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5 Vikings-Bears Storylines: Unique Opportunity Awaits in Quick Return

EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings will attempt to become the first NFL team to win a game in London as well as the immediate week after when they host the Chicago Bears (2-2) at noon (CT) Sunday.

The Vikings improved to 3-1 on the 2022 season with a 28-25 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 4 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Minnesota requested that its bye not follow its trip across the pond and back because the London Game was so early in the season.

The Vikings are the sixth team to follow a London Game by playing the next week. Four of the five previous teams (2016 Colts, 2017 Ravens, 2017 Dolphins and 2021 Dolphins) lost in London. Only the Colts among that group won the following week.

The 2017 Jaguars defeated the Ravens in London in Week 3 but lost at the Jets in Week 4.

Here is a predicted key matchup, along with five storylines for this week.

Matchup to watch: Vikings run defense vs. Bears rushing offense

The Vikings have allowed 131.0 rushing yards per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL.

The Bears offense ranks third in the NFL with 177.3 rushing yards per game.

Chicago RB Khalil Herbert, a teammate of Christian Darrisaw in 2020 at Virginia Tech, is leading the Bears with 52 carries, 317 rushing yards and three scores on the ground.

David Montgomery has 159 yards on 35 carries but he missed Week 4 with ankle and knee injuries.

QB Justin Fields adds a dynamic running threat with 147 yards and a touchdown on 34 rush attempts.

The Vikings didn't fare well against the mobility of Jalen Hurts in Week 2, so this will be another opportunity.

1. Quick turn to Step 2 of plan

Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's decision to request a delayed bye has been analyzed so far and will continue to be looked at this week.

The health and performance staff, players and coaches handled Minnesota's decisions to depart Thursday night in Minnesota and arrive in London on Friday morning. The Vikings executed that part of the plan and appeared ready to start — and finish — well against the Saints.

One goal was to try to prevent players' body clocks from adjusting to the six-hour time difference.

The Vikings landed at MSP at 12:47 a.m. Monday, which was better than a couple of weeks earlier when getting back from Philadelphia at almost 5 a.m.

"It's a process. I think we're getting there. I think we're close," QB Kirk Cousins said when asked if the team was recovered from any jetlag effects. "Just keep taking it one day at a time and trying to do what we're coached to do to help with that process and be ready to go and recovered for Sunday."

2. Chance to hold serve at home

For the first time since 2006, the Vikings will close out their home schedule within the NFC North before visiting at least one divisional foe.

So far, Minnesota was highly effective against Green Bay in Week 1, but stumbled early before overcoming two double-digit deficits against Detroit in Week 3.

The opportunity to bank another division and conference win is important, with division roadies looming in December (Detroit) and January (Green Bay and Chicago).

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Bears.

3. Continuing to correct

It's pretty clear that the Vikings offense and defense don't think either group has played its best football yet.

Minnesota can step back from what it's done so far, identify the reasons for successes and struggles and continue to develop its new offense and defense.

"You start to look at why you're winning or you're getting to 3-1, you start to see some indications like that," Cousins said. "Offensively, I think we've come out of some games – outside of the Packer game – we've come out of some games feeling like we have to be sharper, we have to be better. There's plays we're leaving out there. You're always going to feel that to some extent, but I do feel we need to tighten the screws down a little bit on some of our execution."

4. Staying special on teams?

A direct line can be drawn to the impact Vikings special teams units are having on the offense and defense.

Whether it's been Greg Joseph with consistent and long-range kicking on field goals, punter Ryan Wright flashing back to his QB days when he and the coverage team aren't pinning opponents deep, or the return unit popping back to give some energy, the groups are positively affecting games.

When an acclaimed vet like Patrick Peterson is willing to do what he does to try to block kicks, the youngsters who grew up watching him take notice.

The focus, willingness and execution has been coming together for this group that has a real chance to consistently impact games.

5. Threats of Bears

After recording a whopping 18.5 sacks in 2021, edge rusher Robert Quinn enters Week 5 with 1.0 on the season, which has pushed his career total to 102.

It will be important for Minnesota to keep Quinn at bay.

After not recording a single interception in 2020 or 2021, safety Eddie Jackson has three picks through four games, already halfway to his career best of six in 2018 when he earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. Those push his career total to 13, including two against the Vikings.

Roquan Smith remains a tackle machine, leading the NFL with 46 this season.