Even though it’s only Week 4, Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears may already be the most important contest of the year for the Minnesota Vikings.
Two weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings lost to their rivals, the Green Bay Packers, on the road. The Vikings now return on the road this week to face another divisional rival, the Chicago Bears.
Every game on the schedule is very critical, but this Sunday’s game against the Bears may very well be the most important game left on Minnesota’s 2019 schedule.
Why? The Bears could be in the race once again to win the NFC North and playing in Chicago has been very difficult for the Vikings during the last two decades.
Since winning 28-16 there in 2000, Minnesota’s last victories in the Windy City have come in 2007, 2015, and 2017 (all by three points).
Even in the years the Bears did not have a good team, it was still a struggle for the Vikings to beat them on the road.
Currently, Chicago is playing well. They just won the division last season and although they could easily be 1-2 right now, they still have a good team. Especially their defense which is among the most feared in the league again this year.
A win for Minnesota this Sunday could help make up for the loss on the road to the Packers two weeks ago. Is the season over for the Vikings if they lose to the Bears on Sunday? Absolutely not, but it is a very important game for Minnesota and it could very well help jumpstart their season.
In 2017, the Vikings were 2-2 and then won at Chicago to go 3-2, before finishing 13-3. It’s a different year and this Bears team is better than that team was, but maybe this week will also be the beginning of a hot streak for Minnesota.
After this week, the Vikings travel to New York to face the Saquon Barkley-less New York Giants, return home to face the Philadelphia Eagles, go on the road to face the Detroit Lions, and then come back home to face the Washington Redskins.
All of these matchups could easily be wins for the Vikings. If they beat the Bears this week, Minnesota has a good shot being 7-1 after their first eight games, which would be very impressive.
The second half of the season gets very tough for the Vikings though. They travel on the road to face the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys in back-to-back weeks. Minnesota also has to face the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Chargers on the road during the second portion of their schedule this year.
Luckily, the Vikings’ final two games of the season are at home inside U.S. Bank Stadium. But those will not be gimmes either.
Simply put, Minnesota still has a good shot at winning 11 games (barring major injuries) and winning the division even with a loss at Chicago this week. But getting a victory there will certainly put the Vikings in a better position going forward and it could potentially end up being the deciding factor in them winning the NFC North for the third time in five years.
It might not be quite a must-win game for Minnesota this week, but it’s pretty close.