5 reasons the Minnesota Vikings need to win in week 17 vs Bears
The Minnesota Vikings may look dead in the water, but there are plenty of great reasons they should give it their all in week 17 against the Chicago Bears.
Week 16 of the 2016 NFL season is in the books, and it was a crushing one for fans of the Minnesota Vikings. Not only was their team defeated by division rival Green Bay, but they were knocked out of the playoff picture with the loss.
The Vikings now look forward to a week 17 contest that will have no impact on the playoff picture whatsoever. Their opponents in that game at U.S. Bank Stadium will be the Chicago Bears, who defeated them by 10 points in their previous meeting.
While it may look like a useless game on paper, there are three major reasons why the boys in purple will need to come to play in a big way in week 17, even though they will not be making the postseason.
Let’s discuss the reasons why the Minnesota Vikings need to win this game, starting with squashing rumors about insubordination and players going rogue in the team’s locker room last week.
Oct 9, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A Minnesota Vikings fan holds up a sign for the defense during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Texans 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
#1. Prove the team is a unit
Currently, the biggest topic of conversation when it comes to the Minnesota Vikings is the rumor of the players on the team going against their coach’s orders when covering Jordy Nelson in week 16 against the Packers.
This has become a major media spin, with fingers being pointed at Rhodes for disobeying, Newman for supposedly orchestrating the idea, or Mike Zimmer for losing the players who supposedly ‘bought in’ to his defense.
What the Vikings need to do is come out and defensively dominate the Bears. While that wouldn’t take all of the criticism away, it would help to silence a lot of the rumblings of problems in the locker room with this team.
Sadly, this will be just one of the topics that will likely linger into the offseason for Minnesota. But with more details coming out about it on a daily basis and a solid defensive performance against Chicago, hopefully it won’t be as distracting.
Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (21) carries the ball during the fourth quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
#2. Improve division record
When looking at the big picture for the Vikings, it’s hard to realize that the team has been quite bad against their divisional opponents in the NFC North during the 2016 National Football League season.
In fact, Minnesota has only been able to win one game against the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, or Chicago Bears to this point, resulting in a division record of 1-4. That is not what you want to see from a team that won the division the previous year.
While 2-4 isn’t much better, it’s more respectable. There is no way to go back in time and win one game against the Lions or change the outcome of their losses to the Packers or Bears earlier in the season, but two is always better than one.
Not only that, but the Bears only have three wins on the season entering week 17. However, looking at those wins, two are against their opponents in the NFC North. And the Minnesota Vikings can’t want to be the team with the most losses against the division this season.
Nov 20, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
#3. Get Adam Thielen 1,000 yards receiving
Earlier this season, Stefon Diggs was the leading receiver in the NFL and appeared to be on track to become the first 1,000 yard receiver since Sidney Rice was catching passes from Brett Favre back in 2009.
While Diggs has struggled to stay consistent with yardage, his teammate Adam Thielen has exploded onto the scene and has put himself in fantastic position to achieve that mark in week 17 against the Chicago Bears.
Coming into the game, Thielen stands at 960 receiving yards on 91 targets. That means he only needs 40 more yards to reach 1,000 on the season, which would be mighty impressive for a guy who worked his way up from being a camp body to being an NFL starter.
Don’t write off Diggs on joining him though. It will be a bigger challenge since he needs 97 yards, but it is definitely possible if Bradford can spread the ball around. If that can happen, Diggs and Thielen can be the first receiver pair since Randy Moss and Cris Carter to go for 1,000 in a season.
Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts defeated the Vikings 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
#4. End the season without a losing record
Normally, there is an absolute when it comes to being a winner and a loser. Teams like the Browns and 49ers can have that label as losers since their record is so abysmal and they just plain are not a competitive football team.
The Vikings have a chance at being an ‘average’ team instead of a team with a losing record. After week 16’s loss, the Vikings stand at 7-8. With a win in against the Bears in week 17, the team can be 8-8 instead of 7-9.
That might not seem like a big difference, and some fans will say that Minnesota should lose to get a higher draft position, it can be big for the franchise. They have overcome a lot this season, and to not be a losing team in 2016 could seem like a win.
Not only that, but they can hold the Bears down once again and keep them at 3 wins. At that point, the Bears season has to be considered a major disappointment. And while the Vikings would be average at 8-8 and the season would be a little disappointing, at least they wouldn’t be losers.
Oct 18, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer questions a call against the Kansas City Chiefs at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings won 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
#5. Finish the season on a high note
Now it is time to be realistic. Fans in Minnesota want a Super Bowl championship for the Vikings. The team has a lot of talent, but suffered catastrophic setbacks over and over during the 2016 which pushed that goal further and further out of reach.
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Losing players like Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, Jake Long, Sharrif Floyd, Antone Exum, and Tom Johnson all hurt in a major way. Still, the Vikings were competitive in a majority of their games and fought every week.
After a red-hot 5-0 start, the Vikings have now won only 2 of their last 9 games. Finishing with a win over the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium could be a huge motivator and take a bit of the sour taste out of the mouth of the fans as well as players and coaches.
Encouragement will be important when the team returns for the 2017 season. A winning mentality goes a long way for a team, and if winning is fresh in the mind of the players and fans, the positive nature of a win might carry over to the next season and remind this team that they can get things done, even when facing adversity.
What do you think of the Minnesota Vikings week 17 contest against the Chicago Bears? Is this an important game for the team, or is it meaningless in the scope of the franchise? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.