Here are four questions as the Bears prepare host the Vikings on “Sunday Night Football”:
Big game, right? Or the biggest game?
Khalil Mack is tired of hearing people talk about the effect winning Sunday will have on the Bears’ place in the NFC North.
“The mindset is to win this game and let everything else take care of itself,” the Bears’ star edge rusher said Friday. “You could talk about it all day — I hate talking about it, if y’all out there can’t tell already — but yeah, we just want to go out and win. That’s the only thing on my mind, for sure.”
He’ll face maybe his biggest test of the year. The Vikings could have their entire starting offensive line back for the first time since Week 5
if guards Tom Compton (knee) and Mike Remmers (back), who are questionable, play. The Vikings ruled out safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) and tight end David Morgan (knee). The Bears listed defensive tackle Bilal Nichols and receiver Javon Wims, who have knee injuries, as questionable.
Mack doesn’t deny the game’s importance.
“You want to be in a spot where you can kind of clinch this thing down the line,” Mack said. “So this is going to be a game that can very well tell the story toward the end of the season.”
Will Mack be the best pass rusher on the field?
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter might be. He’s second in the NFL with 11½ sacks, and has posted a sack in each of his last seven games.
Hunter, who signed a five-year, $72 million extension in June, is one sack away from tying his career high.
Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich called the LSU alum “a guy who just gets on edges of people” when he rushes.
“He’s got great counter moves, he’s got speed, he’s got power,” Helfrich said. “They move him around enough to make it a very difficult proposition.”
Halftime hot tip
The Bears, who are 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 home games against the Vikings, are a 2½-point favorite Sunday.
Will Adam Shaheen come back Sunday?
Coach Matt Nagy hopes the team will activate the tight end Saturday. But at whose expense? If the Bears take Shaheen off injured reserve at midafternoon Saturday, they’ll have to cut someone from their active roster.
Tight end Dion Sims, who was ruled out for the second straight week with a concussion, could be an IR candidate.
Tight end Daniel Brown or running back/returner Taquan Mizzell also are candidates who could be cut. But what about Kevin White? The former first-round pick has been a healthy scratch the last two weeks and doesn’t play special teams. Nagy praised the receiver’s effort level Friday, though.
“Kevin has been outstanding as far as where he’s at mentally and how he’s handled this situation — I mean that,” Nagy said. “Two weeks ago when we decided to make the move to deactivate him, we had a good long sit-down talk and that’s just what I believe in. We were very honest with each other. We talked. He understands. He knows what I’m looking for. I know where he’s coming from.”
Did Peanut teach his punch?
Former Bears star cornerback Charles Tillman who created the “Peanut Punch,” talked to the defense about his specialty Thursday.
“You could kind of guess if you bring in Peanut Tillman to the defensive team meeting — Yeah, it’s all about turnovers and getting after the ball,” Mack said. “So that’s going to be very important for us this week.”
The emphasis on turnovers has an offensive element, too.
Earlier this week, Nagy showed the Bears a video of every time they scored a touchdown after getting the ball back on a turnover. The message: don’t settle for three points.
“Not a field goal, but a touchdown afterwards,” Nagy said.