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5 Vikings-Bears Storylines to Watch

The Vikings (10-5) will close the 2019 regular season by hosting the Bears (7-8) at noon (CT) Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

This will be the fourth consecutive regular season that Minnesota has capped by hosting Chicago.

The previous two winners of the NFC North (Minnesota in 2017 and Chicago in 2018) are locked in for finishing at second and third in the division this season, regardless of what happens.

The Vikings are also heading to the postseason, regardless of what happens, but Minnesota doesn't know the team that it will face on Wild Card Weekend.

Here are five Vikings-Bears storylines to watch this week:

1. What's the approach?

Head Coach Mike Zimmer is a super-competitive person who always wants his team to win and play its best football.

For reasons listed above, Zimmer will be deciding on how to balance building momentum for starters for the postseason versus trying to be as healthy as possible for a knock-out game.

Minnesota was without running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison against Green Bay, then lost linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr against the Packers. Barr said after the game that he was dealing with a cramp. He was not on Wednesday's injury report.

Kendricks (quadriceps) was the only Vikings player who was listed as not participating in a Wednesday session that was more of a walk-through.

Zimmer was asked Tuesday during a conference call and said he hadn't yet determined what the full plan will be on Sunday.

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

2. Bears are banged up, too

It's been a rough season for Chicago in terms of injuries and losing close games.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan is on injured reserve, and defensive starters Eddie Goldman (concussion) and Akiem Hicks (elbow) did not participate Wednesday.

Goldman and Hicks have great strength and are always tough to run against. Hicks missed the Week 4 game between the teams, but the Bears defensive line stepped up without him. 

Kevin Pierre-Louis filled in for Trevathan last week and recorded a career-high 12 tackles. He's partnered at inside linebacker with Nick Kwiatkoski, who recorded nine tackles, two for loss, a sack and a forced fumble against Minnesota in Week 4.

Other starters on the Bears injury report this week include WR Taylor Gabriel, OL Bobby Massie, OL Rashaad Coward and DB Prince Amukamara.

3. Will takeaways continue?

The Vikings defense has recorded 10 takeaways over the past two weeks, which is four more than any other team in that span.

Minnesota has forced eight fumbles and recovered six.

Mike Hughes looked like former Bear Charles "Peanut" Tillman when he punched one football out against the Packers, but Green Bay recovered the ball.

The Vikings have four interceptions in their past two games, which is tied for second in the league since Week 15.

4. Couple of milestones

Kirk Cousins can become the first Vikings quarterback to start all 16 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history (the NFL began a 16-game schedule in 1978).

Cousins' passer rating of 107.4 ranks fourth in the NFL this season. His career best for a campaign was 101.6 with Washington in 2015.

Danielle Hunter on Monday pushed his season sacks total to 14.5, tying his 2018 total for his best in any season. Hunter is currently tied for third in 2019, 2.0 back of Shaquil Barrett and 4.5 away from Chandler Jones, who had 4.0 sacks in Week 16 against Seattle.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster for the 2019 season.

5. Keep an eye on the rest of the league

The Vikings know that they will be the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, but they don't know who they'll face on Wild Card Weekend or where they'll be heading.

The No. 3 seed could be Green Bay, New Orleans, Seattle or even San Francisco, depending on what happens in Sunday's games (the only scenario addressed involving a tie is the one that would cause the Vikings to visit the 49ers; ties elsewhere are not covered below).

The Vikings will go to Green Bay if…

The Packers lose to the Lions and the Saints and 49ers win their games OR

The Packers lose and the Saints and Seahawks win

The Vikings will go to New Orleans if…

The Packers and 49ers win OR

The Packers, 49ers and Saints lose OR

The Seahawks win and the Packers and Saints lose

The Vikings will go to Seattle if…

The Packers, Saints and Seahawks win OR

The Packers and Seahawks win and Saints lose

The Vikings will go to San Francisco if…

The Packers and Saints win and the 49ers tie the Seahawks

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