Playoff picture: Bears still hopeful of a first round playoff bye

Sports

This final week of the regular season still has a lot of meaning for the Bears. The number two seed in the NFC is still in play. The Bears can claim that if they can get a win at Minnesota Sunday and if the Rams get upset by the 49ers. Both of those things need to happen.

Coach Nagy again insists that the Bears will be all-in trying to get that number two seed saying “You understand that when you’re in the position that we’re in right now anything can happen to these other teams. You can’t just say, ‘This team is going to win’ or ‘This team is going to lose.’ Anything can happen.”

The Vikings will have everything on the line in this game. If they lose they probably won’t make the playoffs. If they win they’ll clinch a wildcard spot and a possible rematch against the Bears in the first round.

When these two teams first met on November 18 at Soldier Field the Bears came away with a 25-20 win. Eddie Jackson had a key pick-six of Kirk Cousins in the fourth quarter of that game. It was one of two interceptions the Bears defense came up with.

The Vikings have been playing with urgency the last two weeks and they’ve been playing some of their best football. They crushed the Dolphins two weeks ago 41-17. Last Sunday they won in Detroit 27-9. Kirk Cousins passed for 253 yards and three touchdowns. He had his best statistical game of the season.

This game Sunday will feature two of the top defenses in the NFL. The Bears are ranked fourth overall. The Vikings are ranked third overall. And here’s where the Bears have to be concerned. The Vikings lead the NFL in sacks with 50. Think how good the Bears’ pass rush has been this season. Well the Vikings have four more sacks than the Bears have. That puts in perspective what the Vikings are doing. So the pressure will be on the Bears’ offensive line and on Mitch Trubisky to remain poised and not make bad decisions.

The kicking game could also be big in this game. Cody Parkey missed his seventh field goal try of the season last week. He has not be consistent.

The other big factor will be the noise level in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota. That crowd will be at fever pitch knowing that a playoff birth will on the line for the Vikings.

Keep in mind the starting time for this game has been changed from noon central time to 3:25 central time to accommodate national television. That’s how big this game will be.

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