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Vikings: 3 keys to victory against the Bears

FILE PHOTO: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to throw a pass over Chicago Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Minneapolis. Photo: AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
FILE PHOTO: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to throw a pass over Chicago Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Minneapolis.

Updated: September 29, 2019 10:28 AM

KSTP provides a week-to-week preview for each Minnesota Vikings game. Coming off a 34-14 win against Oakland, the Vikings visit Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday. 

Here are three keys to a Vikings win:

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1. Win the 3rd down battle

The Vikings and Bears have similar offensive philosophies that revolve around grinding away the run game to set-up play-action passes.  Those game plans will be put to the test against two of the best defenses in the NFL, so being able to move the chains and keep drives alive will be even more important than most weeks.

Chicago has the third best 3rd down defense in the NFL (22.86%) while the Vikings rank fourth (29.41%) through the first three weeks of the season.  Both teams' offense are around the middle of the pack in 3rd down conversions with the Vikings ranking 13th (43.75%) and the Bears coming in at #20 (35.90%).

The Vikings will stress avoiding big losses on 1st and 2nd down at Soldier Field.

"We can overcome first and 20, but we don’t want to," Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said. "We have to play with clean technique to stay out of those situations, but as an offense our mentality is whatever the situation we’re presented with, let’s overcome it. Sometimes that’s on a first and long, sometimes that’s on a third and long. It’s not a give up down for us, so we kind of have a mentality as a group that we’re trying to do anything it takes to get us back to a manageable third down when you’re put in those scenarios."

2. More targets for Diggs & Thielen

With the Vikings moving to a run-first offense this season, there's been less production from their talented receiving duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.

In 2018, Thielen went over 100-yards receiving in the first eight games of the season, but has yet to hit the 100-yard mark this season.

Diggs' numbers are also way down. Through three games last season, Diggs had 16 catches for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns. This year, Diggs only has 6 catches on 12 targets for 101 and one score.

Chicago is only allowing 68.7 yards per game on the ground this season, so if the Vikings don't have the same kind of success running the ball than they've had in the first three games, look for Diggs and Thielen to be much more involved in the offense.

3. Avoid turnovers at all costs

In two home games this season, the Vikings haven't turned the ball over, but their only road game was a different story. Kirk Cousins lost a fumble and was intercepted twice, including one pick in the end zone, as the Vikings committed four turnovers in a 21-16 loss at Green Bay.

Chicago's defense is an opportunistic bunch. They've forced six turnovers over the last two games and defensive end Khalil Mack is a nightmare for every offensive tackle. He's already forced three fumbles in the first three games this season after forcing six fumbles in 2018.

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