The last time they played the Vikings, the Bears mercifully concluded a disappointing 2017 season with a 23-10 loss in Minnesota that dropped their record to 5-11.
Less than a year later, their fortunes have changed considerably as they prepare to host the Vikings Sunday night at Soldier Field. Fueled by a dynamic first-year head coach in Matt Nagy, an explosive offense and dominant defense, the Bears sit perched atop the NFC North with a 6-3 record. With seven games remaining, they've already registered more wins and scored more points than they did all of last season.
"I'm not surprised but definitely excited and happy about it because this is what we worked for and this is how we envisioned the turnaround happening," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "We got the right head guy in here. Coach Nagy is definitely leading the charge, and we have the right guys in our locker room to change the culture around."
While Nagy is proud of his team's success and embracing the position the Bears have put themselves in, he's far from satisfied. He knows that there's a lot of football to be played and he's not focusing on anything beyond Sunday night's game.
"I'm not surprised where we're at, but I also know that we've got a ways to go," Nagy said. "I'm by no means content, happy, hey-this-is-great, no. I don't care right now where we're at. All I care about is this week and I'm going to make sure the team understands that.
"It's exciting. [But] we're still only nine games into this thing and I know I keep saying that every week, but that's true and that's real. It's a week-to-week thing for us. With that said, it's great to be able to be in a spot where your games truly matter and they mean something."
With the winner of Sunday night's clash claiming sole possession of first place in the NFC North, the game is being billed as the biggest the Bears have played since they lost to the Packers in the 2013 season finale that determined the division champion.
"You've got to know the level picks up a little bit," Nagy said, "and so that's what I'm trying to make sure that these guys understand this is an important game. Get that, understand that, but don't overdo it to the point where you stress and you play tight. I don't want that.
"I feel like the experience that we have with some of the guys on the team, with some of the coaches on the team, we can make sure that we temper that and have a great week of preparation, so that when they get there Sunday night and their juices are flowing, they're letting loose and they're having fun."
Bears players aren't the only ones Nagy hopes will be at their best Sunday night.
"It's our challenge to our fans for this night game to come out here and just get as crazy as they can, as loud as they can," Nagy said. "It means so much to our players when they're out there, in particular the defense. When that defense is out there and you're in the red zone and it's third down and our crowd's going crazy and you hear them and they're standing up and they're rocking, there's nothing like that.
"That's my challenge to our players to come out and be very excited, but also our fans. You only get so many of these opportunities. You don't want to overdo it. There's a balance to it. But you've got to understand what's real. We're going to be ready to go, play our game and we're really looking forward to those fans being ready, too."
Players got back to work Wednesday during practice at Halas Hall as they prepare for the Sunday night game against the Vikings.