The Minnesota Vikings will go for a season sweep of a division rival when they host the Chicago Bears on Monday night in Minneapolis.
Minnesota (6-5) earned a 19-13 win in Chicago in Week 6. That ignited a five-game winning streak that ended last week when the Denver Broncos handed the Vikings a 21-20 loss.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell reportedly decided against allowing his best player — wideout Justin Jefferson — to return from a hamstring injury, opting instead to play it safe and keep Jefferson out for this week plus the team’s bye next week.
Jefferson was listed as questionable on the Vikings’ final injury report. The Vikings have until Monday at 4 p.m. ET to officially decide whether to activate Jefferson for the game.
The 24-year-old Jefferson had 36 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns when he went down in the fifth game of the season.
“We have urgency to win this football game,” O’Connell said. “We’re just not going to allow that to distract us from the fact that we started out with some really strong principles in making sure Justin was at a good place and 100 percent healthy when he returns. … We’re not going to allow any other outside circumstances or even the circumstances of our team to drive that situation in any way, shape or form.”
Questions also surround Chicago (3-8), albeit for different reasons. The Bears are positioned to have a couple high picks in next year’s NFL draft, and they must decide whether Justin Fields is their long-term answer at quarterback or whether they should turn to a top prospect.
Fields, 24, has completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 1,370 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions in seven games. He also has rushed for 341 yards and a touchdown.
In his last game against the Vikings, Fields sustained a dislocated right thumb that forced him to miss four games. He was 6 of 10 for 58 yards with an interception when he was injured.
“We’re better than what we put on tape that game,” Fields said. “(It’s all about) putting our best foot forward. Making sure we’re on our Ps and Qs each and every play. Locked in and getting the ball out fast when we need to, when they do bring that pressure. It’s going to be key. When they do bring pressure, the O-line picking it up. Everything starts up front.”
Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs also has spent a fair amount of time evading pressure in the pocket since he joined the team in an Oct. 31 trade with the Arizona Cardinals. Dobbs has passed for 647 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in three games with Minnesota, and he has rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns.
Bears running back D’Onta Foreman (ankle/shin), guard Larry Borom (illness), linebacker Noah Sewell (knee) and cornerback Tyrique Stevenson (ankle) were ruled out. Foreman’s injury likely means Khalil Herbert will serve as the No. 1 running back.
For the Vikings, tight end T.J. Hockenson (ribs) returned to full practice Saturday and is not listed on the injury report. Cornerback Akayleb Evans (calf) also practiced Saturday but remains questionable.
One player within range of a statistical milestone is Bears wide receiver D.J. Moore. He needs 111 receiving yards to secure his fourth career 1,000-yard season.