Kansas City (10-4; 9-5 ATS) at Chicago (7-7; 4-10 ATS) (Sunday night)
Early line: Chiefs (minus-4 points). Total: (45)
KC 5TH OFF; CHI 8TH DEF
KC 25TH RUN; CHI 6TH vs. RUN
KC 3RD PASS; CHI 13TH vs. PASS
KC 4TH PTS; CHI 3RD PTS ALLOWED
CHI 28TH OFF; KC 18TH DEF
CHI 29TH RUN; KC 26TH vs. RUN
CHI 25TH PASS; KC 11TH vs. PASS
CHI 26TH PTS; KC 11TH PTS ALLOWED
KC 8TH TO/TA; CHI T17TH TO-TA
Bears lead all-time series 7-5-0 and won most recent game 18-17 at KC Oct. 11, 2015. Chiefs’ 4th-ranked scoring offense (28.1 ppg) goes up against Bears’ 3rd-ranked scoring defense (18.1 ppg), as Bears head coach Matt Nagy faces his mentor, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, at Soldier Field on “Sunday Night Football.”
With stellar TE Travis Kelce leading the way, CHIEFS’ 23-3 Week 15 rout of the division-rival Broncos at a very snowy Arrowhead Stadium allowed them to keep pace in the race for a first-round playoff bye in the AFC.
"Right now it's just a bunch of numbers. Honestly, I'm focused on winning games," said CHIEFS’ Kelce, who had 11-142 receiving vs. Broncos and became the first TE in NFL history with 4 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. "It being a team sport, the individual accolades, you know, I like to kind of push them aside and try to focus on how I can get better for my teammates."
Some of Kelce's best games have come late in the season and in the playoffs, and the CHIEFS could use a few more of them. They need to win their last two games against the Bears and Chargers and hope for the Patriots to lose to get a first-round playoff bye.
QB Patrick Mahomes had 27-34-340-2 TDs-1 INT (115.7 QB rating) while getting sacked 3 times directing CHIEFS offense that gained 419 total yards and converted 6-of-11 3rd downs. Mahomes' 79.4 completion rate vs. Denver was the 2nd best of his career. And he did it despite constant snowfall that made gripping the ball difficult for both him and his receivers.
CHIEFS are still searching for some offensive balance. They ran 25 times for just 92 yards vs. Denver, and their longest run went for just 12 yards. That meager total is offset in part by screen passes, and KC should be a bit more potent once RB Damien Williams returns from his rib injury (check status). But the Chiefs need to have more success on the ground.
Every time LeSean McCoy seems poised to have a breakout game for CHIEFS, the veteran running back gets bottled up. He managed just 16 yards on six carries against the Broncos in the snowy Week 15 conditions.
True to form, CHIEFS WR Tyreek Hill continued to be a major force with 5-67-2 receiving on 7 targets with a long of 41 (TD) in Week 15 win.
But of the utmost importance, the massive offseason overhaul that CHIEFS undertook on defense is finally paying off. The Chiefs have limited their past four opponents to 20 points or fewer, and two of the past three have failed to score 10 points. The Broncos didn't surpass 200 yards until late in the game.
Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill give the CHIEFS perhaps the best set of safeties in the AFC. They were two of K.C.’s three leading tacklers against Denver, Mathieu had a sack and nearly picked off several passes, and Thornhill made an interception in the end zone. They duo also combined to have three passes defensed.
The CHIEFS claimed veteran pass rusher Terrell Suggs off waivers on Monday, filling a massive hole at defensive end after losing Alex Okafor to a torn pectoral muscle a day earlier against the Broncos.
Check status of CHIEFS OL Andrew Wylie, who left Week 15 game late with an ankle injury; and CBs Morris Claiborne (shoulder; DNP in Week 15) and Rashad Fenton (hamstring; DNP in Week 15).
The playoffs are out of the picture for the BEARS after their offense reverted to their inconsistent tendencies much of this season in 21-13 Week 15 road loss to the arch-rival Packers. Despite gaining a season-high 415 yards, Bears managed only one TD in 25 possessions (that’s not a typo).
But Nagy said Monday the BEARS would not sit out starters to look at other players against the Chiefs on Sunday night. Mitchell Trubisky remains at quarterback after his 29-53-334-1 TD-2 INT (64.5 QB rating) Week 15 effort that also included 4-29 rushing, and the idea is to play out the string as if Bears were still competing for a playoff berth.
BEARS’ running attack struggled in Week 15 after two straight games of improvement, preceded by an entire season of being mired. Running backs averaged only 2.9 ypc with 67 yards on 23 attempts. Rookie David Montgomery was limited to 39 yards on 14 runs.
