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Early Look: Vikings-Bears Has Major NFC Wild Card Implications

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are prepping for their final home game of 2020, and it's a big one.

Minnesota is 6-7 following a Week 14 loss to Tampa Bay that dropped the Vikings out of the NFC playoff picture.

Week 15 is a pivotal game against the rival Bears, who are also 6-7. Chicago topped Houston on Sunday to snap a six-game losing streak.

The winner of Sunday's game moves to .500 and stays in the playoff race. The team that loses can only finish .500 at best, which may not be good enough to make the postseason.

Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 15 matchup against the Bears, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings.

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

Passing: Kirk Cousins had a decent outing against Tampa Bay. He completed 24 of 37 passes for 225 yards with a score and no interceptions. He had a passer rating of 90.5.

The quarterback also lost a late fumble on a strip-sack, which was one of six times he was sacked by the Bucs on Sunday. That's a season-high allowed by Minnesota. It tied the most times Cousins has been sacked in his career.

He has now completed 270 of 400 passes (67.5 percent) for 3,298 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has a passer rating of 102.7.

The Vikings will see Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky for the first time Sunday, as he did not play in Minnesota's Week 10 win.

Trubisky had his best game of the season Sunday. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 267 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The second overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft had a passer rating of 126.7, which was the fourth-highest of his career.

Trubisky has completed 127 of 199 passes (63.8 percent) for 1,336 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a passer rating of 94.5 in six starts and seven total games.

Rushing: Dalvin Cook thrived against the league's top run defense, as the running back piled up 102 yards and a score on 22 carries.

Tampa Bay entered the game allowing just 74.2 rushing yards per game, but the Vikings ran for 162 total yards. Cousins added a career-high 41 rushing yards, while Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah combined for 19 yards on five attempts.

Alexander Mattison missed his second game in a row after undergoing appendix surgery.

Cook, who recorded his seventh 100-yard game of the season, ranks second in the league with a career-best 1,352 rushing yards. He is tied for the league lead with 14 rushing touchdowns.

Minnesota ranks sixth in the NFL at 146.9 rushing yards per game. Chicago is 28th at 93.2 yards per game, but the Bears rushed for a season-best 169 yards against the Texans.

David Montgomery had an 80-yard touchdown run to highlight an 11-carry, 113-yard day. Cordarrelle Patterson (26 yards) and Trubisky (23 yards) also chipped in.

Montgomery, who also didn't played against the Vikings in Week 10, leads Chicago with 760 rushing yards and four scores.

Receiving: Tampa Bay focused its efforts on stopping Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, as the two combined for just seven receptions and 39 yards apiece.

With Kyle Rudolph out with a foot injury, Tyler Conklin and Irv Smith, Jr., played bigger roles. Conklin had a career-high five catches and added 40 yards, while Smith had a team-best 63 yards (and a 14-yard score) on four receptions. Fullback C.J. Ham added three catches for 22 yards.

Jefferson leads the team in receptions (65) and yards (1,078), and his yardage total ranks seventh in the NFL. His seven touchdown catches rank second among rookies.

Thielen ranks third the league with 12 touchdown catches and is also tied for the fourth-most touchdown catches in a season in Vikings history. He has 60 catches for 760 yards.

Allen Robinson II is having another strong season, as he had nine catches for 123 yards and touchdown against Houston. Jimmy Graham and Darnell Mooney also had scores for the Bears.

Robinson leads Chicago with 86 catches for 1,027 yards. He is tied for the team lead with six touchdowns with Graham, who has 42 receptions for 367 yards.

Mooney (450 yards) and Anthony Miller (449 yards) are also key pass catchers in the Bears offense.

Minnesota's offense ranks seventh in the NFL with 385.6 yards per game. Chicago is 28th at 319.8.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.

Defense: The Vikings defense fared well early on, but struggled at times against the Buccaneers.

Minnesota gave up a 48-yard touchdown pass, the longest passing score allowed this season. The Vikings also gave up 100-plus rushing yards for the 10th time this season.

Minnesota did not record a sack, fumble recovery or interception for the first time since Week 1.

Ifeadi Odenigbo leads the Vikings with 3.5 sacks, while Harrison Smith leads the team with four interceptions.

The Vikings allowed 303 yards to the Buccaneers (the second-lowest total this season), and now rank 22nd in the league with 376.5 yards allowed per game.

Chicago has allowed 347.5 yards per game, which ranks 13th this season.

Khalil Mack has 7.5 sacks, and Tashaun Gipson Sr. leads the Bears with two interceptions.

Special Teams: Minnesota's kicking had a second-straight rough outing. Dan Bailey missed an extra point and three field goals, and he has now missed seven total kicks in the past two games.

Bailey is now 12-for-18 on field goals and has made 27 of 31 extra points in 2020.

Britton Colquitt averaged 38.0 yards per punt on just two kicks. He's averaging 45.2 yards per punt this season with a net average of 36.4.

Bears kicker Cairo Santos has made 21 of 23 field goals in 2020, and is 27-for-28 on extra points.

Punter Pat O'Donnell averages 45.7 yards per punt this season with a net average of 39.6.

Patterson is the league's top kickoff returner. He leads the NFL with 873 kickoff return yards and an average return of 30.1 yards. He returned a kickoff 104 yards against the Vikings in Week 10 to tie the NFL career record of eight such scores.

Dwayne Harris leads Chicago with 10 punt returns for 81 yards, but he did muff a punt against the Vikings that Minnesota recovered.

Another Bears home finale

Sunday will mark the fifth straight season in which the Vikings have played their regular-season home finale against the Bears.

Here's a look at how the previous four games have gone:

2016: 38-10 Vikings win

2017: 23-10 Vikings win

2018: 24-10 Vikings loss

2019: 21-19 Vikings loss

Chicago's win in 2018 kept Minnesota out of the playoffs. The Vikings had already wrapped up the NFC North in 2017, but a strong defensive effort helped Minnesota finish the season first in the league in both points and yards allowed per game.

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