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The Skinny Post: Vikings Look for Road MNF Win Against Bears

After splitting their first four games of the season, the Vikings will look get back above .500 on Monday Night Football against the Bears.

Minnesota has won three of its past four meetings against Chicago. The Vikings are smack in the middle of a three-game stretch against NFC North foes. 

The Bears are 1-3 and will start rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on Monday night. Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, is slated to make his first career start. 

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

QB watch | By@pcraigers

Will Sam Bradford return to the lineup, or will Case Keenum start for the fourth week in a row?

Bradford, who is listed as questionable on the injury report, went 1-1 against Chicago last season. He was a combined 48-of-70 passing for 478 yards with four touchdowns and one interception (passer rating of 100.8) against the Bears.

Case Keenum has never played the Bears. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 219 yards last week against Detroit.

Keenum is 61-of-100 passing for 755 yards with three touchdowns (passer rating of 94.4) in three Vikings starts.

As for the Bears, Trubisky completed 36 of 53 passes (67.9 percent) for 364 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions (passer rating of 106.2) in the preseason.

The Vikings played two rookie quarterbacks last season, Philadelphia's Carson Wentz and Dallas' Dak Prescott, and limited both to less than 150 yards passing.

Will Zimmer deploy some of his most exotic looks and schemes or rely more on clean execution?

Trubisky this week described preparing for Minnesota's double A-gap blitz look that usually features Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr.

An eye on the backs | By@EricLSmith

There will be plenty of focus on the running backs in this one.

The Vikings lost one of their most explosive playmakers last week when rookie running back Dalvin Cook tore his ACL.

Cook ranked third in the NFL with 354 rushing yards and was averaging 4.8 yards per carry on 74 attempts. Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon will try to fill the void. They have 24 combined carries for 64 yards. The Vikings also signed running back Stevan Ridley on Thursday.

Both of Chicago's main running backs are healthy, and represent a big part of the Bears offense.

Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen have 633 combined rushing and receiving yards, which accounts for 51.7 percent of Chicago's offense.

Howard, who is the more powerful of the two, has 252 rushing yards and four scores. Cohen is a speedster who leads the Bears with 24 catches and has 150 receiving yards.

"Howard is the lead back in the running game," said Vikings Head Coach Miek Zimmer. "He's the physical down-hill kind of runner, very good at point of contact, gets his shoulders low, but he's in the passing game some too.

"And Cohen, he's a scat back guy. They run the normal plays with him but he could bounce the ball pretty much anywhere," Zimmer added. "Catches the ball well out of the backfield, good returner, they line him up as receiver sometimes, they line him up in the backfield, there's a lot of different things that they do with him."

Trying to succeed at Soldier Field | By@LindseyMNSports

The Vikings and Bears will face off for the 113th time (including one postseason game) in their teams' history on Monday night.

While Minnesota's holds a slight edge over Chicago in the series (58-52-2), the Vikings tend to struggle when playing at Soldier Field. In the past 15 games at the open-air stadium, the Bears have won 13, including defeating the Vikings 20-10 last year in one of only three wins by Chicago in 2016.

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, who is in his seventh season, spoke to Twin Cities media members Thursday and referenced the struggles at Soldier Field. 

"We just haven't had success there," Rudolph said. "Obviously, this is a big stretch, with having three division games in a row, so there's extra importance to this week, and we know the challenges we've had there."

When asked if there's been a common theme to Soldier Field contests, Rudolph said "not playing well."

Rudolph and the Vikings will look to tighten their focus and take advantage of any opportunity to seal a win at Soldier Field and move to 3-2 on the season.

Substantial Stats

— Minnesota's defense leads the NFL in third-down percentage. The Vikings have allowed 11 conversions on 43 attempts (25.6 percent).

— Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs leads the NFL with 391 receiving yards and is tied for second with four touchdown catches. Wide receiver Adam Thielen is third in the league with 358 receiving yards.

— The Vikings have swept the Bears 16 times in the all-time history between the teams. Chicago has beaten Minnesota twice in a season a dozen different times.

— Minnesota's offensive line has allowed 5.0 sacks through four games, the third-fewest total in the league. 

Quotable 

"We have a tough division game this week. Monday Night Football. Chicago really is a good team. They're the ninth-best defense in the league. They play very strong, have an excellent running game. Good receivers, good tight ends. It will be a good test for us." — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

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