23

Vikings

16

Bears

One man’s prediction: After consecutive losses to playoff-bound Seattle and Arizona, the Vikings have to get back on track to stay in the NFC North race. The visitors are also coming off back-to-back losses, but even with little to play for they seem unlikely to quit on first-year coach John Fox. The Vikings had to rally to win in Chicago last month. One figures the Bears will make them work for it again Sunday, but the Vikings will get the victory.

Three keys

Rested and ready

Injuries forced the Vikings to start four rookies on defense against the Cardinals. But the 10-day layoff since helped on the health front. No, safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Anthony Barr still aren’t ready to play. But safety Andrew Sendejo will play against the Bears, defensive end Everson Griffen is expected to join him, and nose tackle Linval Joseph could also return after practicing Thursday and Friday.

Uncertainty at safety

There has been a revolving door at safety this season, with six different players starting at the two safety spots at different points. Sendejo had been starting next to Smith before knee injuries knocked both out of the lineup. Undrafted rookie Anthony Harris started against the Cardinals along with Terence Newman, who moved from the corner to safety. Coach Mike Zimmer did not tip his hand as to who will start.

Tale of two Teddys

After throwing for only 118 yards in the loss to the Seahawks, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater doubled that total against the Cardinals, throwing for a career-high 335 yards. So which Teddy is going to show up against the Bears? Bridgewater has been better on the road, perhaps because three of those starts were under a roof. But a similarly strong start at TCF on Sunday could help the Vikings clinch a playoff spot.

Player to watch

Alshon Jeffery, Bears Receiver

Catching passes from Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, another Vikings victimizer, the towering Bears wide receiver has 39 catches for 602 yards and five touchdowns in six career games vs. the Vikings. Back in Week 8, the Vikings chose not to have top cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadow Jeffery, which was a surprise. Hopefully for their sake, they will have Rhodes, who has played better of late, follow him around Sunday.