NFL Expert Picks: Vikings “Win-and-In” in Week 17

The Vikings have won two games in a row and are starting to surge at the right time heading into Week 17.

With one game to play, Minnesota enters the last week of the season in control of its playoff destiny.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said that the playoffs start this week for the Vikings and knows there is a heightened sense of urgency around Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center this week.

“There has to be a heightened sense of energy and focus and study time,” Zimmer said. “You have to make sure that your bodies are rested and understand it is going to be a physical football game on Sunday.”

Zimmer is confident that his team will prepare that way this week.

“I don’t think we ever lost our confidence,” Zimmer said. “We’ve won a couple games and we need to continue to play good, but I don’t think we’ve lost our confidence.”

Minnesota will take on the NFC North Champion Chicago Bears at 3:25 p.m. (CT) on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Bears defeated the San Francisco 49ers 14-9 on Sunday to move to 11-4 and still have something to play for on Sunday

Chicago, which is currently the No. 3 seed in the NFC Playoffs, could get the No. 2 spot with a win and a loss by the Rams against the 49ers.

The Vikings would be the No. 6 seed in the NFC Playoffs if the postseason started this week and can move ahead of the Seattle Seahawks for the No. 5 seed with a victory over the Bears and a Seattle loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Experts across the internet submitted their predictions to all NFL games ahead of the much anticipated Week 17 slate.

Bears 24,Vikings 22, Elliot Harrison NFL.com

The Bears have much to play for this Sunday in Minnesota, as a Chicago win coupled with a Rams loss to the 49ers would vault Matt Nagy and Co. into the No. 2 seed, giving them a bye. It'd also mean that Chicago's Divisional Round opponent would then have to travel to bone-cold Soldier Field in mid-January to face that defense. If the Vikings are to prevail, they must give Dalvin Cook more work on the ground to slow down the Bears' pass rush. Cook has yet to carry the football 20 times in a game this season, but his increased rushing attempts over the last two weeks have contributed to wins. If Minnesota wins this weekend, the Vikes secure at least the No. 6 seed -- No. 5, if the Seahawks falter against the Cardinals. The latter probably won't happen, meaning there's a good chance Mike Zimmer's boys will end up playing these same Bears on Wild Card Weekend. Weird.

Vikings 24, Bears 17, Bleacher Report Staff

The Minnesota Vikings are desperate for a win Sunday at home. Their opponent technically has reason to try to win as well, but it'd be a stretch to call the NFC North champion Chicago Bears desperate right now.

That's why two of our three experts are siding with a Minnesota team that has put together back-to-back impressive performances since replacing Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo with Kevin Stefanski.

"I was back and forth on this call," Gary Davenport confessed, "as the Bears still have an outside shot at the No. 2 seed in the NFC if the San Francisco 49ers can beat the Los Angeles Rams. In related news, if frogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their butts when they hop — which is my way of saying the Rams aren't losing. Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy knows that, which leads me to wonder if we'll see a vanilla game plan since the Bears may face these same Vikings in the Wild Card Round. Since a Vikings win at home puts them in the playoffs and they're playing some of their best football of the season, I'll begrudgingly lay the points."

That decision wasn't even a begrudging one for Brad Gagnon, who noted that the finally grooving Minnesota defense has flat-out embarrassed opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford over the last three weeks.

"The Vikes have surrendered two touchdowns on defense in their last three games," Gagnon said, "and they've held Wilson, Tannehill and Stafford to a 51.3 completion percentage, a 3.9 yards-per-attempt average and a 55.6 passer rating during that stretch. The offense has also turned a corner under Stefanski. The Vikings have won four of their past five at home, and they've won impressively in each of their last five matinees that weren't on national television."

Minnesota's prime-time issues could be a problem in January, but the team's strong track record in regular Sunday afternoon games could work to its advantage in Week 17 against a Bears team that may not be playing for much.

Vikings 20, Bears 17, Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

The Bears could still get the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a win here and an unlikely Rams loss to the 49ers. But the Vikings have a lot more on the line to make sure the Eagles don’t sneak in as a Wild Card ahead of them. Chicago’s offense has not inspired much of late, and this hostile environment against Minnesota’s defense won’t help. Look for Kirk Cousins to continue his good play in time for the playoffs.

Vikings 24, Bears 20, Todd Haislop, Sporting News

The Bears are playing for playoff seeding, and the Vikings are playing for their playoff lives. The psychology of the situation suggests the home team will find more motivation. Plus, Chicago has struggled offensively over the last few weeks, while Minnesota has re-discovered its groove in the running game.

Vikings 23, Bears 16, Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

The Bears can get the second seed if they win and the Rams lose. The Vikings win this and they are in the playoffs. The latter is much bigger in terms of motivation, and I think that will show up. Kirk Cousins will play well in a big game.

Bears 20, Vikings 18, Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

The Vikings have to win. If they don't, and the Eagles beat the Redskins, Minnesota is headed for the exit. The Bears are currently the No. 3 seed — but they can move up to No. 2 if everything falls their way. Which is why they have no plans to rest their starters, which means Kirk Cousins and Minnesota's offense will have to outpace the NFL's best defense to earn a playoff spot.

Bears 21, Vikings 20, Jeff Dickerson, ESPN

Matt Nagy stressed all week the Bears intend to pull out all the stops to beat Minnesota -- even with a playoff spot safely secured. If that line of thinking holds true, the Bears defense is likely to -- once again -- stymie Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense. Chicago enters Week 17 No. 1 in takeaways (36), interceptions (27) and points off takeaways (107). The Bears are also the only team in the NFL to hold a second-half lead in every game this year.

Vikings 23, Bears 20, Courtney Cronin, ESPN

It's do-or-die time for the Vikings, who need a win over the Bears in Week 17 to clinch the final spot in the NFC playoffs. Several things factor into an advantage for the Vikings. No. 1, Minnesota's defense is lights out at U.S. Bank Stadium, allowing a league-low 75.7 passer rating at home. No. 2, outside of an annihilation at Buffalo, the Bears have not been very good on the road. Minnesota gets it done this week with the very strong possibility that they face Chicago at Soldier Field during wild-card weekend. 

Vikings 28, Bears 24, Mike Florio, Smith Pro Football Talk

Kirk or Kurt? This game is a referendum on that $84 million deal, and the Vikings need Kirk not Kurt to make an appearance.

The Bears may be scoreboard-watching and sitting their starters if the Rams take an early lead. I like the Vikings to win and clinch a playoff berth.

Vikings Pregame Win Percentage: 50.5 %, Average Score: Vikings 22.2, Bears 21.2, FOX Sports.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: 56 %, Chance to Make Playoffs: 72%, FiveThirtyEight

FiveThirtyEight’s 2018 NFL forecast uses an Elo-based model to calculate each team’s chances of winning each game of the season.

5 of 9 experts picked the Vikings, SB Nation

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