5 things to watch in the season finale of the Chicago Bears, including Matt Nagy’s finale and Jaylon Johnson’s iconic matchup — plus our Week 18 predictions


The Chicago Bears will kick off their season at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday, facing the Minnesota Vikings in a game that has no playoff effect. The Bears are hoping to end the year on a three-game winning streak, but head into the weekend as a 5½-point underdog against a Vikings team that beat them 17-9 three weeks ago. With Sunday’s game kickoff, here’s a snapshot look at the matchup.

Chicago Bears (6-10) (7-9) at Minnesota Vikings

  • to start: Sunday afternoon at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
  • TV and Radio: FOX-32, WBBM-AM 780, WCFS-FM 105.9, WRTO-AM 1200 (Spanish).
  • Line: Vikings from 5½. over under: 44½.
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1. pressing question

<चिह्न वर्ग = "hl_orange">Is this the end of the road for Bears coach Matt Nagy?


Maybe. It’s hard to find anyone in the league who isn’t expecting Nagy to be fired after Sunday’s game. Which potentially leaves Nagy to follow the paths of two of his predecessors, John Fox and Mark Trasteman, who ended their tenure as Bears coach in Minneapolis.

During his time in Chicago, Negi was 34–30 during the regular season and lost both of his playoff games. After losing five games in October and November this season saw the Bears drop 3–7, a foregone conclusion that Nagy’s days with the organization were numbered.


Still, whether Negi has contemplated and lamented more in private, he has publicly discussed his coaching fate and insisted instead on focusing on preparing each week for the next game.

On Friday, after leading what many believed would be his last full-fledged exercise as Bears coach, Negi again expressed pride in the manner in which his players are out of the playoff race from mid-December. Despite this, he has been working hard and investing continuously in his preparation.

“How do you react when things aren’t the way you want them to go?” Negi said. “Do you change? Do you treat people differently? Are you a different head coach? Are you a different kind of player? Because as they say, that reveals your true character.


“Finally, we can all look back and say, ‘How did we react during the tough times?’ And I think everyone in this building can tell you, ‘We responded very well.’ ,

For Nagy, this means something. And the Bears have an opportunity to end their season on a three-game winning streak.

2. Players in the spotlight

Andy Dalton admitted on Friday that one thought keeps running through his mind quite often.


What if I hadn’t been hurt?

Who knows how the Bears’ season would have been if Dalton hadn’t injured his left knee bone in the second quarter of the second game? That injury changed big-picture quarterback plans coming into the Bears season, eventually moving rookie Justin Fields into the starting role for 10 of the next 12 games. The Bears went 2-8 ahead in the games that started at Fields. And while Fields gained valuable experience during a season in which the Bears probably weren’t going to be a championship contender, Dalton can’t be blamed for wondering whether he’d put this team beyond the expectations of so many outsiders. could lift.

If it weren’t for that unfortunate injury…

“I think about that all the time,” Dalton said. “It is unfortunate how the whole injury (with me) was not really being touched. Things progressed from that point onwards. So I think about it. But I understand that everything happens for a reason and I trust God’s plan for me. I don’t understand why or when it happened and all that. But I know I can trust that something good has come out of it. And since then there has been a lot of growth for me as a person and as a player.”

Dalton, who signed a one-year $10 million deal with the Bears in March, will get a final start on Sunday, pushed back into action after Fields tested positive for COVID-19 in the middle of the week. The Bears lead 3-2 in the game that Dalton started.

At the end of what he called an “up and down” season, Dalton would love to put some positive finishing touches on things by taking offense against a strong Vikings defense.

For whatever it’s worth, Dalton took the razor on his beard this week.

“New year, new look,” he said. “Fresh start.”

3. Keep an eye out…

Jalon Johnson vs Justin Jefferson.

Three weeks ago, Johnson was actually looking forward to the matchup against the Vikings star receiver, dialing in on his preparation and eager to play his part to help contain Jefferson. Then, the day before the game, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 and could not play.

“I missed (that game) a lot,” Johnson said on Thursday, “judging by the preparation I had done that week — from watching a movie, practicing, watching a few things. It was very sad to have to take it away from me at the last minute. I wanted that matchup. It was something I was waiting for.”

Sunday presents another opportunity. Jefferson is second in the NFL with 1,509 yards. He also has 103 catches to his name, including nine touchdowns.

