Vikings: 3 keys to defeating Chicago

This Nov. 18, 2018, file photo shows Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) pursuing Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago. Photo: AP Photo/David Banks, File
This Nov. 18, 2018, file photo shows Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) pursuing Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago.

December 29, 2018 09:26 PM

In what is the most important matchup of the 2018 season, the Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1) play host to NFC North rival Chicago Bears (11-4) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:25 p.m. 

The Vikings have a playoff birth on the line. If they win, they are in. If they lose, they will need the Philadelphia Eagles to lose to the Washington Redskins to still make the sixth playoff spot. 

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RELATED: Vikings head coach Zimmer previews Chicago Bears game

Minnesota also has a chance to claim the fifth playoff spot if they defeat Chicago and the Arizona Cardinals win against the Seattle Seahawks.

Here are the three keys to victory against the first-place Bears on Sunday.

Keep Trubisky in the Pocket

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is just as much of a threat running the ball than he is passing.

At Soldier Field earlier in the season, Trubisky ran 10 times for 41 yards. A lot of his damage came on a drive in the second quarter, which ended with Trubisky throwing a touchdown pass to Anthony Miller to give the Bears an 11-0 lead.

“He really got out on us a couple times on third down earlier in the game in Chicago,” Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “Also, first and second down. He can find a seam, he’s gotten a lot more comfortable with what they do schematically and with how they’re using their different personnel, so we’ve got to be very disciplined in our rush lanes and hopefully get out and execute the game plan.”

On the season, Trubisky has run for 405 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and scored three rushing touchdowns. 

Keep Khalil Mack Away From Kirk Cousins

This is an easier said than done scenario. In the 13 games he’s played this season, Mack has 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. Mack had a sack and forced a fumble in the Vikings’ earlier match-up against the Bears this season.

“He is a great player. He is a great combination of size, athleticism, power [and] effort,” Vikings interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said on Thursday. “Just turn the tape on. He is an impressive player. He certainly is someone that we have to account for in a bunch of different ways.”

Mack is a nightmare in third-and-long situations, so success on first and second downs will be a key on Sunday.

Get Adam Thielen Involved Early

Vikings Pro-Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen is enjoying a remarkable season, snagging 110 passes, 1,335 yards and nine touchdowns. However, he’s been relatively quiet the last few games.

After double-digit targets in each of the Vikings' first seven games of the season, Thielen only has 15 targets over the last three games. Sunday could be another breakout game for Thielen, with the Bears likely without Pro-Bowl safety Eddie Jackson due to an ankle injury.

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