Things won’t come easy for the Vikings at Soldier Field against a high-flying Bears offense and a defense that leads the league in takeaways. The Vikings defense, which should be well-rested after a bye week, will do enough to make life difficult for Mitchell Trubisky and scratch out a victory.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Cousins faces his childhood team
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, who grew up a Bears fan while living in the Chicago suburbs, won his first two starts at Soldier Field with the Redskins. He’ll try to become the first Vikings QB to win his first start in Chicago since Tarvaris Jackson in 2007.
Vikings prepare for Bears’ ‘800 plays’
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, somewhat facetiously this week, that the Bears have about “800 plays” in their playbook. In reality, the Bears have enough diverse concepts and week-to-week changes in their scheme that the Vikings are likely to face some things they haven’t seen before.
Mack trucking through the NFC North
The Bears traded a pair of first-round picks for Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack, who got a six-year, $141 million deal from the team. Mack has seven sacks and four forced fumbles in the seven games he’s played, for a defense that’s ranked fourth in the league.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings RT Brian O’Neill vs. Bears LB Khalil Mack
The Bears used Mack primarily on the right side of their defense last week, but he’s played the majority of his snaps this season on the left side. And while he’ll move around for Chicago on Sunday night, he’ll likely spend plenty of time trying to get past O’Neill, the second-round pick who’s stood tall against formidable pass rushers so far.
Vikings defense vs.
Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky
Trubisky’s mobility will cause problems for the Vikings if they’re not able to rush him without giving him room to escape. But teams have been able to lure the second-year quarterback into some mistakes with confusing pressure packages, and the Vikings could use some of their overload blitzes to test Trubisky’s processing ability.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
89 The number of points the Bears have scored off turnovers this season; Chicago, which leads the league with 24 takeaways, also has the most points off turnovers in the NFL this season.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
Cousins can play his third turnover-free game of the season while dealing with the Bears’ pressure, while the Vikings defense can pressure Trubisky from some unpredictable angles, keep him from escaping the pocket and force him into throwing an interception or two.
THE BEARS WILL WIN IF …
Mack leads a consistent effort to pressure Cousins, forcing a turnover or two that leads to points for the Bears and prevents the Vikings from leaning on their run game, while Trubisky can make the most of the Bears’ voluminous offense and get the ball to his playmakers.
Prediction Vikings, 20-17
Win Probability 55 percent