EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings and Bears are closing out their respective campaigns at U.S. Bank Stadium for the fifth time in six seasons.
Minnesota (7-9) is locked into a second-place finish in the NFC North, regardless of what happens against Chicago (6-10) at noon (CT) Sunday because of a strength-of-victory tiebreaker.
That's the fifth of 12 tiebreakers the NFL has in place to resolve divisional teams with equal records behind head-to-head, division record, record in common games and record in conference games.
How does it work?
By adding up the number of victories compiled by the teams that a team has defeated.
Minnesota has defeated opponents who have 49 combined wins; Chicago has defeated opponents with 33 victories.
So even if the Bears prevail and level the head-to-head at 1-1, the division marks (3-3), common games (4-8) and conference games (5-7), Chicago will not be able to catch Minnesota even if every team the Bears have defeated wins.
This will be the 122nd overall meeting (including one playoff game) between the teams that have shared a division since Minnesota's inaugural 1961 season.
Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 18 game against the Bears, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Official LASIK partner of the Minnesota Vikings.
STAT OF THE WEEK
1,509 receiving yards
Justin Jefferson ranks second in the NFL this season in receiving yardage. It's also the second-highest total by a Vikings player in one season behind the 1,632 by Hall of Famer Randy Moss in 2003. With the expansion to 17 games, Jefferson can pass Moss with 124.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Bears.
Kirk Cousins ranks fifth in the NFL this season with a passer rating of 101.3. He is currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 list but is likely to be activated before the game.
Dalvin Cook ranks fifth in the NFL this season with 1,089 yards and has recorded his third consecutive season with at least 1,000 on the ground.
Jefferson's career total is up to 2,909 receiving yards, the most of any NFL player in his first two seasons and the most by any player before turning 23 years old.
Jefferson is one of five Vikings to record more than 100 receptions in a season, along with Cris Carter (two times), Moss (two times), Adam Thielen (once) and Stefon Diggs (once).
Minnesota's defense ranks sixth in the NFL with 44 sacks on the season but hasn't recorded one in either of its past two games.
Eric Kendricks set a new team record for being the Vikings leading tackler in games. Kendricks led Minnesota for the 59th time in his 100 career games, topping 58 by Ring of Honor linebacker Scott Studwell.
Greg Joseph's 51-yard field goal Sunday was the longest in a January game at Lambeau Field by any player.
KNOW THE FOE
Head Coach: Matt Nagy, 4th season with Bears (34-30 in regular season, 0-2 in playoff games)
Nagy said this week he hopes rookie Justin Fields, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, is able to start the finale. Fields is 2-8 in his first 10 starts. He completed 26 of 39 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown (on the game's final play) in the first meeting with the Vikings on Dec. 20.
David Montgomery leads the ground attack with 777 yards and seven scores on 205 carries. He's added 40 receptions for 294 yards.
Darnell Mooney leads Bears receivers with 69 receptions, 929 yards and four touchdowns.
Allen Robinson II has 36 catches for 388 yards and one score after recording 102 for 1,250 and six touchdowns last season.
TE Cole Kmet has added 56 catches for 564 yards.
The Bears offense ranks 26th in scoring and 28th in yards per game.
Robert Quinn ranks second in the league with 18 sacks and has broken the Bears single-season record.
Roquan Smith ranks fourth in the NFL with 157 tackles.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.
Vikings long snapper Andrew DePaola played for the Bears in 2017.
Bears QBs coach John DeFilippo was the Vikings offensive coordinator in 2018; Chicago TEs coach Clancy Barone held the same role for Minnesota in 2017 and became the Vikings offensive line coach in 2018 after the tragic death of Tony Sparano.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was born in Peoria, Illinois. He played high school football and wrestled at Lockport Township before attending Illinois State.
Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins was born in Barrington, Illinois, and practice squad LB Tuf Borland is from Bolingbrook.
