All season long the Minnesota Vikings record has been called into question. They currently have 12 wins and are going to host a home playoff game. They have been the best team in the NFC North division, and have one of the better records in the NFL.
The problem is that very few people believe in how they’ve gotten to that point.
Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins has long been scrutinized for his inability to win big games, primetime matchups, or come from behind. This season he has eight 4th quarter comebacks, tying former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford for the most all time in a single-season. Therein lies part of the problem.
Minnesota has 12 wins, but in 2/3 of them they’ve needed to battle back to secure a victory. Rather than seen as resilient or battle-tested, this group is viewed as a fluke or possessing a substantial amount of luck. With the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, or other top teams, wins are seen as more a result of performance.
On Sunday, the Vikings can put a stamp on the year and shut up some of their critics.
Chicago is a bad team and the Bears are certainly better off if they don’t win this contest. Justin Fields is not going to play. Kevin O’Connell is planning on playing his starters, and while the Minnesota offensive line is full of holes right now, there’s a clear talent discrepancy between these two squads.
Looking back at Minnesota’s wins this season, they have yet to record more than a single blowout. During a Week 1 matchup with the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings got up early and never looked back. It’s their only victory on the year by more than 10 points, and it probably represents the lone contest they truly had in hand. Replicating, and expanding, upon that type of performance at Soldier Field should be seen as a must.
To date, O’Connell has yet to coach a road win against a divisional foe. Minnesota got the Lions during an incredibly hot streak, and they ran into a buzz saw last Sunday at Lambeau. There’s no reason why Minnesota shouldn’t embarrass the Bears, and with Chicago coming off of a 41-10 shellacking at home by Detroit last week, another beat down can be in store.
Ed Donatell’s defense should be excited about the opportunity to create momentum against Nathan Peterman. There is no reason why Minnesota can’t have a couple of turnovers in this one. Pinning the ears of the pass rushers back and going after the quarterback should be as straightforward as it gets. The Bears don’t possess a strong running game, and their pass catchers are hardly anything to write home about.
Currently favored by more than a touchdown, the Vikings should be looking to win this contest with ease and do something that has only been done to them thus far. Getting a victory in the vein of the Cowboys or Packers loss needs to be the goal, and riding that momentum to a playoff win should be step number two.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.