When: 7:15 p.m. Monday, Soldier Field
TV (radio): Ch. 5, ESPN (100.3-FM)
Line: Vikings by 6

The Vikings' fifth night game at Soldier Field in six years is pivotal to their playoff chances. They're facing a Bears team missing its entire starting secondary because of COVID-19, and they should have the ability to bait rookie quarterback Justin Fields into turnovers with their coverage disguises. It should be enough to get them back to .500 before games against the Rams and Packers.


Final sprint for the playoffs
The Vikings returned from a mini-bye after a Thursday night win over the Steelers, and are still in prime position to claim the NFC's final playoff spot with a strong finish over their last four games. They won at Soldier Field last year for just the fourth time in the 21st century, and will face the 4-9 Bears for the first time this season on Monday night.

Bears among the teams reeling from COVID-19
The Vikings put six players on the COVID-19 list last week, but they're still in better shape than the Bears, who have 14 players on the list and spent the week without all three of their coordinators (offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, defensive coordinator Sean Desai and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor). The NFL's postponement of the Seahawks-Rams game until Tuesday puts the Vikings in a rare situation: They'll come off a Monday night game with more rest than their next opponent — the Rams, who visit U.S. Bank Stadium next Sunday.

Vikings facing Fields for the first time
Sources said last April the Vikings made an attempt to trade up for Fields in the first round of the draft, though they ultimately did not make a strong enough offer to move up from 14th overall and get him. Instead, they'll face him for the first of two matchups over the next four weeks, possibly needing to beat him twice to claim the final wild-card spot. His position coach? Former Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who could end up calling plays Monday night, in the same stadium where Mike Zimmer's criticism of him became public in 2018.


Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. whoever's left in the Bears secondary
The Vikings picked on Jaylon Johnson in the first matchup between the teams last year, with Jefferson catching five passes for 91 yards against him, and when Johnson went on the COVID-19 list on Sunday, it created an even more difficult situation for the Bears secondary as it tries to slow down Jefferson. He's had at least nine targets in each of the Vikings' past five games, and has caught 39 passes for 656 yards and four touchdowns in that time.

Vikings defense vs. Bears QB Justin Fields
Minnesota's pass rush will have to be aware of Fields, who's shown he's not afraid to take off and run if he can't find an open read. But Chicago doesn't have as many designed runs for its rookie QB as, say, the Ravens do for Lamar Jackson. Fields has thrown 10 interceptions in nine games, and if the Vikings can take advantage of his inexperience, they could put themselves in position for a turnover or two with coverage disguises.


8-3: The Vikings' record against rookie QBs in Mike Zimmer's eight years as head coach. The only quarterbacks to beat the Vikings as rookie starters in that time are Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott in 2016 and Josh Allen in 2018.


Their offensive line can handle itself in an assignment that gets tougher if Akiem Hicks is back at defensive tackle, Kirk Cousins gets chances to pick on a Bears secondary that's been decimated by COVID-19 and the Vikings can make Fields uncomfortable in his first matchup against them.


They get the kinds of big plays they created against Green Bay last Sunday — after weeks of not being able to produce on offense — and can do enough to slow Dalvin Cook down that the Vikings have to work out of difficult second- and third-down situations and have fewer opportunities to pick apart the Bears' defensive backfield. They'll also need Fields to avoid the turnovers he's committed throughout the season and properly diagnose coverages that could shift after the snap.


Vikings 31, Bears 17