When the Bears take on the Vikings Sunday night at Soldier Field, keep an eye out for the following matchups:
Bears LB Khalil Mack vs. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins
Mack wasted no time reintroducing himself to everyone last Sunday against the Lions after missing two weeks with an ankle injury. Mack had two sacks and five tackles. The NFC defensive player of the month for September was critical in limiting the Lions to just 76 rushing yards on the ground. Most importantly, Mack looked to be 100 percent at full speed and didn't show any signs of discomfort in his right ankle. The Bears will need Mack and the rest of their defense to step up in what will be their biggest challenge since facing the Patriots in Week 7.
Mack will be counted on to put the pressure on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. These two have met before when each was in a different uniform. Mack's Raiders played the Redskins last season when Cousins was under center, and Mack blindsided Cousins for a sack in the game. While the Vikings offensive line has had some struggles this year, Cousins has been solid despite it. The seventh-year veteran QB ranks seventh in the league with 2,685 passing yards. Minnesota was off last Sunday, but in their last outing, Cousins had a season-low in completions and passing yards, just 18 and 164, respectively. Mack's ability to get through the offensive line and get to Cousins will be critical in the Bears getting their second divisional win of the year.
Bears CB Kyle Fuller vs. Vikings WR Adam Thielen
Fuller is on pace for the best statistical season of his career. He's already tallied four interceptions this season and his next will set a new personal single-season record. His four picks are tied for second most in the league. Fuller has been a force in the secondary, adding 10 passes defended to his four interceptions, and has 25 tackles this season. He'll face one of the league's most dynamic offensive threats this season in Vikings receiver Adam Thielen.
Thielen is tied for first in the league in catches with 78, and his 947 receiving yards ranks third in the NFL. Thielsen has also found the end zone seven times. He's had the luxury of having another stud receiver on the field with him this year in Stefon Diggs. The pair has been electric this year as the only receiving duo to rank in the top-10 in receptions this season. Thielen has a touchdown reception in his last six games but is coming off his fewest receiving yards in a game since the 2016 season, picking up just 22 yards in the Vikings' win over the Lions. If Fuller can continue his lockdown coverage on Theilen, the Bears defense will be in good shape for another dominating day.
Bears RB Tarik Cohen vs. Vikings DE Danielle Hunter
Cohen has proven himself as one of the league's best dual-threat offensive players. He leads all NFL running backs with five catches of at least 25 yards and is second among backs in total receiving yards with 435. He's also picked up 244 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Cohen had six catches last Sunday but was limited to just 15 yards on seven carries. The Bears run game as a whole has been lacking recently, and a big game from Cohen against the Vikings this week could be the spark plug Chicago needs to get its ground game going.
Opposite Cohen and the Bears offense will be Hunter. Hunter was named the NFC defensive player of the week last week coming off a dominant performance against the Lions in Week 9 in which he recorded 3.5 sacks and had a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Hunter has been a scary pass rusher this season, tallying 11.5 sacks and 13 total tackles for loss. If Cohen can get the run game reenergized, and break through Hunter and company, it'll allow for the Bears to have a dynamic two-front offensive attack.