The Minnesota Vikings closed out 2017 with another dominating performance, beating the Chicago Bears 23-10 in front of a Vikings’ home crowd. The win caps off a 13-3 season for the NFC North division champions and locked them into the NFC’s second seed and a first round bye.
It was the defense’s day to shine in this outing. They held the Bears to just 201 yards of total offense and a field goal on the day. The Bears’ lone touchdown came on a punt return.
Minnesota’s defense completely shut down Bears’ leading rusher, Jordan Howard, holding him to just nine yards on nine carries. The absence of a run game put all the pressure on Chicago’s rookie quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, and his performance suffered. Trubisky went 20-37 for just 178 yards. He also took an intentional grounding penalty in his own end zone, resulting in a safety.
With this performance, Minnesota completed a season-long quest to finish 2017 as the NFL’s top ranked unit in both total defense and fewest points allowed. It is only the second time the franchise has accomplished that feat. In addition, they also finished at the top of the league in third down conversion defense, allowing just a 25 percent conversion rate.
Case Keenum was efficient again for the Vikings, going 21 of 29 for 189 yards and a touchdown. Despite his efficiency, his deep ball accuracy issues cropped up again. He missed on a number of long throws, but was fortunate to draw pass interference flags on a couple of them. Still, it is a problem the Vikings will now have to work to prevent opponents from exposing too often.
This victory gives Minnesota much needed momentum heading into their Wild Card round bye week. They have won 11 of their past 12 games and are arguably the hottest team heading into the postseason.
The Vikings will now await the results of next week’s NFL Wild Card weekend. Minnestoa could face the Rams, Saints or Panthers in the Divisional Round, depending on winners of first round games. If the Atlanta Falcons win, they will automatically go to Philadelphia as they will be the lowest remaining seed in the NFC playoff race.
- The Vikings were one of just two NFC playoff teams (Atlanta being the other) to win on Sunday. The Falcons and Packers rode momentum to the conference championship game last year. After winning 11 of their past 12, could the Vikings be the next team to ride a hot streak to the Super Bowl?
- The Minnesota offense finished 2017 with their strongest season since 2009. They finished 10th in total offense, eighth in rushing, 11th in passing and 10th in scoring.
- The Vikings had to use their seventh different offensive line combination this season. Center Pat Elflein missed the game with a shoulder injury, his second in four weeks. Left guard Nick Easton was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a fractured ankle after last weekend’s game against the Packers. With next weekend off, Elflein should greatly benefit from the extra rest. All signs point to him being prepared for the Divisional Round in two weeks.
- Vikings 2019 Roster Preview: Linebackers
- Vikings 2019 Roster Preview: Secondary
- Division Preview: The Back-and-Forth NFC North
- Vikings May Have a Fun O-Line, If That’s Possible
- What to Make of Vikings’ Tight Ends