The Minnesota Vikings head into a must-win matchup with the Chicago Bears in Week 17. Can they break through and get into the playoffs?
When the Minnesota Vikings schedule was released back in April, the Week 17 matchup against the Chicago Bears appeared to be an afterthought.
In a schedule which featured trips to Philadelphia, Los Angeles and a home game against New Orleans, the final matchup of the season appeared to be a speed bump in the road for a Vikings team primed for a Super Bowl run.
Just like many things revolving around the Vikings, however, things didn’t go exactly as many had planned.
Minnesota got off to a rocky start this season, they cut the rookie kicker that they traded up for (and is now virtually automatic in Oakland), they had a defensive starter miss a month to work on his mental health, they surprisingly lost at home to Buffalo, and most recently they fired their white-hot coaching prospect that was hired to run the offense.
Even after all of those things took the Vikings’ season off its path to a NFC North title, the biggest wrench was thrown in from out of nowhere when the Chicago Bears traded for All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack.
As mentioned in this week’s Matchup Nightmare piece, Mack has transformed Chicago from cute sleeper team into a Gremlin that was fed after midnight.
While the Vikings’ season has turned into horror movie as opposed to an underdog overcomes everything tale, there is still a simple truth about this week’s game.
If Minnesota can beat the Bears, they’ll get into the playoffs. If the Vikings don’t, they probably won’t get into the playoffs (unless Adrian Peterson can do them a favor and run over the Philadelphia Eagles).
In a matchup that could become a potential playoff preview, there are several dynamics that could determine a winner on Sunday.