Bears vs. Vikings Prediction: Can Fields outduel Dobbs?
Mike Dinovo - USA Today Sports

Bears vs. Vikings Prediction: Can Fields outduel Dobbs?


by - Senior Writer -

To say week 12 of the NFL season was a strange week would be an understatement. From upset wins on Thanksgiving to some games between teams, no one expected to be good on Sunday. The action this week has been incredible, and there is still one more game to be played. That game features the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings, and it takes place on Monday night.

Not too long ago, the Vikings were sitting at 1-4 and tied with the Bears for the worst record in the NFC North. Then came a five-game winning streak that put the Vikings back in the playoff hunt before that ended last week at Denver. Keep in mind this Vikings team has gone 5-1 in their past six games without Justin Jefferson or Kirk Cousins as both of them are out with injuries. Jefferson could be returning soon, but it is Josh Dobbs running the show for the Vikings the rest of the way.

While the Vikings have turned their season around, the Bears are hoping to do the same in the near future and having Justin Fields back at QB may help. This team won against the Panthers not long ago and then came within a minute of upsetting the Detroit Lions last week before allowing 17 points in the final five minutes. Anyway, you slice it, the Bears and Vikings are both playing better than they were earlier in the season, and this has the making of another classic battle between the two teams. Here are some things to look for in Week 12.

Will we or won't we see Jefferson?

After putting up historic numbers through the first four weeks of the season, Jefferson went down with a hamstring injury against the Chiefs in week five and has been out ever since. Still, despite missing the past six weeks, he is third on the team in receiving yards with 513, which goes to show you the type of pace he was on.

The past few weeks have been very frustrating for Jefferson as the Vikings activated him off of IR, giving them 21 days to activate him. After not being activated last week, there were talks of him playing this week, but once again, he remains doubtful for tonight's game against the Bears. Should he not play, the Vikings will have seven days to activate him, and with their bye week next week, it will be interesting to see what unfolds.

That should help the Bears a little bit defensively, as he is a matchup nightmare and has caused issues to this secondary the past few seasons. The Vikings are not as explosive without him, although Jordan Addison, KJ Osborn, and TJ Hockenson have done a phenomenal job collectively picking up the slack. Until the Bears hear that Jefferson is officially out, Matt Eberflus must prepare his defense to face him, or it could be a long night.

Force Dobbs to panic

The Dobbs story will be one of the ages as the journeyman QB appears to have found a home in Minnesota. After being with the team for less than three days and not knowing more than five plays, Dobbs was forced into action after Jaren Hall went out with a concussion and led the Vikings to a comeback win. He followed that up with a massive win against the Saints a week later and was on the verge of making it six straight for the Vikings last Sunday until Russell Wilson led a late-game TD drive to end those hopes.

Last week is the game to focus on, as Dobbs was exposed much more than in his previous two games with the Vikings. Throughout his three games in Minnesota, Dobbs looks surprisingly comfortable and has displayed a good grasp of a complex offense in just a few short weeks. His ability to escape pressure and create with his legs is an element the Vikings didn't have with Cousins, and it has helped this offense immensely.

However, Dobbs doesn't handle pressure well, and when the Broncos pressured him during the second half on Sunday, he was terrible. The Bears need to do that this week, especially with Montez Sweat. Since trading for Sweat, the Bears pass rush has improved as has their ability to take the ball away. If they can continue that and make Dobbs uncomfortable, they can win this game, as there will be turnovers to have throughout.

FINISH FINISH FINISH

Although the Bears are going to need to win out to even have a shot at the postseason, any win is crucial to this teams confidence this season and last week they let a win get away. Not only that, but it was a win against the division leader, which would have been a huge confidence booster for this group the rest of the way.

There have been other cases this season, although not as bad, where the Bears had the lead late only to let it get away, as this team is still learning how to win games. It is time for the learning to stop, as they need to finish teams off when they have the lead. No more of this playing not to lose strategy that has bit them in the butt so often. They need to keep their feet on the gas and continue to be aggressive with the mindset of kicking their opponent while they are down.

The Bears may have a tough road ahead of them in making the postseason, but some winnable games remain on their schedule, this one being one of them. Who knows what can happen these final six weeks, but if the Bears win four games, they will make life difficult on many teams and will play spoilers for someone.

Prediction: Vikings win 24-20

This will be a battle between two teams desperate for a win. For the Bears, any win is a notch of confidence for these players, and confidence goes a long way in sports. For the Vikings, a win keeps them as the No. 6 seed in the NFC, while a loss knocks them down to the No. 7 seed. A loss also has them just one game ahead of the Rams and Packers, where a win keeps them two up and three due to having the tiebreaker.

The Bears have always played Minnesota tough at US Bank Stadium, no matter what the records are, and that was the case last season when the Vikings stripped Ihmir Smith-Marsette late in the game, with the Bears looking to win it late. As long as Fields is allowed to play his way, the Bears have a great shot to win this, but with the Vikings having more to play for, look for them to edge this one out 24-20.

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