The 2018 season will come to an end on Sunday for the Chicago Bears as they will battle the Minnesota Vikings on the road. At stake for Chicago will be a chance to clinch the second seed with a win and a Los Angeles Rams loss.
Minnesota can clinch their own playoff spot with a win forcing a rematch with the Bears next week. Here are five keys to victory for the Bears against the Vikings.
Coach with Conviction
Head coach Matt Nagy plans to play his starters and play for a win. The length or how hard the starters play will depend not on the Bears game, but the Rams game as if it appears that the Bears do not have a chance at the second seed, Nagy will pull his starters. Pulling his starters if there is nothing to play for is fine, but putting in a generic gameplan would be the wrong choice.
If the Bears head coach plans to play the game to win he needs to get his players ready as if there is much more at stake for them. Having his team go out an go through the motions leaves his roster at a greater risk of injury.
Trubisky’s second chance
Although the Bears were victorious in the two teams’ first match back in November, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky did not play well. Trubisky only passed for 165 yards and was intercepted twice on overthrown passes. It’s imperative for him to have a quality game not just to end his season on a high note, but to build confidence going into the playoffs.
Minnesota’s pass defense has been dominant since playing Chicago five weeks ago as they have just one game of 200 passing yards.
Run towards the playoffs with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen
As good as the Vikings pass defense has been, their rushing defense has performed the opposite. The Vikings defense has allowed 150 rushing yards in three of their last five games. Back in December, the Bears rushed for 160 yards as running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 90 yards.
Running the ball provides multiple on Sunday as it not only could be a strength but also help reduce the risk of injury for others on the offense.
Same Team New Look provides a great test for Bears offense
The Vikings fired their offensive coordinator Jon Defilippo two weeks ago following several weeks of iept offensive play. Since firing him, the Vikings offense has played better averaging 34 points and 378 total yards in two games.
It provides a great task for the Bears defense as they will face the same personnel, but face a different scheme.
The best way to counteract that is consistent and reliable pressure. In their first game, the Bears sacked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins twice. In Minnesota’s last loss to the Seattle Seahawks two weeks ago, he was sacked twice also.
Limited the Vikings two-headed ground attack
Although the Vikings have struggled on offense, they have been consistent when running the ball with running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. Minnesota has rushed for 90 yards or more in four of their five games since playing Chicago. Rushing touchdowns have been limited as their two running backs have combined for just three scores in those five games.
The Bears rushing defense ranks second in the league against the rush as opponents are averaging just 81 yards per game this season. Limiting the Vikings run game could force them to throw more create more openings more opportunities for sacks and interceptions.