Vikings beat Bears, clinch 1st-round bye in NFC playoffs

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Capture the NFC North? Their first play in Vikings territory didn't come until the 13:52 mark in the fourth quarter.

The rematch with the Bears (5-10) Sunday, however, has proven to be just as important for the Vikings (12-3). A win over Chicago would have them locked into the second seed where they would get a first-round bye while a loss puts them in danger of dropping to third and having to play on Wild Card Weekend. They'll begin their postseason push in the divisional round the weekend of January 13 where, if things stand as they now do, they'll host Carolina or New Orleans. When the season started, they thought that they'd have Sam Bradford at the helm and had playoff hopes with that.

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The Bears' six first-half rushing attempts netted a total of minus-1 yard. Without Carson Wentz, Philadelphia faces a lot of uncertainty in the postseason.

It remains to be seen if front-office changes come - some head-coaching candidates may prefer to work with a different general manager - but the Bears will be interested in talking to some of the established offensive coaches.

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Predicting what the Minnesota Vikings have accomplished this season would have been next to impossible. Overall, the line performed well a week after also losing left guard Nick Easton for the season to an ankle injury. The Vikings quickly marched down the field on an eight-play drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown for Latavius Murray. But while the Vikings could still lean on a running game that churned out 147 yards on 36 attempts, the Bears had no such success. From there, Mitchell Trubisky fired thee straight incompletions, and on fourth down, Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes broke up a touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman with a nice play.

Two ingredients that help win championships are officially on the Vikings' side: a first-round bye and a dominating defense.

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The Bears rank in the top 10 against the pass and all three of their cornerbacks rate in the top 30 by Pro Football Focus and Adrian Amos is the No. 2 rated safety in the NFL (behind Harrison Smith). But the Bears were overmatched by a dominant Minnesota team in every other phase. Berger started all 16 games there for the Vikings during the 2015 season. Tomorrow, they move forward with what's in store for the playoffs.

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