Coming off of a loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Chicago Bears will play the Minnesota Vikings in Chicago. The Vikings are 3-5 this season, but are on a two game winning streak. Meanwhile, the 5-4 Bears have lost their last 3 games and are looking to bounce back against Minnesota. Here are 3 Bears keys to the game for Week 10.
Make plays on defense
One of the Bears flaws last week against the Titans was their inability to create turnovers. There is no doubt that the loss lies on the shoulders on the offense, but if the defense was able to force turnovers, the offense would have had a much higher chance of scoring. It seems unfair to rely on your defense to score or set the offense up in scoring position, but with the way the Bears offense has been playing, it is almost necessary.
The Bears have a better chance of forcing turnovers this week against the turnover-prone Vikings. In particular, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has a tendency to throw interceptions. So far this season, he has thrown 10 interceptions. He also has the 8th lowest quarterback rating in the NFL and has fumbled twice.
If the Chicago’s defense can take advantage of this, their stagnant offense will have a better chance of scoring and getting in rhythm.
In their past two games, however, Cousins has not thrown any interceptions. Cousins’ recent control has certainly helped the Vikings on their winning streak.
An important part of slowing down this Vikings offense is forcing Kirk Cousins into making mistakes. If the Bears can do that, they are much more likely to win their Monday night matchup.
Stop Dalvin Cook
Last week, the Bears were able to slow down star running back Derrick Henry. He rushed for only 68 yards on 21 carries with no receptions. This is an impressive feat against one of the best players in the game.
One game after that tough challenge, Chicago will face off against another top five running back, Dalvin Cook. The Vikings star running back has been extremely efficient this season, averaging 6.0 yards per carry on 20.6 attempts per game. He has 12 rushing touchdowns and 122 rushing yards per game as well.
Not only is Cook as strong of a runner as Henry, he is better catching passes out of the backfield. He averages 24.7 receiving yards per game and has caught 76.2 percent of passes thrown to him.
This is not to mention that Cook has been especially strong as of late. Over their past two games, he has a total of 478 yards and seven touchdowns. Last week against the Lions, he performed particularly sensationally, averaging 9.36 yards per carry on 22 carries.
The outcome of Monday’s game is dependent on the Bears defense slowing down Cook. If they can do so, they have a much higher chance of winning.
Stretch the field on offense
One aspect of Chicago’s inefficiencies on offense is their inability to throw the ball downfield.
Head coach Matt Nagy and quarterback Nick Foles are frequently unwilling and unable to throw it deep until the final stages of the game, as shown against the Titans. They seemingly prefer to throw the ball short, even in situations where it is not the right idea. This needs to change.
The Bears offense is loaded with talented receivers that are not given the chance to shine. Allen Robinson could easily be considered one of the best wide receivers in the league, but he is rarely given the opportunity to prove it. When he is thrown to downfield, he often makes the catch. However, this does not happen enough.
On the other side of the field, the Bears have rookie Darnell Mooney. He is a speedy wide receiver with much potential, but like Robinson, he has not been able to show it.
This waste of talent is part of the Bears offensive problems. For the offense to not struggle so severely, Foles will have to find Chicago’s weapons downfield.
Recently, the Vikings are on fire while the Bears are in a major slump. It is quite likely that the Bears continue to struggle on offense, despite their defense’s best efforts. If the Bears can complete the aforementioned keys, they will likely be able to win. However, this seems like too much of a stretch at the current pace the two teams are on.
Vikings 20 – Bears 13