The Vikings will prepare to make their annual trek to Soldier Field this week, as they're slated to face the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football to conclude Week 5 in the NFL. The game has major implications for both teams and will cap a very busy week for the Vikings.
Here are five storylines to follow this week in the build up to Vikings vs. Bears on Monday night…
1. Vikings search for ways to replace Dalvin Cook's production
After a fast 3.5 game start, Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook saw his rookie season come to an early end when he tore his ACL early in the 3rd quarter against the Lions. To that point, Cook had amassed 354 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and he was averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He also had 90 receiving yards on 11 receptions. His production will be a challenge to replace, but there are several on the roster who will be up for the challenge. Latavius Murray will see the biggest change in role as he steps into the primary running back role. It will be important for everyone else on offense, including the pass catchers, to step up their game in Cook's absence, too.
2. Bears bench Glennon, will start rookie Trubisky
The Bears made a big splash this offseason when they signed quarterback Mike Glennon. Then they made an even bigger splash two months later when they moved up in the first round to draft…a quarterback. After beginning the season with more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) and losing three of his five fumbles, Glennon has been benched for that draft pick – Mitchell Trubisky. The rookie will make his first career start on a big stage – *Monday Night Football *against division rival Minnesota and Mike Zimmer's defense. Although the task can be construed as daunting, it's also an exciting moment for Trubisky and his insertion into the lineup breathes new life into a team that has started its season 1-3.
3. Bradford or Keenum?
As of the moment this article was published, mum was the word as to who would start at quarterback for the Vikings. Case Keenum has started the previous three games after Sam Bradford exited his career-best performance, a win over the New Orleans Saints, with a knee injury. The Vikings don't have to release their first injury report of the week until Thursday, and even then it's a guessing game until either Zimmer declares his starter or the Vikings announce their inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff on Monday night.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Bears.
4. Bears will test Vikings run defense with Howard, Cohen
The Vikings run defense hit a slight rough patch last week, surrendering 66 yards on 10 carries to Ameer Abdullah in the first half; the Vikings made corrections at halftime and limited Abdullah to 28 yards in the second half. Even with that small hiccup, the Vikings run defense in 2017 has been fantastic, holding opponents to 71.3 yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and also ranking third in the League in allowing only 3.0 yards per attempt. That stout run defense will be tested this week, though, and it'll be tested by a running back who had success versus Minnesota last season. Jordan Howard torched the Vikings for 288 rushing yards on 49 attempts (5.9 yards/att.), adding a rushing touchdown and 49 yards receiving on four catches. Howard already has four rushing touchdowns this season, is averaging a healthy 4.0 yards per carry and gouged the Pittsburgh Steelers for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. To boot, the Bears have added another threat to the backfield in rookie Tarik Cohen, who is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and also leads all running backs in catches this season with 24. This week's matchup will be another good litmus test for the Vikings improved run defense.
5. How fast can Michael Floyd enter the mix?
Wide receiver Michael Floyd's four-game suspension has concluded and he is now eligible to be on the active 53-man roster. Assuming the Vikings make room for Floyd this week, there's a good chance he'll be on the 46-man game day roster and will make his regular season Vikings debut. Floyd appeared to be comfortable in the Vikings offense all offseason, training camp and the preseason, so now it's a matter of getting back in synch with the offense and finding a groove with whichever quarterback is under center this week. That should not be taken for granted, however, because Floyd was not permitted to practice with the team during his suspension.