Bears TE Jesper Horsted, who caught Chicago's touchdown on Dec. 20, is from Shoreview, Minnesota.
FORMER PRO TEAMMATES
Vikings DT Dalvin Tomlinson with Bears DL Mario Edwards, Jr., and LB Alec Ogletree at the Giants
Minnesota WR/PR Dede Westbrook and Chicago QB Nick Foles, WR Allen Robinson II, DB Tashaun Gipson and LB Cassius Marsh at Jacksonville
Vikings P Jordan Berry with Bears TE Jesse James, DB Artie Burns and Marsh at the Steelers
Minnesota QB Sean Mannion with Chicago DB Marqui Christian, LB Robert Quinn, Ogletree, Foles and K Cairo Santos at the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams
Minnesota DE Tashawn Bower and Chicago WR Damiere Byrd in New England
Vikings S Xavier Woods with Bears QB Andy Dalton and Quinn for the Cowboys
Minnesota LB Nick Vigil with Chicago DL Margus Hunt and Dalton in Cincinnati
Vikings TE Chris Herndon with Ogletree and Christian for the Jets
Minnesota DT Sheldon Richardson with Graham in Seattle
FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES
Vikings RB Dalvin Cook with Edwards and DT Eddie Goldman at Florida State
Minnesota T Brian O'Neill and Chicago TE J.P. Holtz at Pittsburgh
Vikings TE Irv Smith, Jr., and Tomlinson with Bears S Eddie Jackson at Alabama
Minnesota RB Kene Nwangwu with Chicago RB David Montgomery at Iowa State
Herndon with Burns and Bears S Deon Bush at Miami
Vikings G Wyatt Davis with Bears QB Justin Fields at Ohio State
Minnesota T Blake Brandel with Chicago RB Ryan Nall at Oregon State
Vikings T Christian Darrisaw with Bears RB Khalil Herbert at Virginia Tech
VIKINGS TOP PERFORMERS VS. BEARS
Kirk Cousins: 8 games (2 starts with WAS, 6 with MIN), 4-4 as a starter (2-4 with MIN); 180-of-270 passing, 66.7 completion percentage, 1,847 passing yards, 11 TDs, 6 INT, 90.5 passer rating
Dalvin Cook: 6 games; 116 carries, 403 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Justin Jefferson: 3 games; 20 receptions, 286 yards, 1 TD
Harrison Smith: 16 games; 83 tackles, 5 INT, 110 interception return yards (56-yard TD), 1 FR, 9 PD
(tackles are league stats)
VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. BEARS
Cousins: 25-of-36 passing (69.4 percent), 292 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, passer rating of 100.7 at Soldier Field on Nov. 16, 2020
Jefferson: 8 catches, 135 yards at Soldier Field on Nov. 16, 2020
Smith: 56-yard interception return for a touchdown, 7 tackles vs. Chicago on Dec. 9, 2012
VIKINGS-BEARS SERIES NOTES
1. The Vikings have a 62-57-2 record against the Bears, a series that began in Minnesota's Inaugural Game. Fran Tarkenton came off the bench to throw four touchdowns and rushed for another to spark the massive upset.
2. The two longest pass plays in Vikings history have come against the Bears. Tarkenton completed an 89-yard touchdown pass to Charley Ferguson on Nov. 11, 1962, and Gus Frerotte set an unbreakable record with a 99-yard touchdown to Bernard Berrian on Nov. 30, 2008.
3. Except for the strike-shortened 1982 season, the teams have met twice yearly in every regular season. The Dec. 20 game was the latest first meeting in a season between the squads, and this game will be the latest Vikings regular-season game ever.
Longest Vikings winning streak in series: 8 games (Dec. 3, 1972 – Oct. 10, 1976)
Longest Vikings losing streak in series: 6 games, twice (Dec. 11, 1983 – Oct. 5, 1986 an Dec. 28, 2009 — Nov. 25, 2012)