Should the Chicago Bears lose to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, they could draft as high as sixth in the first round and as low as ninth, while their pick could fall as low as 12th with a win.
The Bears have nothing to gain by winning.
It certainly wouldn’t change Ryan Pace’s mind in any way about the futures of the people on his coaching staff or in his front office.
On the other hand, the Vikings with a win can guarantee themselves a bye in the first round of the playoffs, a home game in the divisional round, and they could play the NFC title game at home should the Eagles lose in the divisional round.
A loss could mean the Vikings would have to win three games, two on the road, with no time off to get to the Super Bowl.
The Vikings cannot afford to risk losing to the Bears; they are a significantly better team than the Bears, and they are playing at home.
Add to that the fact that Kyle Long is already on injured reserve, and left guard Josh Sitton and right tackle Bobby Massie are almost certain to be inactive, and what do you expect to happen?
As much as I’d love to give you a unit-by-unit series of matchups analyzing the Bears’ chances of an upset, it is a waste of time.
The Bears are going to get beat, and the only thing that will keep it short of “beat badly” is if the Vikings get up by enough early to start resting people.
The Vikings are first in the NFL in total defense and have allowed the fewest points this season, but a bit surprisingly are just 15th in QB sack
Nonetheless, Minnesota defensive ends Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and Brian Robison form one of the more fearsome pass-rushing trios in the league, and should this get out of hand early, even though John Fox is likely coaching his last game as a Bear, he should strongly consider sitting Mitch Trubisky down if his patchwork O-line is unable to do its job.
As much as Trubisky still needs reps – and he most definitely does – they won’t be productive reps if he’s running for his life, and the only way things could get worse for Fox is if the exclamation point on his Bears career is a serious injury to the most important player on the team.
No, you can’t play that way in the NFL under almost any circumstances, but Sunday’s are going to be highly unusual.
What will be worth watching is how well Charles Leno Jr. holds up against Griffen (assuming Griffen stays in the game), to confirm or dispute my belief that one of the Bears’ two greatest needs is an upgrade at Leno’s position.
Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright are veteran receivers who can make their cases with Pace that they should be retained if they can make themselves available against one of the league’s best secondaries.
Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara, along with linebacker Christian Jones, will all be worth watching as well, as the game will be their final auditions from which Pace will decide whether or not to work to keep them – and other teams will decide how high they should take the bidding if they can.
Those three are the only important free-agent decisions the Bears have this year, but Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris, Nick Kwiatkoski and Adrian Amos are other players whose performances might have some impact on how Pace re-shapes his roster this offseason.
At the end of the day, the only important thing for the Bears in Minnesota on Sunday will be to leave healthy.