The Vikings bye week came at the perfect time according to defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
“You always want it toward the middle of the season, not toward the end and not too early when you start off,” Richardson said. “It’s just right.”
The defensive lineman knows that coming out of the break the Vikings will be tested right away with two divisional matchups. Minnesota will face a tough challenge in Week 11 as the team heads to Chicago to take on the division-leading Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday Night Football.
There are many changes to the Bears offense that Richardson and the defense will have to combat, including an offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy, and some weapons that were added for second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
“Me personally, I believe (wide receiver) Allen Robinson was a great addition for them,” Richardson said. “Guys are way faster, so the tempo of the offense can be faster. Guys are just running pretty damn fast if you ask me.”
Chicago defeated the Detroit Lions 34-22 last week as Trubisky secured his first-career NFC North victory last week.
Experts across the internet submitted their predictions to all NFL games ahead of the much anticipated Week 11 slate.
Let’s see what is expected from Richardson and the Vikings in their Week 11 rivalry matchup that will determine who sits in first place in the NFC North:
Bears 24, Vikings 20, Elliott Harrison NFL.com
Dove into this game on the set of "The Power Rankings Show" (shameless plug: Tuesdays at 5 p.m. CT on NFL Network), with my colleague James Jones explaining why we haven't seen more from Jordan Howard in the Bears' offense. Jones feels that Matt Nagy's primary focus is to show the defense something different every play, starting with formations, which can negate consistently running the ball downhill. Save for some truly special running backs, most ball carriers need the consistency of touches to get into a rhythm. Which brings us to the other side of this equation: How much balance can Dalvin Cook provide the Vikings' offense? Khalil Mack got after Matthew Stafford last week. He looks fully healthy after missing a couple games. If there is a weak link to this Minnesota team, the offensive line is it. Kirk Cousins has been sacked 24 times this season (ninth-most in the league). By the way, the Vikes have secured 31 sacks of their own (tied for the league lead), so Mitch Trubisky's mobility will be paramount in this game.
Bears 31, Vikings 20, Pro Football Talk
First place in the NFC North is on the line, and I think the Bears are primed for one of their best performances in front of what should be a great home crowd.
Bears 27, Vikings 24, Pro Football Talk
The Bears get their biggest test of the year. They’re good enough to pass it.
Bears 24, Vikings 20, Bleacher Report Staff
For the first time in eight meetings dating back to 2014, the Chicago Bears are favored to beat the Minnesota Vikings when the two contenders meet Sunday night in Illinois. It makes sense because the Bears are off to a great start, and they've always played the Vikings tough at home regardless of how good they've been.
Chicago is 13-3 in matchups with the Vikings at Soldier Field dating back to 2001, and those three losses came by just three points apiece. They're laying a mere 2.5 points this week, and all three of our panelists are on their side.
"Chicago's about to make a statement to a national audience," Brad Gagnon said. "The Vikings might still be a deeper team, but the Bears are healthier, hotter and at home, where they've gone 4-1 while averaging 32.2 points per game this season. This'll be a close game, but Chicago should win, so I'm of course willing to give the 2.5 points."
The Bears are certainly building momentum, having won three consecutive games by double-digit margins. Star pass-rusher Khalil Mack is healthy again, and second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has found a groove with a 114.8 passer rating in his last six outings. So while this is far from a sure thing considering the lack of experience on Chicago's side, the Bears feel like the safer bet Sunday night.
Vikings 24, Bears 20 Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
The Bears are good at beating up bad teams, especially in the friendly confines of Solider Field. But they can be too pass-reliant with Mitchell Trubisky at times, even when it’s not working. They won’t be able to run well on Minnesota, and the Vikings' pass rush and corners will make it rough on Trubisky. The Vikings can do more out of the backfield with a healthy Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, and both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen will be a handful for Chicago’s secondary.
Bears 26, Vikings 24, David Steele, Sporting News
A good ol’ fashioned, rock-em sock-em, Black and Blue Division slugfest … featuring a pair of quarterbacks in Kirk Cousins and Mitchell Trubisky who are airing it out most weeks, without many other options. The winner claims the lead in the NFC North with six weeks to play. The wild card is the Vikings’ defense, which got Everson Griffen back and, before their bye, got 10 sacks and gave up just 209 yards to the Lions.
Vikings 21, Bears 17, Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
The Bears are atop the NFC North, but they haven't exactly beat up on a lot of good teams. This is a good team coming off a bye they will face this week. The Minnesota pass rush will get after Mitch Trubisky and cause a few turnovers that [will be] the difference in this game. Vikings take over first place in the division.
Bears 20, Vikings 18, Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports
_Matt Nagy should be the front runner for Coach of the Year honors. He took the smoldering rubble left behind by John Fox and fashioned it into a division leader 10 weeks into the season. Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been inconsistent, but he's coming off the best game of the season, a 34-22 thumping of the Lions. Then there's that defense, which allows Trubisky to make mistakes while keeping games close. The Vikings have also been very good, thanks in part to the success of Kirk Cousins and that offense. Minnesota's defense, which was dominant a season ago, hasn't been nearly as good — but if they find their form, the Vikings could make a run at the NFC North crown. _
Vikings by 3, Kevin Cusick, Pioneer Press
Chicago’s Cody Parkey came under fire Sunday after missing two field goals and a pair of extra points in the Bears’ victory over Detroit. This is sudden, shocking proof that there might be a football team on the planet with even worse kicking problems than the Vikings.
Vikings Pregame Win Percentage: 45.1 %, FOXSports.com
WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine _generates predictions and box scores for every NFL game for FOX Sports for the coming week. The highly sophisticated algorithms simulate every play of every game to produce each team's likelihood to win. Each matchup is simulated 501 times. _
Vikings Pregame Win Percentage: 46 %, FiveThirtyEight
FiveThirtyEight’s 2018 NFL forecast uses an Elo-based model to calculate each team’s chances of winning each game of the season.