SPORTS

VIKINGS MUST BEAT 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.

Vikings defense, which ranks 2nd in the NFL allowing 314.3 yards per game, is also ranked 8th in points allowed per game (19.8). 2nd-year DE Danielle Hunter leads all NFL DEs with 12.0 sacks while veteran DEs Everson Griffen (8.0) and Brian Robinson (7.0) are 2nd and 3rd on the team. The Vikings are the only team in the NFL to have 3 DEs with 7+ sacks this season.

QB Sam Bradford, who is 7th in the NFL with a career-high 98.3 passer rating, has thrown 17 TDs and 4 INTs on 370-of-519 passing (71.3%, 1st in NFL). WR Stefon Diggs, TE Kyle Rudolph and WR Adam Thielen have all had career years, setting new career bests in receptions and receiving yards this season. WR Cordarrelle Patterson, who leads the NFL in kick return yards (757) and kick return average (31.5), has also set a new career high with 51 receptions.

 “We’re a good team,” guard Brandon Fusco said. “It’s not us. It’s not Viking football. That’s what is frustrating, we’re such a good team. What we’re putting out on the field is not us. We have to watch the film and get better from this.”

Cutler had not played since he left the second game of the season against Philadelphia. But with his future up in the air after coach John Fox wavered in his commitment to him as the starter, he made a triumphant return.

Cutler completed 20 of 31 passes, including an 11-yard touchdown to Jeffery early in the third that made it 20-3. Whether he quieted fans who thought the Bears were better off with Brian Hoyer is another issue. But that became a moot point when Hoyer broke his left arm last week in a Thursday night loss at Green Bay.