The Vikings and Bears are set to kickoff in their second tilt of the year Monday night at 7:15 pm local time at US Bank Stadium. In Week 6 the Vikings won a god-awful football game 19-13 in Chicago.
Taking place way back in the days of Kirk Cousins - ah, how long ago that seems - the Vikings controlled the game throughout but never got too far ahead to merit comfort.
Cousins went 21-31 with 182 passing yards and a TD. While he didn't throw a pick, he fumbled the ball twice with the Bears recovering one.
Thankfully, we had a partner in crimes against football that day. Justin Fields went down injured in the 3rd quarter - bringing in undrafted free agent Tyson Bagent, who had most recently played D-II ball. Bagent would finish his first appearance going 10-14/83 yards with a pick and a fumble.
The full drive-by-drive recap should tell you everything you need to know about this game:
Vikings: FG, FG, Punt, Fumble, TD (Blocked XP), Punt, Punt, Missed FG, Punt, Punt, Downs. Win.
Bears: Punt, FG, Punt, FG, Interception, End of Half, Punt, Fumble TD (given up by Tyson Bagent, recovered by Jordan Hicks and returned 42 yards for TD), Downs, Punt, Touchdown, Interception.
It was so bad and the football was so stupid all I could do was laugh.
Things have changed significantly for both teams since then, with both squads objectively playing better football than they did in that game. I doubt we will see such elementary football as we did that day in the Windy City.
Justin Fields returned for the first time last week against Detroit in a very disappointing loss for both the Bears and Vikings. The Bears were leading 26-14 with just 8:45 left in the contest.
The Lions, benefitting from some bad play calling on both sides of the ball, easily marched down to the Chicago endzone, going 75 yards in 1:15. The Bears then only took 26 seconds off the clock, punting the ball away. The Lions would score on their next drive, and to seal the game, caused a walk-off safety when Aidan Hutchinson forced the ball out of Fields’ hands and through the end zone.
It was a very Bears way to lose the game.
Besides the return of Fields, the addition of Montez Sweat and subsequent contract signing will certainly be a difference maker, at least in matching up. Sweat had been a standout performer on an also bad Washington Commanders team, registering 6.5 sacks in 8 games with the Commanders. He has one sack in two games for Chicago, but has been easing his way in to the team with Chicago decidedly not contending.
It seems so, so long ago, doesn’t it? The Vikings had just picked up their 2nd win and stood at 2-4, not looking to contend for a playoff spot and playing the brand of football to match the record and mood of the fanbase.
After the Chicago game though, everything would change. It would end up being the first in a 5-game win streak, but there were still PLENTY of losses to come.
Kirk Cousins would tear his achilles the next week in Green Bay and Cam Akers would do the same a week later in Atlanta. DT Dean Lowry would be another victim of a season-ending injury, suffered against Denver.
KJ Osborn, knocked out of the Atlanta game with a scary concussion, returned against Denver but was only targeted twice in a limited performance. Justin Jefferson remains unlikely to return against the Bears with the bye coming up.
The Vikings, after 3 weeks of absolutely no certainty at their QB Position, now find themselves with Jaren Hall finally out of concussion protocol (suffered in Atlanta) and Nick Mullens being activated off the IR from a back injury.
Both are backing up Josh Dobbs, who will be looking to return to winning ways after his first loss as a Viking. It wasn’t a great night to be Dobbs, who fumbled 3 times (losing one of them) and was intercepted. He still scored a TD through the air and on the ground, but one could tell he was fighting it a bit in the mile-high city.
Dobbs is technically 1-1 (functionally 2-1) on the year and overall enjoying a stellar start to his time in Minnesota with 4 passing TDs and 3 rushing TDs. He’s thrown one pick but as went 63-96 and 647 yards through the air and 131 yards on 23 attempts, with 10 first downs and 5.7 Y/A.
Chicago will definitely have a different defensive plan going into this one with the mobility of Dobbs considered. The Vikings will also look to get more out of Alexander Mattison, who is in some kind of funk this year, having a terrible season with only 542 yards on 148 attempts (3.7 Y/A), 0 rushing TDs, and 2 fumbles (among some other shaky play).
Fortunately, it is the Bears we’re talking about. Unfortunately, sworn mortal enemy Sean Payton may have showed them a good game plan to limit Dobbs and the rest of the Vikings offense.
Alexander Mattison also needs to have a strong showing on Monday night - even if he had an ‘alright’ performance of 81 yards on 18 attempts he still gave the ball away at a crucial time and is just not looking like the guy this season. If he can turn it around then that will add a much needed addition to the Vikings offense.
Offseason free agent signing EDGE Marcus Davenport underwent surgery a week ago for a high ankle sprain but is hopeful to return this season.