elsewhere. In his first career start last weekend, Bell had 159 yards from scrimmage on 27 touches. "He can run with power inside," coach Lovie Smith said. "He can run over you. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can make you miss in the open field. And he has confidence in his ability in the NFL."
A last chance for Ponder Vikings coach Leslie Frazier liked what he saw out of Christian Ponder last weekend before the rookie quarterback was forced to leave the win over the Redskins because of a concussion. After a shaky and admittedly anxious performance against New Orleans in Week 15, Ponder didn't deliver explosive production in Washington. But at least he seemed to play a bit looser. Said Frazier: "We had talked to him [last] week about just settling down and not feeling as if you have to carry this entire football team on your shoulders."
End of the road for Kleinsasser After 13 seasons, tight end Jim Kleinsasser will see his final NFL action with coaches hoping to get him a few touches. Kleinsasser will be venerated more for his toughness and work ethic than for his production (192 catches, 1,688 yards; 43 carries, 147 yards). His first reception came from Randall Cunningham; his most recent carry was in Week 9 of 2003. "I feel good about going out with two good legs that work," Kleinsasser said. "My head's good, and I think there's a point where you don't want to push your luck."
MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH
Vikings running back Toby Gerhart vs. Bears linebacker Lance Briggs
About Gerhart The second-year player is averaging 5.7 yards per carry over the past four games.
About Briggs He has a team-best 140 tackles this year, his eighth consecutive season with at least 100.Who has the edge? Briggs was named to the Pro Bowl for the seventh consecutive season. According to STATS LLC, he has nine "stuffs" this season (tackling a ball carrier for negative yardage). Since his rookie season in 2003, Briggs has an NFL-best 152 1/2 stuffs.