EAGAN, Minn. – Fans are expecting big things from a pair of Vikings teammates this weekend.
Minnesota will look to defeat Chicago and move to 7-7 on the season while continuing to fight for a spot in the NFC Playoffs.
For this week's Filtered by the Fans Twitter poll, we asked fans to pick which offensive player will have the biggest impact on Sunday's game: Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen or "Other."
Much like the Vikings season, the voting came down to the wire on this one. More than 6,200 people weighed in, and 42.4 percent said that Jefferson will be the X-factor in his second matchup against the Bears. But just behind him was Cook, who earned 40.7 percent of the votes. Thielen garnered 11.6 percent, and 5.3 percent were cast for "other."
Jefferson, who can chase a Randy Moss milestone on Sunday, has certainly been a difference-maker in games through this point of the season. The rookie receiver has been as-advertised or better after being drafted 22nd overall by the Vikings in April.
Over 13 games, Jefferson has racked up 65 catches for 1,078 yards and seven touchdowns.
He first played the Bears in Week 10 and totaled 135 yards on eight catches at Soldier Field, helping the Vikings to a 19-13 victory. After being largely stifled by the Bucs defense last week, Jefferson knows he can expect a big effort this weekend by a talented Chicago defense that has plenty of game tape to review of the youngster.
"You just try to figure out the things that you could do next time in order to get open if [a] defense tried to play you the same way," Jefferson explained. "Just like coaches always say, this is a copycat league, so the things that you put on tape, you'll be expecting that the next few weeks coming up."
The Vikings have a litany of offensive weapons, though, and the Bears won't be able to pay full attention to just one person – which is why eyes are also on Cook.
The running back currently ranks second in the NFL with 1,352 rushing yards and is tied with Derrick Henry for the league lead in touchdowns with 14.
Chicago keyed in on Cook in November, limiting the explosive back to 96 yards and no touchdowns on 30 carries. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has entrusted Cook this year with a heavy workload, but the 25-year-old has welcomed the challenge with open arms.
Similarly, he's looking forward to a good old-fashioned NFC North battle on Sunday. Cook spoke to Twin Cities media members Wednesday about facing Akiem Hicks and the Bears defense.
"He's big, first off. Probably one of the biggest people on the field," Cook said of Hicks. "I think he does a great job of utilizing two gaps. He plays a lot of gaps, uses his size [really well], and he's aggressive. He's a good player, you have to give him that.
"It's fun playing against those guys – it's one of those Bears-Vikings matchups," Cook added. "He's just one of those players who is in the matchup, and you have fun with guys like that. I'm looking forward to the matchup – it should be a good one."
While Thielen received less of the hype in this particular Twitter poll, don't count out the veteran receiver.
Over 12 career games against the Bears, Thielen has recorded 34 catches for 363 yards (10.7 average) and three touchdowns, including two scores in Week 10. His 12 touchdowns this season have broken his previous career high (nine in 2018), and all except the first one have been in the red zone.
Some fans took to the tweet's comment thread, where quarterback Kirk Cousins and tight end Irv Smith, Jr., were the leading "write-in" vote getters.