Posted on November 15, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, as longtime rivals that play twice a season, are quite familiar with each other. But when the two meet in Chicago Sunday night, what is at stake will be something that the duo are not all too familiar with—the division lead.
Green Bay has been the top dog in the NFC North for years. Last season, the Vikings won the division and so far, it looks like it could be Chicago’s turn this season. But not if the Vikings have anything to say about it.
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In a way, both teams have been a work in progress throughout the season. Second-year Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been improving throughout the season. As his game has improved, so has the production of the Bears offense. Last year, they were one of the lowest scoring offenses in the league (29th; 16.5 points/game).
So far, this season, they are one of the league’s most productive offenses (29.9 points/game; fifth).
While the maturation of Trubisky has been instrumental to the success of the offense, the last-minute trade for linebacker Khalil Mack is the reason the defense has played so well. The addition of Mack to a defense that was already good has turned the unit into one of the league’s best (fourth in points/game allowed; second against the run; fourth in total yards allowed).
But the Bears are going to have their hands full with Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. While he is a veteran, Cousins is new to the Vikings offense. While there were some early growing pains, the offense has looked good overall. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Cousins has one of the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL to work with in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
They, like the Bears, have struggled to run the ball. But they have had more success doing so the last few weeks. But with the Bears run defense ranked No. 2 and the Vikings run defense ranked No. 3 in the league, neither team will probably have much success running this week.
That means both teams are going to lean on their passing games and their passing defense in order to win the game.
Mitchell Trubisky appears to be a promising young quarterback and he has some young, talented players surrounding him. But he is playing a really good defense this week and it is not going to be easy to get the ball moving.
Kirk Cousins is a more seasoned quarterback but has been in his offense less time than Trubisky has been in his. The Bears defense is formidable as well, and he will have his hands full trying to move the ball against them.
The difference here could come down to who makes, or forces, the most mistakes. The Vikings have turned the ball over more (13 times; Bears have 11). But the Bears are forcing a lot more (24 compared to 14 for the Vikings).
Take the Bears to win but it will be a close one, so don’t expect them to cover the spread (-2.5).