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Early Look: Vikings at Bears

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are fresh off the bye and ready for a first-place showdown in the Windy City.

Minnesota sits at 5-3-1 overall and 1-0-1 in division play as the Vikings currently reside in second place in the NFC North.

The Vikings most-recent win was a 24-9 victory over the Lions in Week 9 in which the defense had 10 sacks.

Chicago is 6-3 after getting a 34-22 victory over Detroit on Sunday at home. The Bears are 1-1 in the division.

Here’s a look at Minnesota’s Week 11 road game at Chicago, which has been flexed to NBC’s Sunday Night Football:

Passing: Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has excelled in his first season in Purple. He has completed 259 of 363 passes (71.3 percent) for 2,685 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Cousins, who is seventh in the NFL in passing yards, also has a career-high quarterback rating of 102.2.

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed 23 of 30 passes for a career-best 355 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions and recorded his first NFC North victory.

Trubisky, who was the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, has thrown for 2,304 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2018.

The quarterback has surpassed his passing yardage from 2017, when he started 12 games.

Rushing: The Vikings seem to be trending in the right direction on the ground.

Minnesota ranks 28th in the NFL at 91.7 yards per game (825 total rushing yards) and is tied for 15th with six rushing touchdowns.

Latavius Murray leads the Vikings with 92 carries for 417 yards and five touchdowns. Dalvin Cook, who has played in just four games, has 46 carries for 187 yards.

The Vikings ran for just 252 total yards (63 yards per game) in the first four games of the season, but have run for an average of 114.6 yards per game over the past five weeks.

Chicago ranks 12th in the league with an average of 120.1 rushing yards per game, although the Bears had just 54 yards on 22 carries on Sunday.

Running back Jordan Howard leads Chicago with 460 yards and five touchdowns. Trubisky has 320 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Tarik Cohen has 244 rushing yards and a pair of scores.

Receiving: Adam Thielen opened the season with eight straight 100-yard games and is on pace for one of the top receiving seasons in franchise history.

Thielen is tied with Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas for the league lead with 78 catches and is third with 947 yards. His seven receiving touchdowns are tied for the third-most in the league.

Stefon Diggs, who missed the Week 9 game against the Lions, has 58 receptions for 587 yards and four scores. Kyle Rudolph has 34 catches for 349 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Laquon Treadwell has 27 catches for 253 yards and a touchdown, while Aldrick Robinson has had a nose for the end zone with three touchdowns on just seven catches for 115 yards.

Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson, an offseason free-agent acquisition, had six catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, and rookie Anthony Miller had five receptions for 122 yards and a score.

Cohen and Taylor Gabriel lead the Bears with 37 receptions apiece. Cohen has a team-high 435 yards and Gabriel has 426 yards.

Tight end Trey Burton has 33 receptions for 411 yards and has a team-high five receiving scores. Robinson [418 yards] and Miller [332 yards] each have four touchdowns this season.

Chicago has four players with three or more touchdowns catches so far in 2018.

Defense: Minnesota once again has one of the league’s meanest defenses, even in a season where the unit has had some ups and downs.

Minnesota ranks fifth in yards allowed per game (322.2) and is 11th in points allowed per game (22.7). The defense had a shaky start but has rebounded well to help the Vikings win four of five games.

Defensive end Danielle Hunter ranks second in the NFL with 11.5 sacks, which is one off of his career high. Safety Harrison Smith leads the Vikings with three interceptions.

The Vikings defense could have benefitted the most from the bye week as linebacker Anthony Barr, safety Andrew Sendejo and cornerback Xavier Rhodes were all banged up prior to the break.

Chicago’s defense ranks fourth in yards allowed per game (319.6) and is tied for fourth in points allowed per game (19.4).

Cornerback Kyle Fuller leads the Bears with four interceptions, and pass rusher Khalil Mack has a team-high 7.0 sacks.

The Bears are tied for the league lead with four defensive touchdowns.

Special Teams: Vikings kicker Dan Bailey has made 12 of 15 field goals with Minnesota on the season. Punter Matt Wile averages 44.5 yards per punt and has a long of 70 so far this season.

Marcus Sherels is averaging nine yards per punt return, and Holton Hill has averaged 28.3 yards per kickoff return.

Bears kicker Cody Parkey is 13 of 18 on field goals this season. Punter Pat O’Donnell averages 44.9 yards per punt.

Chicago has allowed a kickoff return for a score in 2018, while the Vikings have given up a blocked punt for a touchdown this season.

Over The Years

The Vikings are 60-52-2 all-time against the Bears, which includes a loss by Minnesota in the franchise’s only postseason meeting.

Minnesota has had the upper hand of late, winning six of the past seven total matchups, including two of the past three at Soldier Field. The Vikings swept the season series in 2015 and 2017 en route to winning the NFC North each season.

Each team has a six-game winning streak in the history of the series, something Chicago has done twice and the Vikings once.

The lone playoff meeting between the Vikings and Bears was in January of 1995.

Last meeting: Vikings 23, Bears 10, Dec. 31, 2017, in Minneapolis

The Vikings closed out one of the most successful seasons in franchise history with a win over a division rival.

Murray ran for a pair of 1-yard touchdowns in the first 20 minutes to give the Vikings an early cushion.

The Bears then ran a trick play on a punt return that went for a 59-yard score, but the Vikings recorded a safety when Trubisky was called for intentional grounding in the end zone late in the second quarter.

Diggs had a 15-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter before Chicago capped the scoring with a 55-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota’s defensive performance marked the sixth time the Vikings had allowed 10 or fewer points in the 2017 season. Minnesota ended the year allowing 15.8 points per game, the lowest average in the NFL last season.

The Vikings also finished with the fewest yards allowed per game (275.9) after giving up just 201 total yards to Chicago’s offense.

The double-digit victory gave Minnesota a 13-3 record and a first-round bye in the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

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