Our Pledge To You

Bears

Bears-Vikings: What 2 Watch 4

KEY MATCHUP

The Vikings sacked Lions quarterback Matt Stafford six times last week, with defensive end Danielle Hunter setting the tone early by beating Lions right tackle Rick Wagner twice for sacks. Bears right tackle Bobby Massie knows what he’s up against.

“Hunter’s … big, explosive. He’s got long arms,” Massie said. “I know him. He knows me. We’ve played against each other a few times over the years. It’ll be a good game.”

The onus in general will be on the Bears offensive line, including the tight ends, to keep Mitch Trubisky as clean as possible in his first NFL start.

Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) had two of the Vikings six sacks last week (Bruce Kluckhohn/AP)

“Just so he can keep his confidence up,” Massie said. “It’s his first start against a hell of a defense on Monday night — prime time — so if we give him time and let him make his reads, he can show the world what he can do.”

TRENDING

The Bears, who had just eight interceptions in both 2015 and 2016, have not had an interception in four games this season — one of four teams without one so far.

The Vikings are one of three teams yet to throw an interception — none in 132 attempts by Case Keenum and Sam Bradford.

KEY PLAYER

Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky will make his regular-season debut against the Vikings. It’s a difficult assignment against a Vikings defense that ranks 12th in total defense and first in third-down efficiency — but 20th in passing yards per attempt.

The Vikings faced two rookies last season: the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott was 12-of-18 for 139 yards, one touchdown and on interceptions for a 108.3 rating in a 17-15 victory at U.S. Bank Stadium; the Eagles’ Carson Wentz was 16-of-28 for 138 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a 52.4 rating in a 21-10 victory at home.

Of the 11 rookie quarterbacks to start for the Bears in the Super Bowl era, Jim McMahon had the best debut. Despite throwing two interceptions in his first two passes to wide receivers — one that was returned for a touchdown — McMahon recovered to lead the Bears to a 20-17 victory over the Lions. He finished 16-of-27 for 233 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions fro a 72.5 rating.

X-FACTOR

When Trubisky made his NFL debut in the preseason, he completed his first 10 passes, led the Bears to three scoring drives and gave everybody on the field — and in the stands at Soldier Field —  a palpable lift.

That was the preseason with and against second- and third-team players. This is the regular season against one of the NFL’s top defenses. It remains to be seen what intangible impact Trubisky can have in this setting. He could be overwhelmed early. But the momentum can build quickly if he gets off to a hot start.

RELATED STORIES

Bears GM Ryan Pace needs HR, and finally has the right guy at bat

Why the Bears are excited to see Mitch Trubisky succeed — and fail