Numbers can help tell a story in a football game. Here's a look at 10 important or interesting statistics that could play a role in Sunday afternoon's game between the Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
Percentage of Sam Bradford's passes that have been intercepted this season. The Minnesota quarterback has thrown 519 passes but has only been picked off four times all year. Only New England's Tom Brady, who has an interception percentage of 0.5 (two interceptions in 399 attempts), has been a better protector of the pigskin than Bradford.
Rushes of 40 yards or longer allowed by the Chicago defense this season. The longest runs given up by the Bears in 2016 have been 61 yards in each of their last two games by the Packers' Ty Montgomery and the Redskins' Mack Brown.
Games this season with 100 or more receiving yards by Chicago wide receiver Cameron Meredith. The second-year player had 130 yards in Week 5 versus Indianapolis, 113 the following week against Jacksonville, 104 in Week 15 against Green Bay and a career-high 135 last Saturday against Washington. Meredith has the same number of 100-yard performances this season as some of the NFL's top wide receivers, including Odell Beckham of the New York Giants and Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown.
Interceptions thrown by Bears quarterback Matt Barkley last Saturday in the Week 16 game versus Washington. Barkley became the third quarterback in the NFL this season to throw five or more interceptions in a game, joining Seattle's Russell Wilson and the New York Jets' Ryan Fitzpatrick with that dubious accomplishment. Barkley still finished with a completion percentage of 60 percent despite being picked off five times versus the Redskins.
Percentage of fourth-down attempts versus the Minnesota defense this season that have been successful, making the Vikings the toughest team in the league on fourth down. Opponents have gone for it 12 times against Minnesota and only converted twice. The Bears offense will have a difficult task in front of them if faced with a fourth down on Sunday, as Chicago has only converted three of 12 fourth-down attempts this year; the 25 percent success rate is second-lowest in the NFL.
Rushing yards needed by Jordan Howard in the Week 17 game versus the Vikings to be Chicago's single-season rookie rushing leader. Howard currently has 1,178 rushing yards, good enough for third all-time on the franchise's list for first-year players, trailing Matt Forte and Anthony Thomas. Forte is the all-time leader, with 1,238 yards in 2008.
Starts made by Bears rookies through 15 games, the second-most in the NFL. Only the Cleveland Browns – who have had 67 starts by first-year players – top Chicago. Center Cody Whitehair (15 starts) and running back Jordan Howard (12 starts) lead the way for Chicago's rookie crop. Minnesota ranks last in the league in this department, with only two starts made by first-year players thus far.
Rushing yards per game averaged by the Vikings offense this season, the lowest in the NFL. Minnesota has been held under 100 net yards rushing in all but one of its games this year. The performance is a big step back to what the Vikings are accustomed to, as the team finished fourth in the league in rushing yards per game in 2015 with an average of 138.2 yards per contest.
Alshon Jeffery's average receiving yards in his past six games against Minnesota. The Chicago wideout has torched the Vikings throughout his career. In Week 8, Jeffery had four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown versus Minnesota at Soldier Field. Over his past six games in the series, Jeffery has also scored six touchdowns.
Total first downs recorded by the Bears this season. That ranks right in the middle of the pack – 17th overall – throughout the league. Chicago's defense has only surrendered 301 first downs, which ranks 13th in the NFL. In Week 16 versus Washington, the Bears offense recorded 31 first downs, the team's highest total in a game this season.