Vikings meet Bears in critical NFC North showdown

Soldier Field

This is a big test for the Bears' offensive line and for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to diagnose, scan and deliver against one of the premier defensive units in the league. The Vikings can overtake Chicago in the NFC North with a win.

The Chicago Bears have a chance to tighten their grip on the NFC North lead and demonstrate just how far they have come when they host the defending division champion Minnesota Vikings in a prime-time showdown for first place Sunday night.

A win Sunday night would enable the Bears (6-3) to extend their division lead over Minnesota (5-3-1) to a game-and-a-half.

The Bears have not played a game this meaningful this late in the season in almost five years, not since Marc Trestman's first team went into the 2013 season finale needing a victory at home against the Packers to claim the NFC North title (they lost).

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Vikings tight end David Morgan has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Bears, leaving Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Conklin as the only healthy tight ends on the 53-man roster.

Both teams were fighting for a wild card spot.

Perhaps watershed is a way of saying (or avoid saying) it's a "must-win game", which people have saying for weeks now. They're opening things up a lot more. "They have excellent hands, great route runners, they understand how to beat zones and then Kirk throwing the ball to them, he's been doing it for a long time, he's extremely accurate, he's tough, he finds different ways to get the ball to those guys".

"They haven't changed that much defensively except for Khalil Mack, which adds to some of those poor throws and pressure", Zimmer said, when asked what they have changed to get so many picks. They rank 4th in points allowed and second in quarterback sacks through nine games. "I'm not the same player, not even close".

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"There is an energy right now with us that I think is normal in our situation", Nagy said. Chicago leads National Football League with 16 interceptions, ranks second with 24 takeaways. "There's been times he's had some free runners, and it looks like they're telling him, 'Hey, you have to get the ball out.' He gets the ball out with accuracy".

The Vikings wide receiver was not given as designation on Friday's injury report, so it appears Diggs will be back in the lineup after missing Minnesota's Week 9 game against the Lions. Both teams have playoff-caliber defenses. Bears linebackers will be tested by underneath damage that Cousins can cause by getting the ball to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, who are two of the most unsafe playmakers in the league.

Nagy has also transformed the defense, and Mack plays a big part of the new look. "But just another good, young player that we're trying to work with and see if he can contribute and help us".

"Obviously real important to us, real important to the organization", Patricia said of this week's salute to the military. "But they've got their core group of plays they are going to run".

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Points could be hard to come by for both teams. The Vikings are 5-3-1 and would take first place with a win. Asked about it Thursday, the 10-year veteran said a lack of big plays in the passing game this year is a contributing factor to those declines.

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