Bears-Vikings meet up in a must-win game

LEFT: Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) throws in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) RIGHT

Too often, the words "must win game" are thrown around during the course of a football season.

And yet, there are times when they are absolutely appropriate – when both teams are on the outside of the playoff hunt with time running quickly out of the hourglass.

For the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, that time has arrived. What will take place Sunday afternoon (1 p.m., FOX) at U.S. Bank Stadium is basically an elimination game for both teams – currently 6-7- as they fight to get one of three wild card spots out of the NFC.

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The sports betting information

On Sportsbook, the Vikings are 3 ½ point favorites with a money line of minus-175. (A $175 bet is needed to win $100.) The Bears are at +150 on the money line – a $100 bet will yield a $150 win. The over/under total is 47 points. Both the Vikings and Bears are 6-7 against the spread. The Vikings have eight games where they have covered the over/under out of 13 while the Bears are 5-8 on the over/under total.

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The history

Old time NFC North rivals since the Vikings came into the league in 1961, Minnesota leads the season series 61-56-2. The Vikings stopped a four game losing streak to Chicago on Nov. 16 at Soldier Field, grinding out a 19-13 win as Kirk Cousins threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns while Dalvin Cook rushed for 84 yards. The final plays of that game saw Bears quarterback Nick Foles carted off following an injury in the game’s waning moments. Foles hasn’t played since that moment as Mitchell Trubisky has come back as Chicago quarterback.

Chicago is looking, however, for its third straight victory in Minnesota. That would be the first time it has happened for the Bears since 1983-85.

The storylines to watch

If there’s more urgency in a game like this, it has to be on Chicago. The Bears already have one strike against them with the loss to the Vikings against them. With pressure mounting on head coach Matt Nagy, a major quarterback decision looming about Trubisky or going in another direction and the team’s window appearing to be shutting with salary cap issues looming, a loss here would set a process in motion that could mean major changes in Chicago. That being said, Trubisky looked strong last week in a 36-7 win over Houston with a three touchdown performance. Allen Robinson has passed 1,000 yards receiving on the year as well for Chicago.

The Vikings issues last weekend centered around kicker Dan Bailey, who missed three kicks – three field goals and an extra point- in Minnesota’s road 26-14 loss to Tampa Bay. Those field goals squandered what as a golden opportunity for the Vikings, who owned an almost 2-to-1 time of possession advantage against the Bucs. The Bears could see a steady diet of Justin Jefferson, who has emerged out of a talent rookie class of receivers as the best of the bunch. Jefferson had a big game- eight receptions, 135 yards- against Chicago on that Monday night at Soldier Field. Expect a lot more in climate controlled Minneapolis.

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