The Vikings and Bears will resume their twice-annual rivalry on Sunday at Soldier Field, with both teams coming off wins last week and both teams looking to avoid their second loss within the division in 2019.
Here are five storylines to watch this week as the Vikings prepare to face the Bears.
1. Vikings bring prolific rushing attack to challenge Bears at Soldier Field
For the opposing offense, everything is just harder to do at Soldier Field. Chicago has a great defense with an elite front seven and they have a distinct home field advantage. The Vikings understand this as much as any team because they play there each season. But the Vikings will make the trek to the Windy City this season with one of the NFL's most lethal rushing attacks. Their 193.7 rushing yards per game ranks second in the NFL behind only Baltimore and their seven rushing touchdowns is the most in the NFL. Dalvin Cook is the NFL's leading rusher and his 375 yards though three games are the most in the League through three games since Kareem Hunt's 401 in 2017. Chicago, by the way, ranks fifth in rushing defense this season, surrendering only 68.7 yards on the ground per game.
2. Bears defense is stifling quarterbacks again in 2019
In 2018, Chicago's defense ranked first in opposing passer rating (72.9), first in interceptions (27) and third in sacks (50). Against the Vikings, Chicago tallied six sacks and two interceptions while holding Kirk Cousins to passer ratings of 76.5 and 79.4. Things haven't changed much in 2019 because through three games only four teams have more sacks than Chicago's 11, only two teams have more interceptions than their four and opposing quarterbacks have a collective passer rating of a subpar 83.6, which is ninth best among defenses. This year's offensive line is playing as well as any group in the Mike Zimmer tenure heading to Soldier Field plus Cook and Co. on the ground will only help the passing game against this stingy Bears defense,
3. Round 5 in Vikings vs. Trubisky matchup
Sunday will be Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's fifth start against the Zimmer-led Vikings defense. The Vikings have done a good job of holding Trubisky in check. In the first four games, Trubisky has yet to top 178 passing yards and he has more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two). But Trubisky and the Bears have found ways to score and win – Trubisky is 2-2 in starts against the Vikings and last season the Bears scored 25 and 24 points in the two contests. One factor helping Trubisky has been a steady, physical rushing attack. In six games against the Vikings, Jordan Howard had three 100-yard outings, including a 109-yard, two-touchdown game in Week 17 last season that helped keep the Vikings from qualifying for the postseason. So far in 2019, there has yet to be a Howard-versus-the-Vikings like running game for the Bears. Chicago rushed for just 46 yards in their opener and last week in Washington the rushing attack produced a modest 90 yards on 24 carries.
4. Both teams likely to have starters on injury report
The Vikings played and won last week without two starters on defense – linebacker Anthony Barr (groin) and nickel cornerback Mackensie Alexander (elbow). They also saw receiver and returner Chad Beebe (ankle) and right guard Josh Kline (concussion) leave and not return because of injury. Bears right tackle Bobbie Massie (illness) missed Monday night's game, kicker Eddie Pineiro (knee) played through an injury and both defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (knee) and receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion) left the game and did not return. The status of all of these players bears monitoring this week, particularly on Chicago's side because they are prepping for Sunday's contest on a short week following their road Monday night game in Washington against the Redskins.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Bears.
5. Sunday's loser will feel behind the times
Sunday's Vikings-Bears game is a matchup between the last two teams to win the NFC North – Chicago is the defending division champs and the Vikings won it in 2017. The loser of Sunday's matchup will have a big hill to climb to claim the 2019 NFC North crown, though. Both the Vikings and Bears have lost to Green Bay already this season, meaning the loser of this game will be 0-2 in the NFC North in 2019.