Who said the Bears are getting all the breaks this season? For at least the second time in 2018, a rival Viking took home NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors when a Bears defender was also more than worthy of the award.
Vikings LDE Danielle Hunter was named the conference's top defender of Week 9, when he tallied a career-high 3 ½ sacks en route to a Vikings franchise record of 10 in the 24-9 win over the Detroit Lions. Hunter, who leads the NFL with 11 ½ sacks, added a career-high nine tackles in a truly dominant effort to help Minnesota improve to 5-3-1 and remain on the heels of the first-place Bears in the North.
Like Hunter, Bears CB Kyle Fuller played perhaps his finest NFL game Sunday in Buffalo, where the Bears defense outscored the Bills in a 41-9 rout. Fuller tied a career-high with three passes defensed — all of them resulting in interceptions, including his NFL co-leading fourth pick. Fuller added three tackles and continued playing an all-around game that should earn him not only consideration for his first Pro Bowl but the All-Pro team.
Remember, in Week 1, it was Harrison Smith, not Khalil Mack, taking home NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. In his Bears debut, Mack played one of the more impressive 30 minutes of football by an individual defender in years, tallying a sack, forced fumble and pick-six. However, he disappeared late as the Bears squandered a huge lead in Green Bay, while Smith notched the game-sealing interception as part of his 7-tackle outing in Minnesota's win over the Niners.
One week later, Danny Trevathan would take home the award, the first by a Bear since Eddie Jackson in Week 7 last season.
The Bears host the Vikings a week from Sunday in the primetime flex game, their first opportunity to exact some revenge in the form of taking something a lot bigger that currently belongs to Minnesota. The Bears and Vikings are neck in neck in more than the standings. Chicago currently ranks fifth in total defense, one spot ahead of No. 6 Minnesota. More surprisingly, the Bears are comfortably ahead of Kirk Cousins' Vikings in most categories on offense.
The individual honors won't help rekindle this rivalry as much as the Bears continuing to lead their division and making their third regular-season finale against Minnesota in the past four seasons matter for a change. The Vikings have won seven of the past 10 meetings. Will this season be different?
The other players to take home hardware in Week 9: Saints WR Michael Thomas and Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt on offense; Hunter and Chargers DB Desmond King on defense; and 49ers P Bradley Pinion and Dolphins P Matt Haack on special teams.