If nothing else, keep the first drive clean.
The Bears’ struggles with first drives have been as well-documented as any of their fatal flaws, so much so that it’s basically become a running joke. A dark, sad, running joke. After getting blown out by the Chiefs, Matt Nagy talked about how wide receiver Anthony Miller’s first drive drop sort of killed the Bears’ momentum:
“That's a good point, for us to learn and understand, man, we've all got to lock in,” Nagy said. “We're moving the ball. It's going a little bit. You can feel, getting some 1st downs. We worked on that all week.”
“ … None of it's intentional. Anthony Miller is more frustrated than anybody, more upset than anybody that he dropped it. But those are the type of deals because now you're 2nd and long, and to start a game. We can't have that. We've got to be better than that.”
There’s not a lot, if anything, that can talk Bears’ fans off the ledge at this point, but a competent first drive would be as nice a send-off gift as anything.
Harness the mystical powers of Chase Daniel
Remember when Daniel came into the game and heroically led a group of backups to a 16-6 win, improving the Bears’ record to 3-1? It really happened! This year! It wasn’t the prettiest line (22-30, 195 YDS, 1 TD) of his career but ended up as one of Nagy’s favorite wins.
“It's definitely for sure top three, top four for me,” he said. “It's a division game at home against a really good football team. That's number one. Here we are four games into the season, and you start out 0-1 and there's a little bit of what's going on. And our guys, they just stick together. No one -- everyone cares about each other at Halas Hall. We all care about one another. When you have that between coaches and players that trust each other, you get games like this.”
Nagy has yet to lose to Minnesota as a head coach (3-0), and with most of the Vikings’ starters reportedly being held out for precautionary reasons, 4-0 doesn’t seem unreasonable. The Bears care about this game far more than the Vikings do, and there’s surely some pride/disrespect/brotherhood cliche that Nagy can draw from to get them up for one last game before they all scatter for the winter.
Get pressure on Sean Mannion if it’s literally the last thing you do
By Pro Football Focus’ metrics, the Vikings are the seventh-worst pass blocking team in football. Sean Mannion, who hasn’t started since 2017, is going to be running the show for the Vikings. It was Minnesota who used four guys to block Khalil Mack in the 16-6 win – something he admitted he’d never seen before – but the Bears absolutely have to find a way to put pressure on a bad pass-blocking unit with an inexperienced quarterback. Mack, Leonard Floyd, Nick Kwiatkoski, Eddie Jackson – I don’t care who it is, just send them and send them a lot.
Prediction: Bears 17, Vikings 15
The Bears clearly care about this game and the Vikings clearly do not. The Bears will want to save face and the Vikings will want to save energy. The Bears are serious when they say they’re playing for pride while the Vikings are proud to admit they’re not seriously playing. It’ll be ugly, but Nagy’s mastery of Minnesota continues.