BEARS WRs Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, meanwhile, continued performing quite well. Robinson earned his 2nd 1,000-yard receiving season with 7 catches for 125 yards. He has 1,023 yards, and also achieved a career high in receptions with 83. Miller, who has come on really strong in the last month, had 9-118-1 receiving on 15 targets with a long of 33.
As usual, BEARS’ defense was decent, allowing Packers only 292 total yards, but just one sack with zero takeaways was a significant drawback.
BEARS’ pass defense stood out through much of Week 15 game, as it held GB’s Aaron Rodgers to less than 50 percent completions (16-of-33) and only 203 yards with one touchdown and a QB rating of 78.2. Three completions accounted for 110 yards, so they held Rodgers to 93 yards on his other 13 completions.
But BEARS standout OLB Khalil Mack had only one tackle against the Packers, a TFL. He went without a sack for the seventh time this season and has two sacks in the past six games. Mack is still 2 ½ sacks shy of extending his streak of double-digit sacks to five straight seasons.
BEARS’ Mack has been getting double- and even triple-teamed by blockers. "That's never gonna change for the rest of his career," Nagy said. “Would we love to be able to see more (sacks)? Yeah, but none of it is because of effort or scheme or anything like that. That's just the way it was yesterday.”
Though BEARS escaped without additional reported injuries, concern focuses on DE Akiem Hicks, who came off I.R. to play vs. Packers and wore a large brace on his dislocated left elbow. Hicks left twice in pain to go to the injury tent but returned both times to play. Asked afterward if he'll keep playing with only two meaningless games remaining, Hicks said: "I love the game." (check status).
Green Bay (11-3; 9-5 ATS) at Minnesota (10-4; 8-6 ATS) (Monday Night)
Early line: Vikings (minus-4.5 points). Total: (46.5)
GB 21ST OFF; MIN 14TH DEF
GB 17TH RUN; MIN 8TH vs. RUN
GB 17TH PASS; MIN 20TH vs. PASS
GB 14TH PTS; MIN 6TH PTS ALLOWED
MIN 10TH OFF; GB 23RD DEF
MIN 4TH RUN; GB 24TH vs. RUN
MIN 12TH PASS; GB 22ND vs. PASS
MIN 5TH PTS; GB 9TH PTS ALLOWED
GB 2ND TO/TA; MIN T4TH TO-TA
Packers lead all-time series 61-54-3 and won most recent game 21-16 at Green Bay in first game of these NFC North rivals’ 2019 season series in Week 2 after losing 3 of 4 previous games (teams tied 29-29 in first game of 2018 season series). Vikings outgained Packers 421-335 in first matchup this season (including 198-144 rushing edge) but committed 4 costly turnovers. GB took 21-0 lead early in 2nd quarter, but remained scoreless after that while Vikings reeled off 16 straight points. Green Bay will be playing its first "Monday Night Football" game at Minnesota since 2009.
PACKERS clinched a playoff berth for the first time in three years with their 21-13 Week 15 home win over the division-rival Bears, and they now have sites firmly set on winning NFC North crown.
"It's a good accomplishment," PACKERS head coach Matt LaFleur said on clinching a playoff spot. "That was not our goal, though. Our goal was to win our division, and that's still out there in front of us, so there's still a lot of work left to be done."
QB Aaron Rodgers had a relatively pedestrian 16-33-203-1 TD-0 INTs (78.2 QB rating) directing a PACKERS Week 15 offense that gained only 292 total yards and converted 5-of-15 3rd downs and 1-of-3 4th downs.
But on a very positive note, Rodgers now has 265 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception. That's the third-longest streak in PACKERS team history (Rodgers, 402 attempts in 2018; Bart Starr, 294 attempts in 1964-65).
On the PACKERS' 3 scoring drives in Week 15, the ball touched the hands of WR1 Davante Adams or RB1 Aaron Jones on nine-of-14 plays. Two of the other 5 plays were incompletions intended for Adams. The other 3 were a season-long 17-yard run by Rodgers, a 49-yard pass to WR Jake Kumerow and a 4-yard completion to WR Allen Lazard.
PACKERS’ Adams, who has four TDs in the last four weeks after being shut out of the end zone in his first six outings this season, had 7-103-1 receiving on 13 targets with a long of 34, while Jones had 13-51-2 rushing with a long of 21 in Week 15 win.
But offensively, very little is working for the PACKERS outside of Adams and Jones, which could be a problem in the playoffs if teams figure out how to scheme those two out of LaFleur's offensive game plan.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling played all of seven snaps in Week 15, a season low for the 6-foot-4 speedster, and he dropped what likely would have resulted in a 70-yard touchdown on the PACKERS' first offensive play of the game. His production has plummeted and now he can't even get on the field.
