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5 Vikings-Bears Storylines to Follow

It's a game and a situation that really doesn't need much of an introduction or much hype to get fans interested. The Vikings host the Bears in the season's final week and a third playoff appearance in four seasons hangs in the balance for the Vikings.

Here are five storylines to watch during the build up to this week's Vikings-Bears matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.

1. Vikings must have "win and in" mentality

The Vikings can quality for the postseason without winning on Sunday (if Philadelphia loses), but for all intents and purposes it will be a "win and in" mentality for the Vikings and their fans this week. The playoffs start a week early for the Vikings, and their division rivals have a chance to knock them out before they officially begin. If the Bears are unable to keep the Vikings from the playoffs, then a rematch will happen next week at Soldier Field in the Wild Card round.

2. Tall tasks for both offensive lines

Sunday's game features two of the better defensive front sevens in the NFL, which means both the Vikings and Bears offensive lines will be tested. The Vikings must contend with one of the League's best pass rushers – Khalil Mack. He is bookended by another athletic edge rusher in Leonard Floyd. Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks man the middle and are difficult to move, which makes life easier for talented linebacker Roquan Smith. Chicago's offensive line has just as difficult a chore. Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter will be screaming off the edge with the U.S. Bank Stadium crowd noise helping them out while defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson will try to ruin the game from the inside. Linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks (more on him in a minute) can cause problems, too, and both are solid in run defense as well as pass defense.

3. Vikings looking to make throwing the ball tricky for Trubisky at U.S. Bank Stadium

Might the Vikings look to put the ball in the hands of Mitchell Trubisky and dare Chicago to beat them through the air? It's not something you'd typically see a team force its 11-4, division-winning opponent to do. But when you consider only five of Trubisky's 24 touchdown passes and only 1,088 of his 3,060 passing yards have come on the road, you could see why a team would have that intention. Trubisky won't back down from the challenge and he has talented skill position players at his disposal to support the effort.

4. Kendricks, Rhodes look to recover from injuries in time to face Bears

Two key defensive starters are both dealing with hamstring injuries and will both push hard to be able to play on Sunday. Linebacker Eric Kendricks injured his hamstring toward the end of the Miami game and missed last week's game in Detroit. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was forced from the game last week in Detroit with what appeared to be a leg injury. The status of both of these players bears monitoring during the week.

5. What's the next trick to be played by the Vikings offense?

The Vikings unleashed a relentless rushing attack on the Dolphins in Kevin Stefanski's first game as interim offensive coordinator two weeks ago. Then last week, the Vikings had Laquon Treadwell as one of their inactive players and they featured tight end Kyle Rudolph in the passing game; Rudolph finished with 122 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches. So what's up Stefanski's sleeve for Game No. 3 at his new post?

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