After a bye week to rest and recharge, the Vikings are back in action this Sunday and will travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears.
Let's take a look at five storylines to watch this week as the Vikings and Bears prepare to battle.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Bears.
1. Vikings Look to Streak to ThreeHeading into Week 11, the Vikings and Bears are going opposite directions. Chicago has lost three straight by a combined 82 points while the Vikings won two straight games heading into their bye and can reach .500 and stay on the periphery of the playoff chase with a win this weekend. All of that means nothing once these two teams kickoff on Sunday, though, as the NFL is a week-to-week league (ask the Pittsburgh Steelers) and the Bears will be eager to rebound against their division rivals.
2. Name of the Game: Minimize MistakesThe NFL is a league filled with supremely-talented players who author sensational performances on a regular basis, but this week's division collision will be more about minimizing mistakes than it is about making highlight-caliber plays. For example, Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater has thrown no interceptions in each of this three wins as a starter and he's thrown multiple interceptions in his two losses as a starter. The same is true for Bears QB Jay Cutler, who has thrown interceptions in each of the Bears six losses and has 10 for the season but has thrown no interceptions in the team's three wins. Eliminating mistakes is not only the responsibility of the two quarterbacks, though. Both teams will look to protect their quarterback better, the Vikings will look to eliminate penalties on special teams and the Bears will look to fix issues they've had in pass coverage.
3. Jared Allen on the "Other" SideThe 2014 season is 10 weeks old, but this is the first week Vikings fans will get an up-close look at Jared Allen in a Bears uniform. For many Vikings fans, it'll never seem normal to see Allen with another team, but it's a reality now and it will provide a real test for the Vikings pass protection. Allen has just 1.5 sacks this season, but the Vikings know very well what kind of pressure he can bring. Allen had 85.5 sacks in six seasons with the Vikings, but now the Vikings will look to hold him to zero in what is the first of two games versus their former star in a span of six weeks.
4. Kyle Rudolph Poised to ReturnThere is optimism that TE Kyle Rudolph will make his return this week from an abdominal/groin injury that has sidelined him since Week 4. If that does happen, it will mark the first time Bridgewater has had the sure-handed Rudolph at his disposal as the starting quarterback. Rudolph is a matchup problem for most teams because he's too athletic for most linebackers are too big for most defensive backs. It may take a week or so for Rudolph to get back into the swing of things, but you can be sure Bridgewater and Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner will be happy to have him back in the fold.
5. Vikings Rookies Are on a RollFrom Bridgewater taking over at quarterback to Anthony Barr starring at linebacker to Jerick McKinnon taking over at running back, the Vikings 2014 rookie class has been impressive through nine games. Aside from those three, DT Shamar Stephen has proven to be a steal out of the seventh round by contributing on a weekly basis and the Vikings are also getting contributions from a pair of late-round defensive backs – sixth-round safety Antone Exum and seventh-round cornerback Jabari Price. This is the time of year where the "rookie wall" comes into play, but with how well these first-year players have performed to date in combination with the team's Week 10 bye, it's fair to expect the Vikings rookie class to stay on a roll.