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Vikings vs. Bears 2016 live stream: How to watch 'Monday Night Football' online

Jay Cutler is back for the Bears. Will he be enough to send the Vikings to a second straight defeat?

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Cutler’s injured thumb miraculously healed just in time to replace Brian Hoyer at quarterback. Will the embattled starter’s return be enough to dig Chicago out of its 1-6 hole and send Minnesota to a second straight defeat in a Monday Night Football matchup?

Cutler missed five weeks of action with a sprained thumb ligament, allowing Hoyer to guide Chicago to its only win and a handful of close losses in the interim. He’ll return to the field after the Michigan State product suffered a broken arm in last week’s loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Hoyer may not have given up the starting spot otherwise. The journeyman backup played some of the best football of his career in relief, throwing for 1,445 yards and six touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes. That gave John Fox plenty of evidence to name Hoyer his full-time starter, but a timely injury will give Cutler one more opportunity to state his case as the Bears’ quarterback of the present.

He’ll have to be on top of his game against a Minnesota defense that rates as one of the best in the country. The Vikings have allowed fewer than 280 yards per game this fall, a mark that ranks first in the NFL in total defense. They’re holding opposing passers to a 63.7 quarterback rating, also tops in the league.

That defense held strong last week when it held Philadelphia to just 15 points and forced Carson Wentz into his least efficient game as a professional, but an anemic offense halted Minnesota’s win streak at five games. The Viking offensive line struggled to keep Sam Bradford upright, allowing the Eagles to sack the veteran passer six times and send him flying to the ground 10 more. As a result, a shaken Bradford completed just 24 of his 41 pass attempts as his offense was limited to its lowest scoring output of the season.

Minnesota will have to step up its protection to get the most out of its prized preseason acquisition. Bradford hasn’t exactly been the model of health in his professional career. He’s played a full 16-game season just twice in his seven-year career. Every time he gets driven into the turf is the football equivalent of pulling a gator’s tooth in a game of Crocodile Dentist.

The Bears don’t have a stellar pass rush, but have the personnel to keep Bradford on his toes. Veteran linebacker Willie Young is having a breakout year in his seventh season as a pro. His six sacks make him one of the league’s top 10 pass rushers. He’s excelled against weak offensive lines as well; three of his sacks came against an Indianapolis team utterly deficient when it comes to protecting Andrew Luck this fall.

Minnesota’s Week 7 struggles to protect Bradford and its league-leading defense stand to make Monday night’s affair a low-scoring one. Will Cutler be able to regain his spot atop the Chicago depth chart by leading his Bears to a major upset in prime time? Or will the Vikings continue to roll towards another NFC North crown?

How to watch Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

Location: Soldier Field, Chicago


Announcers: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

Online Streaming: WatchESPN

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