Bears-Vikings: 3 matchups to watch in Week 5

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(670 The Score) It’s Week 5. The Bears’ month away from home continues. Of the five games they play in October, only one of them – the matchup against the Washington Commanders next Thursday – is at Soldier Field. That’s either good news or bad news, depending on how you value home-field advantage against not having to wait 45 minutes on the one single entrance ramp into the parking lots. Chicago is headed to Minnesota next, which is weird because it’s not Week 17 (...right?). The Vikings are technically the best team in the NFC North right now, so maybe it only really did only take 10 years to understand what kind of a player Kirk Cousins was after all. The Bears are coming off a game played somewhere, against some other team, with some final score line. We don’t need to remember much else about it. For this one, though, here are the matchups to watch.

Bears’ offensive line vs. literally any blitzing Viking (a very cool sentence) 
You may be aware of the Bears’ struggles in pass protection. If not, let’s get you up to speed. Currently, quarterback Justin Fields is tied for second in the NFL with 16 sacks taken. The Bears’ preferred center can’t grip the ball due to a hand ailment, so he’s been rotating at guard with their most talented offensive lineman, who was drafted to be a left tackle but now plays right guard, sometimes. The Bears' current center had a 1.5 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus last week, which isn't a typo. And now, they won’t even have starting guard Cody Whitehair, who wasn’t exactly good but was definitely not bad. Sacks are never entirely an offensive line’s fault, but no one’s going to stop you from blaming this group. Blitzes are reaching decade-long lows across the league right now, especially on early downs. So maybe this doesn’t end up being a huge problem, but I imagine that NFL defensive coordinators may also have noticed that the Bears’ offensive line can’t pass block. Fields has the speed to miraculously escape three or four times per game, but if the Vikings bring any sort of sustained pressure, get ready for another 17-14 game.

Bears RB Khalil Herbert vs. the Vikings’ front four 
The good news for Chicago is that the Vikings’ run defense is pretty terrible. The group is allowing 131.0 rushing yards a game, which currently ranks 23rd in the NFL. The Bears, on the other hand, have had one of the best rushing attacks in football even without their, you know, starting running back. It’s why, weirdly enough, Chicago is a top-five team in terms of big plays this year. Maybe the offense isn’t that broken after all! If the Bears are going to pull off an upset, it’s probably going to be because Fields throws 11 passes again while Herbert (with an assist from Khari Blasingame, shoutout fullbacks) runs 25 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns or something like that. So basically, really exciting, enjoyable football for your Sunday afternoon. But a win’s a win, which is important to remember as the Bears continue to sacrifice the development of their franchise quarterback for a couple gritty victories and the 12th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s a new era in Chicago!

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Bears CB Kyler Gordon
This speaks for itself.

Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.

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