Bears vs. Vikings: Seeding and strategy will make for strange Sunday

SHARE Bears vs. Vikings: Seeding and strategy will make for strange Sunday
IMPROVING_BEARS_FOOTBALL_80814644_e1546037786815.jpg

Bears head coach Matt Nagy celebrates with his team. | David Banks/AP photo

A week spent wondering how seriously the Bears will try to win their road game Sunday against the Vikings hit home for guard Kyle Long.

“You can block out the media; you can block out all that stuff,” Long said. “But you still gotta call your brother.”

His brother Chris plays defensive end for the Eagles, who desperately need the Bears to beat the Vikings. If the Bears win and the Eagles beat the Redskins, Philadelphia will make the playoffs. If not, the Eagles’ season is over.

“He’s like, ‘What are you guys doing this week, what’s the game plan?’ ” Long said.

It’s a good question.

Coach Matt Nagy has said all week that the Bears will try to win the regular-season finale. There’s a caveat, though: If the Rams, who are heavy favorites, beat the 49ers, the Bears are locked into the No. 3 seed in the playoffs no matter the outcome against Minnesota.

If the Rams — who will be without star running back Todd Gurley — lose, the Bears would earn the No. 2 seed and a critical first-round bye by beating the Vikings.

The Rams, Bears and Eagles all play at 3:25 p.m. So do the Seahawks, who could fall from the No. 5 seed to No. 6 with an unlikely loss to the NFL’s worst team, the Cardinals.

The Bears have been scouting all three potential playoff opponents in preparation for the wild-card game, which will be played next Saturday or Sunday.

Nagy said he won’t watch the scoreboard at U.S. Bank Stadium but will have a staff member monitoring the 49ers-Rams game. He doesn’t want updates while he’s on the sideline, but he’ll take one inside the locker room at halftime.

If the Rams are running away with a likely win by halftime, Nagy said he’ll “make an educated decision” — likely to sit his starters to prevent injury.

Such a move also would limit the Bears’ playbook, a strategic advantage in anticipation of a rematch. If the Vikings and Seahawks win Sunday, the Bears would host Minnesota in the wild-card round.

“This is their first round of the playoffs,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “They have a lot to lose. So we’ve got to play them as if they have a lot to lose.

“That’s why you want to play them really well, right? You want to play them well, so you won’t have to see them again.”

RELATED

A strange day indeed might be on tap for Matt Nagy and the Bears

Unfinished business: Where does the Bears’ defense rank with Super Bowl winners?

It will make for an odd day, seemingly a tradition when the Bears finish the season in Minnesota. Two years ago, the finale was disrupted when protesters dangled from the rafters to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. They hung there the entire game.

In 2014 and 2017, the Bears finished the season in Minnesota — and fired their coach when they got home. General manager Phil Emery was canned after the 2014 game, too.

Nagy, meanwhile, started his game week with a phone call from Eagles coach Doug Pederson, his friend and former co-worker. Pederson encouraged him to beat the Vikings. So have Nagy’s friends from back home, many of whom grew up Eagles fans.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, a Pennsylvania native, has heard from Eagles coaches and friends from home, too, cheering the Bears on.

The Bears are big in Philadelphia this week.

“I’m sure we are,” Nagy said. “It’s a big game for them — for their game and our game. I get it. We get it. Like I said, we’re doing everything we possibly can to go there and win the game.”

That should make Chris Long happy. Not that his brother is feeling the pressure.

“He’s got two Super Bowl rings,” Kyle Long deadpanned. “So I could really give a . . . you know.”

The Latest
The man, 21, was discovered about 1:15 a.m. in the 3400 block of West 79th Street.
The person was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition.
The former R&B star is set to go to trial in Chicago — again — on Aug. 15. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening and why.
Fox staffed more than 225 people on site to produce the game. It took them Saturday and Sunday to run 7 ½ miles of fiber optic cable, and power providers ran about a mile of cable.
While well-edited, the collection of clips with no context or narration ends up seeming pointless, and rather hypocritical.