The Chicago Bears need to continue to improve in the trenches
Both the offensive and defensive line have dramatically improved their play over the past couple of weeks, but if the Bears look to earn their first divisional win since week four of 2021, dominance in the trenches will be paramount throughout the entire game.
Offensively, the front five have recently done a better job of protecting Fields in the pocket, although there is still a lot of room for improvement. Against Washington, the Bears allowed just three sacks, tying a season-low mark, but the unit remains in the bottom four of the league in terms of sacks allowed. Against one of the league's best pass rushers Danielle Hunter, it will be incredibly important to help the offensive tackles, especially rookie Darnell Wright, who will likely be targetted by the veteran edge player on passing downs.
Outside of improving in the passing game, the offensive line has helped the rushing attack come along as of late with back-to-back 170-yard outings versus the Denver Broncos and the Commanders. Without the team's top two running backs, producing good lanes and generating yards before contact will be essential for the team's reserve backs to find success on the ground.
On the defensive side of the line, the front four has done a better job recently at generating pressure for the opposing quarterback, and Minnesota provides a good opportunity to continue to improve as a unit. The Vikings are middle of the pack in terms of sacks allowed with about 2.6 per game, but rank in the bottom four of the league in terms of total rush yards.
Without a great rushing threat, the Bears' defense should be in a position to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. The unit is coming off their best performance of the year, logging five sacks in Washington, and should be able to continue their momentum as a unit against Minnesota.
In any game, establishing yourself on both sides of the line of scrimmage is essential, but against a division rival, it is even more important. Winning in the trenches will help both units execute to their fullest abilities, and with injuries on the offense and players returning from injury on defense, the team will need to rely heavily on the big men up front.