At 6-5, Chicago is in the thick of a playoff race. The Bears are tied with the Detroit Lions for the NFC North lead but lose the tiebreaker thanks to two losses against the Motown team. In the Wild Card race, Chicago trails both the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals by one game for the sixth and final playoff seed.
Minnesota is simply waiting for a quick end to what has turned into a nightmare. The Vikings made the playoffs last season, but now find themselves without a quarterback, a long-term head coach and a 2-9 record. The good news? The draft is really loaded this year.
Meet the Bears
Chicago is 6-5 and tied for the lead in the NFC North, with much of the credit going to Josh McCown. The Bears' backup quarterback was forced into action in four games this season, starting two, and played remarkably well. McCown has completed 65.5 percent of his passes and thrown for seven touchdowns against only one interception.
McCown has enjoyed throwing to a pair of the best receivers in football with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Marshall and Jeffery have 945 and 860 yards respectively with 12 touchdowns between them. Matt Forte is also making a large impact as usual, gaining 851 yards on the ground.
However, these are no Monsters of the Midway. The Bears have been an absolute disaster on defense, ranking dead last against the run with over 145 yards per game being charged to them. Chicago has also struggled getting to the quarterback, with no player having more than four sacks, and only 19 as a team.
Meet the Vikings
This season has been nothing short of a disaster for the Vikings. Minnesota has trotted out the depressing trio of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman behind center, not surprisingly with sad results. Combined, they have thrown for 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while being sacked 29 times.
The only player getting it done on offense from the skill positions is running back Adrian Peterson. Perhaps the best back since LaDainian Tomlinson, Peterson has rushed for 997 yards on 4.4 yards per attempt. Without the workhorse, the Vikings would be completely rudderless.
Defensively, Minnesota has fallen on very hard times. The Vikings rank 29th and 25th against the pass and run respectively, unable to stop any facet of the opponent's offense. Jared Allen and Brian Robison each have five sacks, respectable numbers although down for Allen. With Harrison Smith out for the season, the secondary is a mess.
Local take: Chicago
Sam Householder of Windy City Gridiron wrote about the sloppy loss last week in St. Louis:
The defense surrendered 258 rushing yards, were penalized 10 times and turned the ball over three times. It's nearly impossible to win on the road in the NFL when you are penalized that much and turn the ball over that much.
Local take: Minnesota
Over at Daily Norseman, Christopher Gates writes about Cordarrelle Patterson's future:
Patterson has all the physical skills to be a top-flight wide receiver in the National Football League, and though it's taken a bit longer than most of us would like in order for him to get an extended look, it appears that he's ready to take full advantage of it. His development will be one of the more interesting story lines for us to follow for the remainder of the 2013 season.
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Chicago has to win this game to keep its chances of making he playoffs alive. The Vikings are simply waiting for the season to end so they can get a new head coach and quarterback. Still, division games are never easy. The Bears almost lost at home to Minnesota this season and could certainly fall on the road. All that said, Chicago is a vastly superior team with ample desperation and motivation.
Pick: Chicago 24, Minnesota 16
The line is EVEN with an over/under of 49.5, according to Oddsshark.com.