From a suggestion by a reader, we continue our “snap reactions” weekly piece detailing thoughts and analysis after a Minnesota Vikings game.
This will be off-the-cuff, a wee bit “random,” and hopefully insightful.
The Vikings finished 13-4 during Kevin Connell’s maiden voyage, winning the NFC North and defeating the rival Chicago Bears at their house on Sunday. The Bears didn’t have much to play for — at all — and even ended the day with the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft courtesy of a win by the Houston Texans. It was a fabulous day for both teams when it was all said and done.
12 Snap Reactions after Vikings at Bears
1 – Throughout the week, it seemed odd that Kevin O’Connell wouldn’t entertain resting starters to ensure optimal health for the postseason. But his strategy worked at Chicago, winning the game, erasing the sour taste from last week at Green Bay, forming some offensive line chemistry, and getting young players some run. Well done.
2 – By beating the stinky Bears, the Vikings handed the 1st overall pick in April’s draft to Chicago. There’s not much the Vikings could’ve done to prevent this, but it is interesting nevertheless.
3 – Duke Shelley, who had an interception today, might be playing his way into a starting job for the 2023 Vikings, something that no one had on their bingo boards two months ago.
4 – The Vikings offensive line had an efficient outing. That could be the most significant takeaway from the win in Chicago because the unit is ravaged by injuries. Against the Bears bad defense, Oli Udoh and Chris Reed held up.
5 – Justin Jefferson’s hair looked really sweet, and the phenom playmaker finished 2022 with back-to-back quiet games. Maybe he’s sitting on a monster performance against the New York Giants in postseason?
6 – Greg Joseph hit three field goals at Soldier Field, a spot that isn’t typically considered an easy place to kick. He needed the momentum after a lousy afternoon in Week 17 at Green Bay.
7 – The Bears have gobs of cap space in 2023, a quarterback progressing in the right direction, and the 1st overall pick. Sunday’s game might’ve been the last one in a while where the Bears were awful.
8 – Jalen Nailor registered 4 catches for 62 yards. It was his second notable performance in as many weeks. He might be eyeing a WR2 or WR3 job in 2023.
9 – Ryan Wright only punted once for the Vikings, so you can tell what kind of afternoon it was for Minnesota via that stat alone.
10 – Minnesota’s reservist players played quite well in the 2nd Half. That’s important because the defense may be a couple of months away from a total overhaul. Men were auditioning for 2023 starting jobs against the Bears.
11 – Even by beating the Bears, Vikings fans don’t know what to expect next weekend in the playoffs — a team that finally puts it all together, a group that lays an egg akin to the 1st of the game versus the Colts, or somewhere in between. It’s very odd to get this late in the season with fans wondering, “how good are these guys?” Can you recall a more mysterious Vikings team with 12+ wins in a season?
12 – The Vikings have beaten the Bears thrice consecutively at Soldier Field for the first time since 1998-2000. Minnesota demons at Soldier Field, for now, have quieted.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).