Week 17 Tale of the Tape: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
- QuarterbackThe Bears are finishing out another miserable season and it seems certain that this will be head coach John Fox’s final game on the Chicago sidelines. General manager Ryan Pace is expected to remain in charge, and that’s because he drafted Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears look at Trubisky as the key to their future, and Pace is likely to have a job until Trubisky proves he is not a worthy NFL quarterback.The Vikings are going into the playoffs as one of the NFL’s elite teams, and the primary reason they earned that status is the play of backup quarterback Case Keenum, who has exceeded all expectations since taking over for Sam Bradford. Keenum has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 3,353 yards with 21 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
- OffenseThe Bears have one of the most stagnant offensive teams because their crew of wide receivers has been woefully inadequate. The Bears brought in a fine receiver in former Chargers Dontrelle Inman, and it would not be a surprise if he is back next year. The rest of the WR crew offers little to Trubisky. The running game is in fine shape with Jordan Howard.The Vikings have had quite a bit of improvement from their offensive line this year, and that’s one of the primary reasons for the team’s success. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are both excellent wide receivers, and tight end Kyle Rudolph has excellent hands and is a key third-down performer. Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have done a fine job at the running back position.
- DefenseThe Bears showed signs of becoming an excellent defensive team in the first half of the season. While injuries have caused problems in the second half of the year, Chicago is a lot closer to becoming a playoff-level team on defense than they are on offense. Defensive end Akiem Hicks is an underrated player who excels against the run and can rush the passer.The Vikings have been one of the better defensive teams throughout Mike Zimmer’s tenure as head coach, but the performance level has improved quite a bit this year because the offense has carried its weight. Defensive end Everson Griffen is a game-changing pass rusher, while free safety Harrison Smith can cause huge problems in the secondary because he understands how the offense is going to attack.
- Special TeamsThe Bears are near the bottom of the special-teams rankings, and the main reason for those poor numbers was an early-season game against Baltimore in which they allowed a punt and a kickoff return for touchdowns. The situation at the PK slot has been disastrous this season.The Vikings were one of the best teams in the league in this area, but they have slipped to mediocre this year. They used to dominate in the return game, but that is no longer the case. Kai Forbath is a decent place kicker, but he may not be up to the task when the game is on the line.
The Vikings have handled all assignments this year, while the Bears are a poor team that will likely fire the head coach. The Vikings should win with ease.