The PFW Chicago staff predictions for Bears vs. Vikings at Soldier Field on Sunday night:
Folks, I would dearly love to pick the Bears in this one, and I do believe there's a good chance they will win.
Both coaching staffs are impressive.
Kirk Cousins and Mitch Trubisky are both playing at a high level, but Cousins has done it much longer and in much bigger games.
Both receiving corps are excellent, but Minnesota gets an edge on the ground with a healthy Dalvin Cook for the first time in a while and a great change of pace in Latavius Murray.
Bears DBs are playing really well right now, but the Vikings' group is deeper and more proven, and I give the Bears a solid edge at linebacker.
Both kicking games are adventures, and both offensive lines are average at best, while both clubs have excellent fronts on defense.
But up front on defense is where I expect this game to turn, as I really think Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Sheldon Richardson and Danielle Hunter form the best D-line in the game, and I don't know how the Bears are going to handle them.
I expect this to be worthy of primetime, but the Vikings are slightly more talented, have turned a corner, winning four of their past five after a rough start, and they're coming off a bye. One too many points in the Vikings' favor.
Vikings 24, Bears 23
The Vikings have regrouped after winning just once in four September games and are beginning to look more like the Super Bowl contender that many predicted after last year’s 13-3 campaign. They’ve won four of their last five, although none of their victims have a winning record. But they have regained the services of big-play RB Dalvin Cook, and coming off last week’s bye should get key players like WR Stefon Diggs, LB Anthony Barr and S Andrew Sendejo back after they’ve missed varying amounts of time recently.
The Bears are on their second three-game win streak of the season, but all three of those most recent victories have come against teams with losing records. Still, the 6-3 Bears hold the upper hand in the NFC North standings heading into this showdown against the 5-3-1 visitors from Minnesota. As impressive as QB Mitch Trubisky has been in his first year in Matt Nagy’s system, he’ll face perhaps his toughest test yet against a Vikings defense that appears to be peaking. This might be the game where the Bears’ inability to run the ball proves to be a fatal flaw.
Vikings 23, Bears 20
The Bears are three-point favorites vs. the reigning division champs in a first-place battle flexed into primetime? Fun! And it’ll be even more fun for Bears fans come Sunday night, when their pass rush is the difference in a clash of two elite defenses and mediocre O-lines, with only one carrying its weight in pass pro — the Bears’.
Kirk Cousins has mostly been excellent despite his leaky protection, but he’s struggled in one key area — a league-leading six lost fumbles. And the Bears are No. 2 in the NFL in takeaways, which will be a big key here, much like in the Vikings' last defeat.
Minnesota is playing great defensively, but Mitch Trubisky is on fire and has the wealth of weaponry to adjust if, say, Xavier Rhodes takes Allen Robinson away. It says here the flavors of this week on offense will be Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen, and the Vikings won’t be able to block Khalil Mack and Co.
Remember, Trubisky played relatively well vs. this defense in his starting debut in primetime last season. And this time it’ll be Cousins, not Trubisky, with the costly late turnover, tipping the scales toward the Bears.
Bears 24, Vikings 21
I think the Bears can move the ball if they're effective on first and second downs because you don't want to get to third down against this defense. Only the Saints really have done anything on third downs against this team, so Matt Nagy will have to be aggressive throwing the ball and getting the Vikings back on their heels a bit.
I see this as an Anthony Miller game if he's matched up with Mackensie Alexander in the slot. That's maybe the best matchup the Bears could have going unless they can isolate Tarik Cohen against, say, Vikings LB Anthony Barr in space.
Kirk Cousins should be able to have some success throwing the ball against this Bears defense, as good as it has been, but I also think the Bears can create some turnovers in the passing game and not be too concerned about any threats Dalvin Cook and the run game will provide.
As long as the Bears don't have a meltdown on special teams, I think this is a game they can win. It's probably their biggest primetime game against a division opponent in five years, and the atmosphere promises to be good. The Bears have played well at home, which is a nice change from recent years.
Bears 27, Vikings 24