Last season, the Vikings were put to the test early within their division, as they hosted Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago during the first five weeks of their schedule. Minnesota defeated all three, setting the team on the right trajectory for winning its first NFC North title since 2017.
The Vikings are now past the five-week benchmark in 2023 but have dropped four contests by one-score margins without having played a divisional opponent yet. The latter part will change over the next few weeks, though, with Minnesota facing two NFC North foes on the road in a three-week span, starting in Chicago on Sunday.
The Vikings (1-4) will be facing a 1-4 Bears team hoping to continue its momentum after snapping the longest losing streak in franchise history (14 games) with a 40-20 rout of Washington on Thursday Night Football last week.
Minnesota will also have to do it without Justin Jefferson, who injured his hamstring during the fourth quarter of a 27-20 loss to the Chiefs last week. Jefferson, who has 571 receiving yards (third in the NFL) on 36 receptions and three touchdowns this season, was placed on Injured Reserve on Wednesday and will miss at least four games, including the first of his career on Sunday.
Minnesota and Chicago have met 124 times in their history, with the Vikings holding a 65-57-2 advantage. The Bears won the only postseason meeting between the two teams on New Year's Day in 1995, but Minnesota has claimed both games in each of the past two seasons and five of the past six matchups. The Vikings are 26-33-2 on the road against the Bears.
Let's see who the experts are picking to win the game:
Bears 24, Vikings 22 — Ali Bhanpuri, NFL.com
Why Ali is taking the Bears: Da Bears are back, baby! Justin Fields and Co. boast the league's No. 1 offense since the start of Week 4 (sample size, shmample size), with explosive plays fueling the unit's surprise turn: Chicago has the second most over the past two weeks (20), after tying for the fewest over their first three games (12). Can TD machine DJ Moore keep it going against a Brian Flores defense that has been one of the NFL's best at limiting the big play? Perhaps even more pressing: How will Minnesota overcome the loss of its top big-play threat? This one is tight throughout, with the Bears depleted backfield unable to get going against the Vikings formidable front. But Fields takes over, proving to the home crowd that his resurgence is no fluke.
Vikings 34, Bears 31 – Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
The Bears are coming off an impressive road victory last week against the Commanders, while the Vikings lost to the Chiefs at home. Both teams have defensive issues, which could make this fun to watch. Justin Fields has played much better lately as the Chicago offense has improved. But Minnesota can score — even without Justin Jefferson. This will be fun to watch, and the Vikings take it.
Bears 24, Vikings 23 – Staff, Bleacher Report
The Minnesota Vikings placed wideout Justin Jefferson on short-term Injured Reserve on Wednesday, which will keep him out for at least four games. He's accounted for nearly 32 percent of the Vikings total yards through five weeks.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins will likely lean on tight end T.J. Hockenson, rookie first-rounder Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn as his primary trio of pass-catchers, but the Vikings won't have their dominant receiver in what should be a tight game. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears offense has trended up over the past few weeks with Justin Fields' passing performances.
Bleacher Report analyst Maurice Moton has bought some stock in Fields and believes the quarterback can continue to stack quality outings against Minnesota's 22nd-ranked pass defense, which has allowed the fifth-most touchdowns (nine) this season.
"The Vikings won't have Jefferson, and Fields has found his groove over the past two weeks, throwing for eight touchdowns and just one interception," Moton wrote. "Even without Jefferson, Cousins could throw for 250-plus yards and multiple touchdowns, but the Bears offense has a more dynamic signal-caller under center in Fields, who rushed for 57 yards against the Washington Commanders last Thursday.
"In a potentially high-scoring matchup with two porous defenses on the field, the Bears get the nod because Fields looks like he's comfortable throwing and running the ball as a dual-threat playmaker. Chicago wins outright."
Vikings 28, Bears 24 – Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
The Vikings may be without hamstrung top wide receiver Justin Jefferson, an absolute Bears killer. But they still have plenty of firepower around Kirk Cousins with T.J. Hockenson, Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn with whom to attack the Bears pass-rush-less pass defense all over the field. Justin Fields will stay hot passing but the traditional running game is hurting and the Vikings should work to double-cover DJ Moore and force him to throw elsewhere.
Bears 30, Vikings 25 – Bill Bender, Sporting News
Justin Jefferson went down with a non-contact injury, and the Vikings one-score luck has reversed this season. Kirk Cousins had led Minnesota to victories in his last three starts at Soldier Field, but Justin Fields is a hot quarterback all of a sudden – and [Chicago] has done a good job stopping the run in its last two games. Fields picks up his first career victory against Minnesota. It's another step in the right direction.
2 of 7 experts pick the Vikings, The MMQB
2 of 7 experts (3 of 10 total had not submitted) pick the Vikings, ESPN
"Straight-up consensus" from seven experts: Bears, Bleacher Report