Four questions as the NFC North champion Bears prepare to face the Vikings, who are fighting for their playoff lives:
Can Vic Fangio stay anonymous much longer?
The Bears’ defensive coordinator figures to be on someone’s interview list once teams start firing coaches Monday.
If the Bears play in the wild-card round of the playoffs, he can’t, by NFL rules, interview until after that game is completed. If the Bears earn a first-round bye, he can interview next week.
A head-coaching job would be a marked lifestyle change for Fangio, who has interviewed for three of them in his career. In four seasons as the Bears’ coordinator, he said he has been recognized in public exactly once.
‘‘In a gas station, paying for my gas,’’ he said.
Outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who this season was amazed by the attention he got from fans at HomeGoods, wants that anonymity to end.
‘‘Put him on camera for Sunday,’’ Mack said Friday.
Mack said he thinks Fangio could be a good head coach. Selfishly, he doesn’t want it to happen.
‘‘You’re talking about one of the best coaches in football, the ‘Evil Genius’ himself,’’ Mack said. ‘‘At the same time, I want to keep him on my side.’’
Like the Bears’ odds in a rematch?
If the Vikings win — or if they and the Eagles both lose — they’ll get a rematch with the Bears in the wild-card round next weekend at Soldier Field.
Four times in the last decade, teams have squared off in Week 17 and again in the first round of the playoffs. The good news for the Bears is that the home playoff team has won three of the four postseason games.
The one exception came at the end of the 2009 regular season, when the Jets pounded the Bengals 37-0. Six days later, they traveled to Cincinnati and won 24-14.
The Bengals’ defensive coordinator was Mike Zimmer, now the Vikings’ head coach.
Not that he wanted to go down memory lane this week.
‘‘I mean . . . how many years ago is that? Seven?’’ Zimmer said.
‘‘I can’t hardly remember nine minutes ago,’’ he said.
Halftime hot tip
The Vikings opened as seven-point favorites, but the point spread — presumably because of the Bears’ insistence that they’ll try to win — has fallen to 4½.
How different is the Vikings’ offense?
Since the teams played Nov. 18, the Vikings have changed offensive coordinators. Zimmer fired John DeFilippo after a loss Dec. 10 to the Seahawks and replaced him with Kevin Stefanski.
In DeFilippo’s last two games, the Vikings went 0-2 and totaled 17 points. In Stefanski’s two games at the helm, they’re 2-0 and have scored 68 points.
Mack said the Vikings’ offense looks like it has a ‘‘fresh kind of feel’’ the last few weeks.
Zimmer, who bemoaned the Vikings’ lack of a running game under DeFilippo, was hesitant to quantify how much of an improvement the change made.
‘‘It was obviously a really difficult decision,’’ Zimmer said. ‘‘I don’t know if it was the right decision or not. It was what we did. We’ll try to continue to work through it a little bit. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks if it worked.’’
What’s with the dog?
A year ago last week, coach John Fox told the tale of Gidget, the pet monkey he had as a child.
This week, coach Matt Nagy was surprised at the office by his family dog, Tuddy — as in ‘‘Touchdown.’’ Nagy’s sons tried to throw the dog treats during the taping of a video interview on the team’s website.
‘‘I think he’s smarter than what we think,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘He’s trying to miss it because he knows he gets another attempt, so he just gets more treats.’’