Two ingredients that help win championships are officially on the Vikings' side: a first-round bye and a dominating defense.
Minnesota again used the latter to secure the former in a 23-10 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday to improve to 13-3 and lock up the conference's second seed. The 13 wins are the franchise's most since 1998, when the 15-1 Vikings under Randall Cunningham and Dennis Green advanced to the NFC championship game.
Minnesota held the Bears to just one third-down conversion and prevented the visitors from crossing midfield until the fourth quarter. Chicago's top-10 run game was stoned, managing just 30 yards on 15 carries. The Vikings surrendered a season-low 3.8 yards per play. Indeed, it was a continuation of a frighteningly effecitve season for Mike Zimmer's 'D,' No. 1 in a host of categories, including third downs and points allowed.
Over the past three games, the Vikings held the Bears, Packers and Bengals to a combined 17 points and six third-down conversions.
There were bright spots offensively, too. Case Keenum rebounded from a down outing last Saturday to complete 21-of-29 for 189 yards and a touchdown, a 15-yarder to Stefon Diggs — his eighth of the season to double his previous high and tie Kyle Rudolph for the team lead.
And Latavius Murray notched his second 100-rushing yard day with the Vikings, a 20-111-2 effort as part of Minnesota's 147-yard day.
Unlike the top-seeded Eagles, who enter the bye week with concerns about their backup QB, NIck Foles, the Vikings are playing exceptionally well behind Keenum and with the NFL's stingiest 'D' heading into the new year.