Notebook: Bears, Vikings head into finale awaiting potential housecleanings
Also, a look at the Bears’ attendance numbers, and they finally don’t have anybody on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Amid the constantly changing computations of playoff eligibility, there was a chance the Bears’ season finale against the Vikings could’ve been pushed to a later kickoff Sunday or even moved up as part of the NFL’s Saturday doubleheader.
But with the Bears long eliminated from the playoffs and the Vikings getting buried by the Packers, the league had no interest in showcasing the game.
The NFL always tries to get a make-or-break game for ‘‘Sunday Night Football’’ on the last day of the season, but it added the Saturday games this season and needed matchups in which at least one of the teams had something at stake.
It found its gem with the Chargers visiting the Raiders — the winner will clinch a postseason spot — and locked that in for Sunday night.
The Saturday games will feature the Chiefs still vying for the No. 1 seed as they visit the Broncos, as well as the Cowboys facing the Eagles with both teams already in the playoffs but trying to improve their seeding.
Meanwhile, Bears-Vikings will play out with little drama other than to see if the teams will embark on massive overhauls as soon as it ends.
It seems inevitable that the Bears will fire coach Matt Nagy after the game, but it’s not as clear if the same fate awaits general manager Ryan Pace. In Minnesota, general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer are in jeopardy as the Vikings have gone 32-31-1 in the last four seasons.
Between those teams flat-lining and the Lions’ perpetual ineptitude, the Packers improved to 15-2 in the NFC North the last three seasons by thumping the Vikings 37-10.
It’s the best division record in the NFL during that span, and they finish against the Lions on Sunday.
The Bears wrapped up their home schedule with their 29-3 victory against the Giants on Sunday and reported their official attendance — based on ticket sales, not actual people at the games — at an average of 60,834. Soldier Field has the smallest capacity in the NFL at 61,500.
The Bears selling 98.9% of their tickets ranks 14th in the NFL, but, again, that number is misleading. The official attendance for the Giants game was 59,594, for example, but the stadium appeared to be about two-thirds full.
In 2019, when they entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, the Bears reported standing-room-only crowds at an average of 61,916 and ranked third in the NFL at 100.7% of capacity.
With the addition of the 17th game this season, all NFC teams played eight home games and nine on the road. The Bears will have nine home games next season.
The Bears finally emptied their reserve/COVID-19 list Monday by activating tight end Jesper Horsted and linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe.
At the height of their outbreak last month, the Bears had 14 players on the list. Their entire starting secondary was out when they hosted the Vikings in Week 15.