Given the Vikings’ struggles at Soldier Field, and the tall task that awaits them with regard to running the ball against the Bears, it might seem like a stretch to pick them to win in Chicago. But if the Vikings can get the better of Mitchell Trubisky, they could create the turnover to put them over the top.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Big test for the ground game
The Vikings ran the ball 14 times for 22 yards in Chicago last year; they’ll be more committed to it this year, but their task doesn’t get much easier. According to Football Outsiders, the Bears’ run defense last year was the 13th-best in the NFL, dating to 1986.
Cousins vs. Trubisky
Kirk Cousins’ two-interception game at Soldier Field last year was a low point of his first season in Minnesota, while Trubisky threw a crucial end-zone interception in the Bears’ opening loss to the Packers. Both try to answer some of their critics Sunday.
NFC North positioning at stake
Both teams are playing their second division games in the first quarter of the season, with each team having lost to the Packers. The winner will pull even with Green Bay at 3-1; the loser will fall to 2-2 with an 0-2 record in the NFC North.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings offensive line vs. Bears LB Khalil Mack
Mack, who forced six fumbles last season, has already forced three this year, and the Bears will move him around enough that keeping him out of the Vikings’ backfield will be a group effort. He’ll come off both edges, meaning both Riley Reiff and Brian O’Neill will see plenty of him on Sunday.
Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Bears WR Allen Robinson
Robinson’s second year in Chicago has seen him turn into Trubisky’s favorite target, with a team-high 17 catches for 203 yards through three weeks. Robinson caught just one pass against Rhodes for 17 yards in their meeting last year; the physical receiver figures to see plenty of Rhodes’ attention on Sunday.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
12 Number of games (including playoffs) the Bears have gone without giving up 24 points or more at home. The last time they allowed that many was on Nov. 19, 2017, when they gave up 27 in a loss to the Lions.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
They can get an efficient, turnover-free game from Cousins to go with a stable running attack. Piling up yardage on the ground will be difficult against the Bears, but the Vikings will at least need to keep themselves out of third-and-long situations where the Bears can come after Cousins.
THE Bears WILL WIN IF …
Trubisky avoids the big mistakes he’s prone to making, while Chicago’s defense keeps the Vikings from establishing the run. The Bears could look to get Trubisky out and running to keep him away from the Vikings’ pass rush.
Prediction: Vikings, 20-17
Win Probability 55%