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The Skinny Post: Vikings Close Out Regular Season Against Chicago



EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings have reached the regular-season finale.

Minnesota (12-3) wraps up its final matchup of 2017 with a home game against the Chicago Bears at noon (CT) Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Minnesota is 59-52-2 all-time against Chicago, including a 20-17 road win in Week 5 earlier this season.

Chicago is 5-10 on the season and has been eliminated from playoff contention. The Bears won 20-3 over Cleveland last weekend in their home finale. Chicago is in third place in the NFC North.

Here are three areas to watch in Sunday's contest, plus some noteworthy stats on both teams:

Plenty to play for | By**@EricLSmith**

Yes, the Vikings are already assured of a home game in the playoffs. But who wouldn't want that game to be two weeks away and not next weekend?

The Vikings have already clinched the NFC North and a postseason berth, but here is still plenty to play for in the regular-season finale, as a win guarantees the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

Minnesota can also get the second seed with a New Orleans win, Los Angeles win or Carolina loss.

Vikings players and coaches talked this week about Sunday's potential win actually counting as two victories because it would essentially mean a playoff win as well.

Furthermore, getting a first-round bye would allow an extra week of rest for players who are a little banged up late in the season.

The Vikings have won five straight home games against the Bears, and should have plenty of motivation Sunday knowing what a victory would mean.

Watch for the trickery | By**@LindseyMNSports**

The Vikings are approaching Sunday's division matchup with as much focus and intensity as they have for each game of the season.

Minnesota is preparing for a game that could still present a challenge – and even some trick plays.

As demonstrated last week at Green Bay when the Packers went on fourth down four different times, teams who no longer have the postseason on the line often aren't afraid to take risks, pull out all the stops or attempt some trickery.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer also reminded Twin Cities media members Thursday that the Bears scored on a fake punt during the teams' first matchup at Chicago in Week 5. 

It may not be possible to prepare for every possible scenario, but Zimmer and the Vikings will be on their toes for potential tricks the Bears could pull out of their sleeves in the regular-season finale.

Can the Vikings D finish atop the mountain? | By**@pcraigers**

The Vikings defense has allowed seven combined points and 400 net yards in its past two games, a 34-7 victory over Cincinnati and a 16-0 blanking at Green Bay.

Those performances have placed Minnesota atop the league in scoring defense (16.1 points allowed per game) and overall defense (280.9 yards allowed per game). The last time a Vikings defense finished in first in both categories was 1970.

The Bears have averaged 16.9 points per game and 293.2 yards per game.

Jacksonville ranks second in the NFL in scoring defense, having allowed 16.9 points per game. The Jaguars gave up 44 last week against the 49ers at San Francisco and visit Tennessee this week. The Titans have averaged 21.3 points per game.

Denver ranks second in the NFL in total defense, having allowed an average of 284.1 yards per game. The Broncos host the Chiefs Sunday. Kansas City has averaged 375.2 yards per game.

The Vikings also are second in rushing yards allowed (87.1) and passing yards allowed (193.8) per game. 

Minnesota's top goal this weekend is to win the game. Another strong defensive performance could help with that and lead to an elite historic status for the 2017 group.

Substantial Stats

— The Vikings defense has allowed 19 rushing plays of 10-plus yards this season, the fewest in the NFL. Since 1991, the fewest 10-plus yard runs allowed by a team in a full season was 20 by the 1995 San Francisco 49ers.

— Minnesota has a dozen scoring drives of 80-plus yards in 2017, eight more than the Vikings totaled last season. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has scored five of those 12 touchdowns.

— Bears running back Jordan Howard ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,113 rushing yards, and is averaging 74.2 yards per game. The Vikings defense ranks second against the run by allowing 87.1 yards per game.

— Minnesota has swept the season series between the Vikings and Bears 16 times, and can do so again Sunday. The last time the Vikings did it was in 2015, when Minnesota also won the NFC North. 


"We need to win. This isn't about momentum. We need to win. It's important to get a home game, to get a bye I mean. If you can get a bye, it's like winning two games in one day. That's pretty huge, so we need to go out and win." — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on the importance on Sunday's regular-season finale

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