Minnesota Vikings: Week 5 preview against the Chicago Bears

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 1: Ameer Abdullah /

Three Keys to Victory

1. Win the turnover differential.

Offensively, the Minnesota Vikings have to get back to playing smart football. Against the Lions, they gave up three turnovers, resulting in 10 points. Given the 14-7 score, the turnovers essentially cost them the game.

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  • Luckily, the Bears defense hasn’t been successful creating turnovers with only three on the year. As a team, Chicago is dead last in turnover differential, one of the reasons for a change at quarterback. Yet, that’s also a testament to a defense that isn’t opportunistic, although they still are ninth in total defense.

    Similarly, the Vikings defense has struggled taking advantage of turnover opportunities despite being one of the top defenses in the league. Last game, they missed three or four chances at interceptions that could have made a big impact on the game.

    For the season, they only have one more turnover than the Bears, so this game should come down to who creates more turnovers. If the Vikings dial up consistent pressure on rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, the defense should have plenty of turnover opportunities. From there, it’s all about taking advantage of them.

    2. Establish a run game.

    Yes, I know we lost Dalvin Cook, but the Vikings still have to find a way to rush the ball. Currently, they stand in the middle of the pack in rushing yards, quite the improvement from last season’s worst rushing offense. The results have paid large dividends since opposing defenses have been forced to respect the run unlike last year.

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    Without Cook though, there’s a good chance that respect no longer exists and needs to be earned again. In fact, I fully expect the Bears defense to focus on stopping the pass. I mean, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph are far greater threats than any of the Vikings backs right now, so that defensive game plan would only make sense.

    If Minnesota can establish a run game with Murray and McKinnon leading the way, that should change the Bears game plan and create more opportunities in the pass game. Also, an effective run game helps the offensive line in pass protection, considering the defense has to account for both phases of the offense.

    Fortunately, the Vikings won’t have to worry about Bears leading tackler and middle linebacker Danny Trevathan after he was suspended one game for an illegal hit against the Packers. Trevathan is a big factor to the Bears strong rushing defense, so Minnesota should use his absence to their advantage. Ideally, letting Murray plow his way up the middle of the Chicago defense.

    In my opinion, at least 80 yards rushing should be enough to keep the Chicago defense honest.

    3. Shutdown the Bears’ run game.

    If the Vikings have to run the ball well, they may as well stop the run well too. Overall, the defense has done a great job of stopping the run this season. In fact, they are fifth in the league in rushing defense.

    That being said, they have allowed at least 97 rushing yards in their losses compared to giving up no more than 60 yards in their wins. Basically, the team has been better when the defense takes the run game completely away from the opposition.

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    Against the Bears, stopping the run is going to be crucial given Chicago’s excellent 1-2 punch of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The duo makes up a rushing attack that averages 117.5 yards a game, good enough for twelfth in the NFL. They will be relied heavily on to take some of the load off their rookie quarterback as well as get the Bears offense into manageable passing situations.

    I don’t necessarily believe the Vikings have to hold them under 60 yards, but I would say anywhere above 90 hurts the team based on prior games.