The Vikings are back to .500 for the fourth time during the 2021 season.
Minnesota is 7-7 and in a playoff spot as the No. 7 seed, and will host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon (CT).
Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 16:
No. 15 (up 2 spots): Dan Hanzus – NFL.com
Kirk Cousins should have feasted on Monday night. The quarterback was facing a Bears team that was missing many of its defensive starters due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols, including its entire defensive backfield. But Cousins struggled mightily to move the ball against Chicago, finishing with two touchdown passes and a career-low 87 yards in the lackluster 17-9 win. That's consecutive subpar performances by Cousins, who simply needs to play better to get the Vikings to the playoffs and alter the perception that he's a stat compiler more than an actual winner under center. Yep, that's right ... this Sunday against the Rams: It's (yet another) Kirk Cousins Legacy Game!
No. 18 (up 1 spot): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports
How does Kirk Cousins throw for just 87 yards against a Bears secondary that had everyone out due to COVID-19? That was one ugly win on Monday night.
No. 19 (down 1 spot): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports
They kept the Bears around Monday night, but found a way. They face a tough closing stretch of the season to try and lock up a playoff berth.
No. 19 (up 1 spot): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report
If the season ended today, the Minnesota Vikings would be in the playoffs.
After downing the rival Bears in Chicago, the Vikings have won two straight and four of six to reach 7-7 and take up residence, at least temporarily, in the NFC's seventh and final playoff spot.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that the Vikings didn't much look like a playoff team Monday night. Kirk Cousins may have improved his woeful record on Mondays, but he did so completing just half his passes for 87 yards. Minnesota tallied just 193 yards of offense for the game.
That may have been good enough to beat the lowly Bears, but come next Sunday, the Vikings will be hosting the Los Angeles Rams. After that comes a trip to Green Bay.
In other words, unless the Vikings figure out a way to up their level of play in short order, their stay on the right side of the playoff cutoff line isn't going to be a long one.
No. T-12 (up 5 spots): Gary Gramling – Sports Illustrated
It's never fun to be playing a divisional rival on the road, and Soldier Field is a particularly difficult venue due to the slow track and, occasionally, the elements. But it's a bit concerning that the Vikings couldn't muster more offense considering the Bears promotional giveaway was allowing the first 100 fans in attendance to play snaps in their secondary.
The Vikings can still make up for their roller-coaster season full of close losses with a strong finish in the final month to steal a Wild Card, perhaps saving Mike Zimmer. They need to lean a lot on Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook to get it done with offense because the defense is unreliable now.
Look back on images from past games between the Vikings and the Rams.
No. 15 (up 3 spots): Nate Davis – USA TODAY Sports
It's not all about QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson. Minnesota leads league with 44 sacks and is the first team in 47 years to record multiple sacks in each of its first 14 games.
No. 21 (up 2 spots): Courtney Cronin – ESPN.com
Note: ESPN looked at the job security for each NFL head coach from 1 (cold seat) to 4 (hot seat). ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin put a 4 next to Mike Zimmer.
The Vikings have not missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since Zimmer took over in 2014. If they don't make it this season, it's hard to see Zygi and Mark Wilf wanting to continue the course with Zimmer at the helm despite the fact that he has two years remaining on his contract. Zimmer's defense never truly bounced back in 2021 after the copious number of resources that were poured into retooling this once-vaunted unit, and the abundance of one-score games the Vikings have played in this season might make the Wilfs want to get off the roller coaster.
No. 15 (up 1 spot): Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk
At least it didn't come down to the last play, again.