November 18, 2018 04:06 PM
The Minnesota Vikings travel to Chicago Sunday to take on the division-leading Bears. Kickoff is slated for 7:20 p.m.
Here are three keys to a Vikings victory Sunday night.
Keep Khalil Mack Away from Kirk Cousins
Chicago’s defense transformed into one of the league’s best after they traded for outside linebacker Khalil Mack before the season. Mack is one of the leading candidates for NFL Defensive Player of the Year with seven sacks in the seven games he’s played this season. Mack also leads the NFL with four forced fumbles and has even returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Bears don’t make it easy for teams to set up blocking schemes for Mack, either. They move him around a lot so he can create problems for either of the Vikings’ offensive tackles.
“That is the number one thing we need to see is, 'Where is he?'” Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said on Thursday. “We are going to have ways to protect both sides. I don’t want to get too much into scheme before the game but I think our plan will be solid. I know our plan will be solid.”
If the Vikings can take Mack out of the equation, they should be alright. The rest of the Bears defense only has 11 sacks all season.
Win the Turnover Game
The takeaway/giveaway factor is always magnified in divisional road games, so the Vikings need to take care of the football. They’ve done a good job of that in Mike Zimmer’s previous trips to Soldier Field. In the Vikings’ last four games in Chicago, they’ve only turned the ball over a total of four times.
The Bears’ defense thrives on turnovers. They are second in the NFL with 24 takeaways (16 interceptions, eight fumble recoveries). Chicago leads the NFL with a +13 takeaway/giveaway margin. The Vikings are in the middle of the league with a +1 turnover differential.
Keep Tarik Cohen Bottled Up in the Passing Game
Much like how the Saints used Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the passing game against the Vikings in week 8, look for the Bears to get the ball to Tarik Cohen in a similar fashion.
Cohen has 37 catches for 435 yards and three receiving touchdowns this season. He’s a threat to break it all the way every time he touches the ball – evidenced by his 70-yard touchdown catch-and-run against the Jets.
“They used him a lot last year. Totally different scheme, but you saw his skill set to be out in space as a receiver, you saw him in the backfield with the toughness to run between the tackles, the vision to be able to bounce or cut back to get on the perimeter,” Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards said on Thursday.
“They’re using it in a lot of different ways. Rarely similar, he’s going to be a receiver now, he can be a tailback where he’s back there getting the handoff. In empty he’s out there isolated one-on-one. You’ve definitely got to do a good job of the matchups and be careful with what you’re asking them to do.”
Last season Cohen had seven catches in two games against the Vikings, but they went for a total of only 13 yards.
Updated: November 18, 2018 04:06 PM
Created: November 17, 2018 08:08 PM
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