It’s Halloween and many of us will be out with our kids trick-or-treating, collecting candy in our favorite costumes.
Monday night at Soldier Field, it’s a big opportunity as the Minnesota Vikings face the Chicago Bears on national television. It’s suddenly become a pretty big game for the Vikings on multiple levels. A victory can do many things: Create some separation in the division, rebuild confidence after the team’s first loss and build momentum for a winnable stretch of games coming up.
Here are four reasons why it’s a big game and what it could mean for the Vikings if they win.
Recover From Loss To Eagles
Let’s face it, the Vikings probably weren’t going 16-0 into the playoffs. But last week’s loss at Philadelphia was concerning on multiple levels. The Vikings made a lot of mental mistakes, but more importantly they were beaten up physically and their offensive line play was awful. That kind of loss leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but beating the Bears is a good way to forget about that performance and move on with the rest of the season.
The Bears are 1-6 and 0-2 in NFC North play. They’ve lost three straight games. It’s as good a time as any to put an early nail in the coffin, and kick an opponent while they are down.
Create NFC North Separation
Monday’s game became bigger for the Vikings after the Green Bay Packers lost at Atlanta on Sunday. The loss puts the Packers at 4-3 on the season. A Vikings victory Monday night gives them a full two-game lead in the NFC North Division race. That lead essentially becomes three games with the Vikings holding the early tiebreaker over the Packers, if it’s needed. Any time you can get a win in the division, it’s a big deal.
Schedule Sets Vikings Up For Success
When Vikings fans took their first look at this year’s schedule, the early part was brutal. We would’ve been happy with a 3-2 start. But they won their first five games, and expectations went to another level. Last week’s loss served as a good reminder to stay humble with expectations after we started talking Super Bowl. But after Monday’s game against the Bears, the Vikings host the Lions, travel to the Redskins, host Arizona and travel to face the Lions on Thanksgiving.
There is a very real chance the Vikings go into their Dec. 1 game against Dallas 10-1. And the Vikings finish the season against the Jaguars, Colts, Packers and Bears. Three of those four are very winnable, and many would argue they can win all of them. Finishing the regular season 13-3 would not only mean a division title, but it would likely mean a first-round bye.
But another loss and the sky is falling among Vikings fans.
Vikings Haven’t Had Much Success In Chicago
Blame the longer turf or just being on the road, but the Vikings rarely play well against the Bears in Chicago. The Vikings escaped Soldier Field with a 23-20 win last year, yes, on a Blair Walsh field goal. Prior to that, Minnesota had lost seven straight games at Chicago.
Jay Cutler is returning from injury for Monday night’s game, and just about anything is possible there. He’s just as capable of throwing three interceptions as he is throwing for three touchdowns. The Vikings know how important this game is for how the rest of their schedule sets up. Every divisional game is huge, and coming of last week’s road disappointment, it shouldn’t take much to have them ready for a rival division opponent on the road.
How the Vikings play Monday night and if they win could determine a lot the rest of the season.