Bears @ Vikings
Final Score: Vikings 31, Bears 17
Writer: Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)
This one was really a tale of two halves. In an ultimately meaningless game (both Chicago and Minnesota were eliminated from the playoffs before this week started), we actually had plenty of action to keep things exciting. Chicago struck first, scoring a field goal on the opening drive. They continued to move the ball well, but they fell short on fourth down sacks each of their next two drives. The Bears put up another field goal and their loan touchdown followed by a Vikings field goal, making it 14-3 at halftime. At this point, the Chicago offense was moving the ball well, they were controlling the clock, and it seemed like the Vikings were already halfway out the door. Well, games last 60 minutes for a reason. The Vikings scored a touchdown out of halftime, grabbing momentum and finally showing a sign of life. The Bears answered with a field goal, and they went into the fourth quarter up 17-10. Minnesota took over in the fourth, scoring 21 unanswered points and forcing repeated big mistakes from Andy Dalton. The Vikings finish 8-9 while the Bears drop to 6-11. Both teams are expected to move on from their head coaches this offseason.
Andy Dalton: 33/48, 325 yards, TD, 2 INT, 7 sacks | 1 carry, 7 yards
Andy Dalton played well early in this one–despite what the final numbers say. He led his team on multiple long drives, regularly getting into scoring position. If Chicago had converted more scores early, I think they would have won easily in a blowout. That’s the problem though: fourth down was a disaster today. Andy Dalton was sacked on fourth down three times early in the game. He threw a pick on a late fourth-down play. The team kept trying to pass, and Minnesota’s defense brought the pressure–to great effect. Both of Andy Dalton’s picks came in the fourth quarter, and they nailed the coffin shut on this one. Dalton completely melted down at the end, regularly getting sacked and throwing picks. That being said, he would be a solid backup next year to Justin Fields if he is interested in sticking around on a reasonable contract.
PATRICK PETERSON PICK-SIX 💪
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/yCZ4iduHUO
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 9, 2022
David Montgomery: 20 carries, 72 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards
Khalil Herbert: 4 carries, 11 yards
Damien Williams: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 33 yards, TD
David Montgomery finished out the season where he did last year: the workhorse of a bad offense. Montgomery is the kind of player who would be a no-brainer first-rounder if we could just get him on a high-powered offense, like Kansas City or Arizona. He languishes in Chicago, though, where the scoring opportunities are few and far between. It’s going to be interesting to see how this backfield shakes out next season as Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, and Tarik Cohen battle for touches. I find Herbert to be the best runner and overall best weapon. Montgomery has the team’s trust and the lead in any competition with his body of work. Cohen is the X-factor; we still haven’t heard much from him since the major knee injury. If I had to guess, Montgomery and Herbert split the workload (think 60-40 or 70-30) and Cohen is moved in the offseason.
.@andydalton14 hits Damien Williams for 6! 🎯 #CHIvsMIN | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/7H5coqCZZI
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 9, 2022
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Darnell Mooney: 15 targets, 12 receptions, 126 yards
Cole Kmet: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 48 yards
Damiere Byrd: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 47 yards
Allen Robinson: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards
Jimmy Graham: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards
Darnell Mooney has finished his second season, and he officially joins the 1,000-yard club. Mooney was targeted all over today, and this could be a sign of things to come. The big question for the offseason will be how Mooney functions in the number one role. Assuming Allen Robinson leaves this offseason, Mooney would be the only wide receiver of note in Chicago. He has a great rapport with his quarterbacks, finishing the year with almost five receptions per game. Allen Robinson had a pair of catches, and his season ends with a whimper. It’s sad to see Robinson go out this way, but he wanted money the team just couldn’t give him. Hopefully he finds a good landing spot next season. Cole Kmet had some nice grabs today but hasn’t shown anything we haven’t already seen from him. As I mentioned last week, it will be important to see how Cole Kmet spends his offseason.
Kirk Cousins: 14/22, 250 yards, 3 TD, 3 sacks | 1 carry, -1 yards
Kirk Cousins looked like he was set for a total dud early in this one. His team’s first-half drives totaled a combined 77 yards of offense and they hadn’t found the endzone. It has struck me for a while that Cousins would always block this team from success. Well, he turned it around in the second half. Cousins made a few nice deep throws–partly thanks to defensive lapses from Chicago–and completed a big comeback. Cousins is clearly not a game-changer, and Minnesota should be looking at their options–be it drafting or trading for a new QB. He will never be an exciting fantasy option or a guy you expect to win the big games.
Every garbage time pass from 2021 Kirk Cousins: pic.twitter.com/tFXSzs4n3G
— Drew🌳 (@YouGotMossedx) January 9, 2022
Dalvin Cook: 14 carries, 79 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards
Alexander Mattison: 5 carries, 18 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards
Dalvin Cook was lucky to get out of this one with 79 yards. Chicago has always played Dalvin Cook well, and this game was no exception. He was bottled up for most of the game (seeing the trend with this offense?) until he broke some nice runs later in the game. Cook had more than 60 of his rushing yards in the second half, and most of those on the team’s last two touchdown drives. Cook will continue to be the workhorse in Minnesota next season. Alexander Mattison had a couple of good carries, but he is only interesting as a handcuff. Nothing has changed here.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Justin Jefferson: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 107 yards, TD | 1 carry, 4 yards
Ihmir Smith-Marsette: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 103 yards, TD
K.J. Osborn: 4 targets, 1 reception, 21 yards, TD
Tyler Conklin: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 6 yards
Justin Jefferson pulled down 75 of his team-leading 107 yards in the fourth quarter as he chased, but ultimately fell short of, Randy Moss‘s single-season yardage record. Jefferson’s touchdown was a 45-yard pass through the air that hit him open in the endzone. He was covered by a Chicago safety who ultimately lost track of the ball–as well as the man he was covering. It’s gonna be a problem when you don’t cover Jefferson in the endzone. This touchdown made the game a 17-17 tie and stole all remaining momentum away from the Bears. Jefferson is an elite fantasy option for next season. Ihmir Smith-Marsette made his day on his 44-yard touchdown catch. On the play, the defender covering him fell down and he ran free for an easy score. Smith-Marsette could be interesting next season, but I haven’t seen enough by any means.
OH HE'S OPEN!!!@KirkCousins8 hits @KJ_Osborn to give the #Vikings the lead. pic.twitter.com/fq8031jwjQ
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 9, 2022
— Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)