By James Hill – Minnesota Vikings Writer
Minnesota Vikings Preview Week 4:- @ Chicago
Minnesota Vikings (2-1) last result:- 34-14 W vs Oakland
Chicago Bears (2-1) last result:- 31-15 W vs Washington
Last season record:- Vikings 0-2 vs Chicago
Last Seasons Result:- 25-20 L
Current NFC North Standings:-
- Green Bay Packers 3-0
- Detroit Lions 2-0-1
- Minnesota Vikings 2-1
- Chicago Bears 2-1
For the second time in three weeks, the Vikings are on the road against a divisional rival, in what is very much a must-win game for the Purple People Eaters.
Last season this game set a tone, with the Bears going into the Playoffs at the expense of the Vikings following a close game at the stomping ground of a very, very formidable Bears team, but at the same time this is an incredibly different Minnesota Viking’s team making the frosty trip to the land of the Deep Dish Pizza (and for all you Chicago fans reading, let’s just say New York style is better).
Last year, rather notably, the Vikings rushed for seven touchdowns and had a Big Play probability of around 6.1% under DeFilippo, which also ranked 31st in the NFL. Now, under Kevin Stefanski and Gary Kubiack, the Vikings are one touchdown away from drawing level with this (by Week Four) and have a Big Play probability of 18.2%, ranking 2nd in the NFL.
Despite this, the Week 2 showing against Green Bay proved this can be a stumbling block for the team, as they slumped to a 21-0 deficit 44 seconds into 2nd quarter. The Vikings need an offense similar to the one that’s shown up against the Falcons and Raiders, breaking out to their own 21-0 leads, instead of falling behind so early. This is game also comes at great timing for Dalvin Cook, who is clearly showcasing the talent we all knew he has, as he is currently the leading rusher in the NFL with 375 Yards. The Running Back has also acquired four touchdowns to sit 2nd in the table in that category.
Another big plus for the Vikings has been the emergence of Alexander Mattison for the run game, Mattison scored his first touchdown of his rookie career last year, so the establishing of the rushing side of the offence (which was non-existent in the Week 11 game last year) means that Kirk Cousins will be sacked or even pressured much less this time around.
However, the Chicago defence is formidable and proves an excellent roadblock in the quest to go 3-1. Last year, the Bears pressured Cousins 17 times in the 25-20 loss on the road, the 2nd most in a game for Cousins up until that point, which led to a season-high of 20% of passes going incomplete. This is mainly due to the presence of possibly the most dominant defensive player in the entire NFL not playing in Los Angeles in Khalil Mack. Mack went for three tackles, two sacks, and three forced fumbles against the Washington Redskins, and former Vikings QB Case Keenum, proved once again how much of a force Mack is on the pass rush.
Mack is just one piece huge pieces of Chicago’s secondary which also includes HaHa Clinton-Dix who had a career day at Safety, Clinton-Dix recorded two interceptions returned for 96 Yards combined and one Pick Six. Similarly, the Bears offence seems to be finding its rhythm after a lacklustre Week 1 vs the Green Bay Packers, where they slumped to a 13-3 Loss, but this is debatable.
The two wins the Bears have recorded have come against questionable defences, where they needed a last-minute Field Goal against the Denver Broncos in Week 2 and a shell-shocked Defence vs Washington in Week 3, and whilst Trubisky has thrown three touchdowns this season, all three were against Washington, so there are still questions about the overall quality of the offence when against capable secondary’s (sorry guys).
Trubisky will face a nightmare against this Vikings secondary, who are tied with Carolina Panthers for tackles for loss (currently at 19) and a front seven that just loves to record sacks, with each of Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter carrying at least 2.0 sacks into Week 4 of the season, against an O-Line that allowed eight sacks on Trubisky through weeks 1-3 (5 of which came in Week 1 vs GB). The Vikings have also recorded, on average, one interception each game alongside just over 3 sacks per game.
This game will be amazing from a defensive standpoint, so it’s up to both QB’s to bring the best out of their teams against formidable opposition.
In conclusion, defence will be key but the true test to unlock this game will be how well the offences can truly play out against such formidable competition.
Prediction: Vikings 17 Bears 10, it’s going to be really, really close but I hope we go 3-1, so I know so.
(Feature Photo – Credit: Jeffrey Becker/USA Today Sports)