Jefferson caught an early 12-yard touchdown catch from Kirk Cousins ​​at Soldier Field in Week 15, but was otherwise kept in check by a Bears defense, missing all five of his usual starters in the secondary. He took four catches for 47 yards.

Johnson wants his crack at Jefferson, looking to end a strong second season on a high note.

“This week is no different,” he said. “Just going out to prepare properly. watching movie. My preparation will happen automatically.”

Johnson said he is looking forward to decompressing after Sunday and going through a thorough self-assessment process of his 2021 season. It cannot be denied that he remains overconfident in his skill set, develops confidence in his preparation routine and both of those things drive him to become a respected leader in the field of defence.

“I want to be better, so I want the people around me to be better,” Johnson said. “I want to bring people together in the best way possible, even people who inspire me to be the best version of myself. I love being on the same page of everyone and helping each other be better.” I’m big on motivating for.”

4. Odds and Ends

After their secondary ended so significantly three weeks ago, the Bears still somehow managed to keep the Vikings at just 61 net passing yards, the lowest production of the Mike Zimmer era. A week later, the Bears defense kept the Seattle Seahawks goalless in the fourth quarter and helped spark a rally for a 25–24 victory. Then, in Week 17, the Bears put together arguably their most complete defensive effort of the season in a 29-3 thrashing of the New York Giants.

Yes, the degree of difficulty of that performance must be considered. But the Bears still recorded four sacks and a safety, forcing four turnovers, putting the Giants on 155 total yards and 13 firsts on 12 possessions and not allowing a single explosive play.

“It was just a total group effort,” said coordinator Sean Desai. “Lots of energy and juice from the sidelines and from the players on the field. And really great execution of the planning and techniques and description of what we were trying to do. When we do that, we can be very special. And that was a special performance. ,

Desai was asked by his unit to explain the strong finishing stretch and what it told him.

“It just tells us about the character of our people and the character of our coaches that we have here,” he said. “Our mindset on defense has always been 1-0. We’re not changing that.”

Outside linebacker Robert Quinn added: “We’re finally living up to our standards. We’ve been inconsistent on the year. And we put ourselves in a terrible position. But as a man, as a people with pride.” In the U.S., we have to finish strong and give ourselves something positive next year.”

5. Injury Update

Defensive lineman Akim Hicks is the only Bears player to be announced on an official injury report for Friday’s finale. Hicks has been battling an ankle injury since November, and Sunday will mark the eighth game he has not played this season and the 20th in the past three seasons.

Robert Quinn (shoulder), Eddie Goldman (finger) and Duke Shelley (heel) were listed as suspects, but all three had practiced throughout Friday and were ready to play.

For the Vikings, defensive behavior Michael Pierce (illness) is suspect while McKinsey Alexander (ankle), Chris Boyd (ribs) and Wyatt Davis (illness) are suspects.

predictions

Brad Biggs (13-3)

The Vikings crashed out of the playoff race last week with a 37-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Bears counterpart Matt Nagy are likely to enter their final game before receiving pink slip. The Vikings are set to finish in second place in the NFC North, even if the Bears win and both teams end up with a 7–10 record. So nothing is really at stake at US Bank Stadium. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who returned after missing the reserve/COVID-19 list last week, has had a tough time against the Bears but has been steady against them in Minnesota. Figure that would give the Vikings a slight edge as the Bears bid to end the season with a three-game winning streak.

<चिह्न वर्ग = "hl_purple">vikings 20, bears 17

Colleen Kane (14-2)

The last time the Bears and Vikings met – a 17-9 Vikings victory in Week 15 – the Bears were missing 14 players with COVID-19. Justin Fields played injured. And Bear made many costly mistakes. Now teams meet in a game without a playoff. The Bears have resigned to that fate for weeks and still won the last two games behind Nick Foles and Andy Dalton. That’s why I think the Byers and Matt Nagy have the motivation for another win.

<चिह्न वर्ग = "hl_orange">Bears 20, Vikings 17

Dan Weider (15-1)

Neither team will play later in the season. After the end of the game, both the teams may face significant changes in their coaching staff and front office. The level of frustration is the same around every organization. Still, Vikings is just a tad better overall. And thus it will end.

<चिह्न वर्ग = "hl_purple">vikings 26, bears 24