The Vikings and Bears are quite familiar with each other, facing off twice each season.
As the division rivals prepare for their second regular-season matchup, they're aware of the possibility of seeing each other a third time.
If the Rams defeat the 49ers on Sunday, the Bears will finish as the No. 3 seed. If the Vikings win and finish as the No. 6 (they could finish as the 5 if Seattle loses to Arizona), they would travel to Soldier Field the first weekend in January for a Wild Card playoff game.
Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy was asked during the week if he plans to approach Week 17 any differently knowing Chicago already has a postseason bid locked up.
"We're going to play our guys," Nagy said of the Bears starters. "Like I've been saying to our team and everybody all week long, we're playing to win. So that's our mentality, and we're not treating this any different than any other week."
Bears left tackle Charles Leno, Jr., echoed Nagy's sentiments to Chicago-area reporters, saying that the team could run into trouble if too much concern was given to possible playoff situations.
"I'm playing the Minnesota Vikings this week, and if I have to play them next week, I'll play them that week," Leno said. "But I'm not looking [ahead] to what the scenarios may be."
Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who tallied six tackles (press box stats) and a sack against the Vikings in Week 11, said he's especially motivated Sunday to knock Minnesota out of the playoffs – and eliminate a chance to play the division team again.
"You want to play them really well so you don't have to see them again," Hicks said. "Unfortunately, that's part of the business of the NFL. We never know what's going to happen, and we can't dictate how other teams are going to play this weekend, so we're just going to play our game.
"This is [the Vikings] first round of the playoffs, honestly," Hicks added. "They have a lot to lose. We have to play them as if they have a lot to lose."
Here are other highlights from the Bears talking about the upcoming matchup with the Vikings:
QB Mitchell Trubisky on takeaways from previous game against Minnesota:
"First off, the thing that jumped out was just take care of the football. We gave them two turnovers, two coming from me, so we just have to take care of the football, go out there and be smart.
"We know they're a tough defense. They're going to throw a bunch of different looks at us. They're really not weak in any one area, and they're going to get after the quarterback and the guys up front and test us on the outside. So it's going to be a hard-fought game."
Nagy on the Vikings run game improving since the Week 11 game at Soldier Field:
"Well, you can see some of the different formations that are being run, and you understand that obviously there's more of an emphasis with that. You've got to understand that, you've got to respect it, and that's the identity that's been obviously, publicly made – 'We want to run the ball more.' And when you do that, it opens up play-action and it opens up different things. It's working, and you can see that there's more run game involved."
"[Dalvin Cook is] a dynamic back. He's explosive for his size, he's got great hands. I really liked him when he was coming out – I thought he was a great back [and] did a lot of great things. … We know that he's a good player, and we'll be aware of him."
Nagy on the Vikings pass-rush success at U.S. Bank Stadium:
"When you get crowd noise and it's loud and you're [indoors], it's hard for your opponents. You've gotta go silent [count as an offense]. That's a normal tendency for a lot of offenses, is that you might be a tad second, a half-second, half a tick off, and that gives them an advantage. We know that, we understand that, and we have to be good with our cadences."
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Bears.
Hicks on Minnesota's transition to Interim Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski:
"There's definitely been some changes, but how much can you really change in a short amount of time? We expect to see some different things, but we're still playing the Vikings."
"One thing that you can't change too much is your personnel, and your personnel kind of tells you what you're capable of doing. I imagine that they can't get too far out of the box if they've got the same type of guys.
Leno, Jr., on U.S. Bank Stadium crowd noise:
"We know it's a challenge, but we crank up the noise in practice throughout the whole week. Just paying attention to the details, count, silent count, just executing what we have to do. It's about us when we go down there – it's really not about them."