The meeting will be the 104th ever between the two NFC North rivals. The Bears trail the all-time series 49-52-2.
The Bears beat the Vikings two weeks ago 28-10 at Soldier Field.
The Bears are coming off a tough 23-17 overtime loss against the Seahawks. They blew a 14-10 lead with roughly four minutes left in the game.
The Vikings are coming off a 23-14 loss against the Packers. They have dropped two straight games after posting a 6-4 record prior to their Week 11 bye week.
The Bears currently hold the top wild card spot in the NFC. If the season ended today they would travel to New York to battle the Giants (7-5).
They are tied with the Packers in the NFC North, but Green Bay holds the tiebreaker winning the Week Three matchup against the Bears and holding a better record against NFC North opponents.
With three of four games against the NFC North left on the schedule for the Bears, the final stretch is crucial for them.
The Bears’ defense allows 16.5 ppg which ranks second in the league, while its offense ranks 13th in the league with 24.5 ppg.
The Vikings’ defense allows 22.7 ppg which ranks 18th in the league, while its offense ranks 18th in the league with 21.8 ppg.
Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has been ruled out and could be out up for the rest of the season with a Grade 2 hamstring injury he suffered a week ago.
Cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) and WR Earl Bennett (concussion) have both been ruled out after suffering injuries against the Seahawks.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea (foot), running back Michael Bush (ribs), guard Chris Spencer (knee) were all limited in practice this week and are questionable to play. Expect Paea and Bush to suit up, while Spencer spends the rest of this week getting his knee back to full strength.
Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester are set to return this week after putting a full practice in on Friday. Offensive lineman Gabe Carimi was limited with a hamstring injury on Wednesday and Thursday, but practiced in full on Friday and will start at right guard.
Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin was put on injured reserve Thursday with an ankle injury and his presence will be greatly missed on offense for Minnesota.
Defensive end Jared Allen sat out of practice Wednesday and Thursday with a back injury, but practiced in full on Friday and will start in this game.
Linebacker Jasper Brinkley (shoulder), tackle Phil Loadholt (knee), tight end Kyle Rudolph (shoulder), center John Sullivan (ribs/knee) all practiced in full on Friday after being limited the prior two days. All four Vikings are probable and will suit up on Sunday.
The Bears will win if?
The Bears will win if they can get a consistent pass rush on defense. With the Vikings relying heavily on running back Adrian Peterson as of late and likely in this one the Bears’ defense has to get into the backfield often. They will force Ponder to throw which should be the plan considering the Vikings won’t have the services of Percy Harvin. A solid rushing attack on offense with a healthy Matt Forte will help the Bears win the time of possession battle. Getting wide receiver Alshon Jeffery back from a knee injury will help this offense get things going.
The Bears will lose if?
The Bears will lose if they can’t run effectively. We’ve seen at times Matt Forte hasn’t been the same back as years past. Adrian Peterson has had a great success against the Bears in his career and he will likely get 20-25 carries with the Vikings’ passing game struggling. The Bears are banged up on defense and the Vikings will try to attack the middle of the field where Brian Urlacher usually to hover around. Getting off to a slow start will also plague the Bears. We’ve seen that often in their four previous games.
Players who must step up:
1. Geno Hayes- He moves into the starting lineup as the strongside linebacker with Nick Roach moving to the middle for the injured Brian Urlacher . Hayes has eight tackles this season playing mostly on special teams. He has had success in the past playing in the Cover 2 with Tampa Bay. He will have to be steady if he wants to keep his job because if he can’t the Bears’ defense could be in trouble.
Prediction: Six tackles.
2. Alshon Jeffery- The rookie returns at a perfect time. With Earl Bennett out with a concussion and Devin Hester returning from a concussion, Jeffery will be counted on to contribute plenty on offense. The question is can he handle that much responsibility after sitting out with a minor knee injury. Look for him to be targeted plenty with Cutler’s second favorite target in Bennett out of action.
Prediction: Five catches, 62 yards.
3. Nate Collins- He has been a pleasant surprise on defense this season. The third-year pro out of Virginia has eight tackles and one pass deflection in six games this season. He impressed the Bears so much that they released Amobi Okoye. Collins doesn’t have the stats to show for his hard work. He has often been there for a key pressure however. Look for him to come up with a couple of nice plays with Stephen Paea playing battling a foot injury.
Prediction: Three tackles, one fumble recovery.
Jake Perper: Chicago Bears 24, Minnesota Vikings 17.
Matt Eurich: Chicago Bears 20, Minnesota Vikings 17.