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Vikings vs. Bears 2016: Game time, TV schedule and team news for 'Monday Night Football'

The Bears are on primetime again for some reason, but at least Jay Cutler is back.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Through either a quirk of the schedule or a cruel joke from the football gods, the Chicago Bears have been on primetime television four times this season. That's a weirdly excessive amount for a bad and boring team that few people predicted would be a playoff contender before the year began. Thankfully, they make their final primetime appearance of the year when they host the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.

Brian Hoyer broke his arm in last week's loss to the Green Bay Packers and got put on injured reserve. In what is surely an unrelated coincidence, Jay Cutler got cleared from his thumb injury right around the same time. He'll return to the starting job, although it's unlikely if he'll be able to give the offense a spark. In his two starts this year, Cutler threw just one touchdown and two interceptions, completing 60.9 percent of his passes. The Bears really don't have much going on offense and have reached 20 points just one time. They're dead last in the league in scoring 15.9 points per game.

The Bears have a mostly middling defense, ranking 12th in yards allowed per game and 20th in points allowed per game. They're also 17th in run defense and 16th in pass defense. It's arguable that they're even playing above their talent level, but that's barely mattered with the offense doing nothing and failing to sustain drives. At 1-6 and with almost nothing going right, most Bears fans are probably looking ahead to 2017 already.

The Vikings are smarting a bit, coming off their first loss of the year and getting manhandled by the Philadelphia Eagles. The defense mostly did its job, holding the Eagles' offense to just 13 points. However, Sam Bradford and the offense ran out of magic, with Bradford throwing his first interception of the year and committing four fumbles, losing all of them. A special teams mistake allowed Josh Huff to run back a kickoff return touchdown, and Philly escaped with the 21-10 victory.

The Vikings might still be one of the best teams in football, and at 5-1 there's no reason to panic yet. However, that loss did expose some cracks in the team. Bradford is still prone to turnover-laden performances, while the running game is completely DOA without Adrian Peterson, averaging just 74.3 rushing yards per game. Jerick McKinnon suffered an ankle injury last week and won't play on Monday night, leaving Matt Asiata as the main starter.

Fortunately for Minnesota, the defense is still good enough to carry the team. They're allowing 14 points per game, tied with the Seattle Seahawks for the best mark in the league. They're also second in the league with nine interceptions and top the leaderboard with 279.5 yards allowed per game. There's little reason to believe Cutler and the Bears can break down this elite unit.

With a good Vikings team looking for a strong bounce-back win, and a bad Bears team going nowhere, this game could get out of hand early and we'll likely go through another week of hand-wringing about the NFL's ratings decline. Maybe things will improve once the Bears are no longer playing on primetime.

How to watch

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

Place: Soldier Field, Chicago


Announcers: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

Online: WatchESPN

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There's more to Bears fans than Ditka and sausage