Bears

3 keys for Bears to beat Vikes, final score prediction

Bears

Sitting at 4-9, the Bears don’t have much to play for on Monday Night, if they play Monday Night, other than developing their young players, and bragging rights against a divisional opponent. That doesn’t mean the team won’t be playing hard. Several players and coaches on Friday said they still take pride in their work, and playing to the highest abilities. If the Bears want to pull a little closer to second place in the division, here are three keys that can help them get there.

HELP O-LINE ALONG EDGES

Just when the Bears thought they were finally settling in at tackle, the position was disrupted again. Jason Peters has been a steady force at left tackle, but when he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Packers, rookie Teven Jenkins was thrown in with almost no practice under his belt at all this season. On the right side, Larry Borom had played at a high level in relief of Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson. But now, Borom is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Ifedi and Wilkinson are back practicing for the Bears, but Ifedi hasn’t played since Week 5 and Wilkinson hasn’t played on offense since logging one snap in Week 9. The Bears will have to scheme ways to make sure the line isn’t beaten repeatedly at the edges, whether it’s through chips and slams, by moving the pocket, or some other means.

 

FIND A NICKEL CORNER, FAST

If there’s one position thinner for the Bears than offensive tackle, it’s nickel corner. Duke Shelley, a sure tackler, had his 21-day window opened to return to the active roster earlier this week. But on Friday he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting his availability for Monday Night into serious question. The Bears also lost their next two slot corners to injury last Sunday: cornerback Xavier Crawford and safety DeAndre Houston-Carson. The team was so thin at the position that safety Eddie Jackson slid down from his usual spot in the back of the defense to fill in. While he did an admirable job taking over the position, it can’t be the Bears’ “Plan A.” Marqui Christian has played some nickel this year, so he could be an option. But he’s already been benched for rough play. Other options could include Teez Tabor, or even rookie Thomas Graham. The sixth-round pick has spent all of this season on the practice squad, but defensive coordinator Sean Desai said there’s a chance he could get some play time over the last four weeks of the season.

DO BETTER AGAINST JUSTIN JEFFERSON THAN YOU DID AGAINST DAVANTE ADAMS

For one quarter the Bears were able to contain the star Packers wide receiver. But once Green Bay started moving Adams around the field, making it tough for Jaylon Johnson to shadow him, Adams was able to make a big impact in the passing game. Desai said on Friday that he expects the Vikings to do the same with their star, Jefferson. After a magnificent rookie season, Jefferson has flourished in his second year with the Vikings. He leads the league in 20+ yard catches. He’s top-10 in total receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Guarding Jefferson is a handful for the best secondaries in the NFL. Given the Bears’ struggles defending the passing game, they’ll need to be at their best to contain him.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION

The Bears have historically played well against the Vikings during Matt Nagy’s tenure, and under normal circumstances this would be a great opportunity for them to get back in the win column. But with so many injuries, and so many players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Bears may simply be too short-handed to pull off the upset.

Vikings: 27, Bears: 20

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