Minnesota Vikings Week 17 Preview: Now or never vs. the Chicago Bears

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Brian O’Neill
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Brian O’Neill /

The Vikings offensive line vs. Chicago’s front seven

Another key factor on Sunday is going to be the performance of the Vikings offensive line. Yes, that could be said for almost every game this year, but in the last meeting with the Bears, the first line of defense for Kirk Cousins failed on multiple levels.

Although Minnesota offensive tackles Brian O’Neill and Riley Reiff did a decent job on the outside, the middle of the field seemed to be wide open for a majority of the game.

Chicago pass rusher Khalil Mack was able to dart to the inside to get a crucial sack on Cousins in the third quarter and Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd dashed to the inside to come in untouched and force Cousins to throw a game-sealing pick-six to Eddie Jackson.

For the Vikings to get anything going in this game, the interior blocking trio of Tom Compton, Pat Elflein, and Mike Remmers will have to show up big not only in pass protection, but to get the running game going, which managed just 22 yards on 14 attempts against Chicago in Week 11.

While those numbers are eye popping, Minnesota should be able to benefit by having tight end David Morgan active for this meeting after missing the previous matchup with a knee injury. Even with the return of Morgan, who is a superior blocker to Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings will still need their interior offensive line to hold up against Chicago’s strong pass rush.