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Lunchbreak: Vikings Could See Ups, Downs from Matt Barkley

View images of the key contributors for Chicago Bears on offense, defense and special teams this season.

With the Bears on their third starting quarterback of the season, there's been a recent stretch of growing pains for Matt Barkley.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune took a look at the quarterback's last game against Washington and offered what the Vikings defense could expect Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Craig wrote:

It's hard to evaluate Matt Barkley's five-game stretch as a starter when the Bears' season is in such shambles. He can make all the throws, but is inconsistent and has also has thrown eight interceptions the past two weeks.

*His third-quarter possessions the past two weeks ended this way: fumble, interception, interception, interception, interception, interception. *

Barkley has completed 112 of 202 passes (58.9 percent) for 1,486 yards with eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

While five of those picks came in Sunday's loss, Craig noticed Barkley also has the potential for big plays.

Barkley's first interception on Saturday was thrown deep to the goal line in the first quarter. There were three defenders around one receiver. Two of the defenders ended up fighting for the ball.* *

In the third quarter, Barkley's second interception came with him in a defender's grasp in the pocket. He just flung a floater to the middle of the field, hoping that Alshon Jeffrey would beat Josh Norman to the wobbler.

Then again, right before the half, Barkley threw back-to-back deeper balls that were spot on for 37 yards to Jeffrey and a 21-yard TD to Cameron Meredith.

Vikings struggled in key moments on road

The 7-8 Vikings won't be going to the playoffs this year, as they were partially doomed by a 3-5 record away from U.S. Bank Stadium.

John Holler of Viking Update took a look at big moments in six games that hurt Minnesota this season. Four of the games that hindered the Vikings playoff hopes were on the road.

After starting 5-0, the Vikings suffered their first loss of the season in Philadelphia in Week 7. Holler highlighted two crucial moments in the defeat. 

*Second quarter – After taking a 3-0 lead with nine minutes to play in the first half, the Minnesota special teams allowed a 98-yard kickoff return to Josh Huff. The Eagles went for two and took an 8-3 lead. *

*Third quarter – With the score 11-3, the Eagles fumbled twice on the same drive – one by Carson Wentz and one by Darren Sproles. They came away with both fumbles and went in to score to take an 18-3 lead. *

Holler noted that Minnesota's 26-20 loss in Washington was also painful.

*Second quarter – The Vikings scored two touchdowns in the final minute of the first half to head into halftime with much-needed momentum, but (the Vikings) missed an extra point, turning what should have been a 21-14 lead into a 20-14 lead. It sucked the momentum out of the lead and the Vikings defense allowed four second-half field goals while the Vikings offense was unable to sustain drives, eventually losing 26- 20. *

Holler also wrote that there were big opportunities in Chicago, home against Dallas and in both games against Detroit that could have helped push the Vikings into the playoffs.

*These games were all ones the Vikings could have won. Win one of the six and the Vikings likely still have a pulse. Win two of them and they're in the thick of the playoff chase. Win three of the six and the Vikings are controlling their own playoff destiny. But, they went 0-for-6 and are the team their record says they are. *

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