The 1-4 Chicago Bears finally seem to have found some positive momentum at the quarter point of the season, and they will have a great opportunity this weekend to measure their strength within the NFC North with a home matchup against the 1-4 Minnesota Vikings.
After winning the division just a year ago, the Vikings themselves have a number of question marks surrounding both their week six contest and their future in general, beginning with superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who was placed on injury reserve following their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs a week ago. Still, the Vikings will roll out several talented players on Sunday, including Kirk Cousins, the league's third-leading passer, and Danielle Hunter, who is tied for the second most sacks in the NFL.
The Bears and the Vikings both have a good shot to win and inch closer to the .500 mark, but for Chicago to leave Soldier Field with a victory, it will be essential to accomplish the following three keys to success:
The Chicago Bears need to overcome injuries and get more skill players involved
The injury bug has not been kind to the Bears in the early part of the season, and this week's game looks to be no different. On Friday, Khalil Herbert and Equanimeous St. Brown were both placed on injured reserve, joining starting tackle Braxton Jones, who sustained an injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Additionally, running backs Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer will both miss this week due to a concussion and a hamstring injury, respectively. The Bears were able to bring back running back Darryton Evans, who spent time with the team last year and this past preseason, and he will look to join D'Onta Foreman in the backfield as the team's top options on the ground.
With fewer rushers available to carry the rock, the Bears offense will have to lean more on the passing game and Justin Fields' ability as a rusher. Currently, Fields is averaging less than 40 yards on the ground per game, and to compensate for a weaker rusher attack on Sunday, the Ohio State product may be forced to eclipse the 100-yard mark for the first time since New Year's Day.
Fields will also have to be efficient and productive in the passing game, especially when it comes to feeding different receivers. It is well documented how dominant D.J. Moore has been in his short Bears' career, but getting other talented pass-catchers involved should be the next step in this offense's revolution.
Receiver Darnell Mooney is experiencing the least productive start of his career to the tune of eight receptions for 104 yards but fortunately, the Tulane product has a strong resume versus the Vikings. In five games against Minnesota, Mooney has combined for a total of 293 yards and a touchdown on 25 receptions, as well as perhaps the best catch as a Bear.
Outside of getting Mooney more involved in the offense, Cole Kmet remains a reliable option, especially in the red zone. The more difficult aspect of the offensive approach may be finding that fourth receiver option now that Claypool has been traded away, and rookie Tyler Scott might be the next man up at the position.
A speedy option, Scott has seen just five targets through five games, converting three of them for catches combining for 20 total yards. In his final year at Cincinnati, Scott averaged five receptions for over 80 yards per game, so he is certainly capable of upping his production as a pro.