PACKERS’ defense that has had its share of issues all season allowed Bears offense a season-high 415 total yards, but 4th-year DT Kenny Clark has been on an absolute tear of late. Clark tied his single-game career high with two sacks in Week 15, giving him 3 ½ in the last two games and five for the season.
In PACKERS’Week 2 win over Vikings earlier this season, Rodgers had 22-34-209-2 TDs-0 INTs (101.2 QB rating) and a lost fumble, Jones had 23-116-1 rushing with a long of 15 and 4-34 receiving on 6 targets with a long of 15, Adams had 7-106 receiving on 9 targets with a long of 39, WR Geronimo Allison and RB Jamaal Williams each had a TD catch and OLB Preston Smith and CB Kenny King each had an INT.
VIKINGS further solidified their playoff positioning with convincing 39-10 Week 15 road win over Chargers in which the defense forced seven turnovers (3 INTs by 3 different defenders and 4 FRs) and registered 3 sacks.
VIKINGS are one win — or one Rams loss — away from clinching a playoff berth as they sit comfortably as the 6th seed in NFC after LA lost at Dallas. The Vikings could climb to No. 5 in the conference if they win both of their final 2 games, at home vs. GB and Chicago, and Niners lose at home to the Rams and on the road at Seattle.
VIKINGS’ early road loss to the Packers leaves winning the NFC North as a distant possibility because of tiebreakers. Minnesota would need to win both its remaining games and have Green Bay lose its season finale at Detroit.
Keep a close eye on VIKINGS’ ground game moving forward. Second-year RB Mike Boone had eight carries total this season when star RB1 Dalvin Cook was injured early in the third quarter vs. Chargers.
With VIKINGS backup RB Alexander Mattison also out, Boone responded with 13 carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns. The carries and yards were career highs in a game, and the touchdowns were the first of his career.
"I really felt like for a couple weeks, Boone's been wanting to have a chip on his shoulder the way he's been running, showing in practice and the things that he's been doing," VIKINGS head coach Mike Zimmer said.
VIKINGS’ Cook left Week 15 game with a shoulder injury after being on the injury report for a chest injury previously. Zimmer said Monday that it's an injury Cook might be able to play through and said Cook "feels good today (check status)."
VIKINGS’ Cook is still having the best season of his career with 1,135 rushing yards to go with 53 catches for 519 yards, but he doesn't have a 100-yard rushing day since Week 7 at Detroit. In the past six games, he's averaged 3.32 ypc after averaging 5.28 ypc in the first eight games.
VIKINGS’ Mattison was held out of Week 15 game with an ankle injury. He didn't practice at all last week, so Boone could get the call again this Sunday (check statuses).
QB Kirk Cousins had 19-25-207-1 TD-1 INT (96.6 QB rating) directing VIKINGS Week 15 offense that gained 344 total yards and converted 7-of-14 3rd downs. WR Shelton Diggs led Minnesota receivers with 4-76 on 6 targets with a long of 46.
Particularly noteworthy VIKINGS defenders in Week 15 were: DLE Danielle Hunter (a sack, 2 FFs, a FR and 5 tackles), MLB Eric Kendricks (a FF and team-high 7 tackles), SS Harrison Smith (an INT, a FR and 6 tackles), CB Mike Hughes (an INT, 2 PBs and 4 tackles) and DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (a sack and a FR returned 56 yards for a TD).
VIKINGS’ special teams had one of their best games of the season against the Chargers. PK Dan Bailey missed an extra-point attempt, his 4th miss in 42 tries this season, after the Vikings scored on their first possession but came back to hit 4 FGs, continuing his strong season where he's 22-of-24 and 5th in the league with a 91.7% conversion rate. Bailey also hit his final PAT in the game.
In addition, VIKINGS’ Britton Colquitt averaged 51.5 yards per punt and placed both of his punts inside the 5-yard line (he is the only qualifying punter in the NFL to not record a touchback this season), LA averaged just 16.8 yards per KR and to top off the day, Eric Wilson partially blocked a LA punt that traveled just 26 yards.
After their seven takeaways and just one turnover on Cousins' interception in Week 15 win, VIKINGS are now plus-11 in turnover margin this season.
In addition to Cook and Mattison, check status of VIKINGS S Jayron Kearse (toe; DNP in Week 15).
In VIKINGS’ Week 2 loss to Packers earlier this season, Cousins had 14-32-230-1 TD-2 INTs (52.9 QB rating) and 2 fumbles (one lost) in a very lackluster performance; Cook had 20-154-1 rushing, including a 75-yard TD gallop, and 3-37 receiving on 3 targets with a long of 13; WR Adam Thielen had 5-75 receiving on 8 targets with a long of 30; Diggs had one catch (a 45-yard TD) on 7 targets and a lost fumble; and Hunter had a sack, 2 TFLs, 3 hurries and a team-leading 9 tackles.