Xavier Rhodes continues to rise.
In his weekly cornerback rankings, NFL.com analyst Ike Taylor once again bumped Rhodes up a spot, this time landing at the No. 5 corner in the league heading into Week 5, when the Vikings will play the Bears on Monday Night Football. Taylor wrote:
*Rhodes continues to be a shutdown cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings. In last week's loss to Detroit, he allowed two catches on five targets for 41 yards, keeping Matthew Stafford and Co. at bay. If it weren't for Minnesota turnovers, the Vikings would have come out with a win at home. Rhodes and the Vikings defense are Mitchell Trubisky's first-ever NFL opponent. Look for the boys in purple to smother the rookie. *
Ahead of Rhodes on Taylor's list were Washington's Josh Norman, Denver's Aqib Talib, Seattle's Richard Sherman and Arizona's Patrick Peterson at Nos. 1 through 4, respectively.
Rhodes was the lone defensive back to represent the NFC North in the rankings.
Coller: MNF game key for Minnesota's season
The Vikings are headed to Chicago this weekend to take on the Bears at Soldier Field.
After falling to the division rival 20-10 last season, also on Monday Night Football in the month of October, Minnesota will hope to walk away with a win and move to 3-2 on the season.
Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com said this week's game will be key for the Vikings season moving forward. He wrote:
[The] Vikings should expect to come out of the second quarter of the season with a 3-1 record. Following the matchup against the Bears, they play Green Bay and Baltimore at home before heading to London to take on the Cleveland Browns.
The Vikings have a chance to win all four and are the decidedly stronger team in three.
Coller said a record of 5-3 coming out of the Week 9 bye is "essential" for the Vikings, who will face a challenging stretch of road games – including consecutive games at Detroit, Atlanta and Carolina between Nov. 23 and Dec. 10 – in the second half of the season.
It's too early to call the game a 'must-win,' but coming out of Monday night's game with a win would set the Vikings up to end the second quarter of the year in the driver's seat, while losing would put them in a spot to need upsets later on.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Bears.
Things to know about Bears-Vikings matchup
Monday will mark the Vikings 113th time playing the Bears (including one postseason game). Since Sept. 17, 1961, the division-rival teams have nearly split the series, but Minnesota holds a slight edge with a 58-52-2 record against Chicago.
The *Associated Press *recently posted an article about rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky slated to make his first NFL start against the Vikings this week. The article also listed for readers a few "things to know" about the upcoming game.
Both teams are missing key players, including Dalvin Cook (knee) being out for the Vikings and Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan serving a one-game suspension after a hit in last week's game against the Packers. Jerrell Freeman is on injured reserve, and Nick Kwiatkoski (chest) did not participate Thursday.
That could bode well for Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, who set career highs with 11 receptions for 117 yards in a season-ending win over the Bears last year.
Also mentioned were the Vikings historical difficulties at Soldier Field, Minnesota's run defense and the dynamic duo of receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
The last time a team had two of the league's top three in yards receiving after Week 4? That was in 2010, when Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie were first and third.
The Vikings could also be adding a playmaking receiver with Michael Floyd eligible to return from a four-game suspension.