Reporter NFC North
There’s no reason the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears starters need to take the field for their Week 18 matchup at Soldier Field. none Listen to me.
The Bears are, and have been, eliminated from the playoffs. The only thing left to play for was the pride and development of quarterback Justin Fields. I whispered this sentiment last week in this very column, while fully acknowledging that the Bears wouldn’t, but Fields needs to sit. There are no significant developments at this time.
He’s playing behind a slow offensive line, even though they looked as healthy as they had been in this past Sunday’s game. Teven Jenkins and Michael Schofield went down quickly, leaving the Bears struggling up front once again. Then Fields had seven sacks against the Lions, newly discovered and very young, in a pass rush. Fields has 15 sacks in the last three games. He’s been sacked 55 times this season, the most in the league, and in 27 games as a Chicago Bear, Fields has 91 sacks. Jay Cutler previously held the Bears’ single-season sack record with 52 in his first year in Chicago in 2009. Fields has now supplanted him.
Fields has already battled multiple injuries this season, most recently an AC joint injury in his non-throwing shoulder resulting from a tackle. With so much uncertainty ahead, Fields has simply had to do too much and it’s not worth it (and may not have been for weeks).
Developmentally, sure, you’d like to see him have more of a relationship with Chase Claypool, who was a midseason addition who should be here next year. Claypool already committed to working with Fields this offseason to get on the same page, and outside of Claypool the other receivers available to Fields are not guaranteed to be on the roster in 2023. Fields’ overall weapons are limited as they are. What good will reps and development do with a limited support cast?
Now, as for the Vikings, they still have seeds to play for. They are currently the top three seed in the NFC, but have no shot at the one seed and first round bye. That’s what matters. The two or three seeds could shake out in a number of ways depending on what happens this weekend, but is there really that much of a difference? I’d say not enough to risk a potential injury to quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Packers dismantle Vikings in Week 17
Nick Wright, Chris Broussard and Kevin Wildes discuss Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ Week 17 win over the rival Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings are on their third-string center, guard Chris Reed, who fumbled multiple times and had several miscommunications after Austin Schlottman went down against Green Bay on Sunday. Head coach Kevin O’Connell came out and said Schlottman’s injury is significant. Right tackle Brian O’Neill also suffered a calf injury during the game, which O’Connell also called “significant.” Garrett Bradbury is starting to practice again, but they’re still in wait-and-see mode, which pretty much rules him out for Week 18. Cousins miraculously only took two sacks against the Packers, but he didn’t get into much of a groove for the its lack of protection Even with Schlottman, Cousins had four catches against the Giants in Week 16 and a huge seven against the Colts in their miraculous overtime comeback in Week 15.
Cousins is doing too much when he should be resting, along with most of the other starters, as they prepare for their wild.–match cards with whoever you end up with.
Dan Campbell, Lions, happy to play meaningful football in January
No waiver for Dan Campbell’s Lions. That’s been evident thanks to a midseason turnaround that has Detroit sitting at 8-8 with legitimate postseason hopes after starting the campaign 1-6.
Their fate is not up to them, unlike the Packers who have the same record. Because of conference tiebreakers, the Lions also need the Seahawks to lose to the Rams. But if nothing else, this season has shown that Detroit is close and that they may have the intangibles to make a real run for years to come.
“I think it’s important to get used to being here because this is what you, this is where you want to be,” Campbell said Monday. “You want to be in the heart, and you always want to have the opportunity to enter or to have entered, and now it’s about sowing, everything that I talked about last night, and so it has to be here where And I think that it’s very important because to get to this point, now, especially for a young team in general … you look at the ebbs and flows of this season and different teams, including us, all the hype one way or all the lows in a way, and this team is canceled, and they’re back, this team is the best thing that’s happened in years, and now you look at the slide where they are, it’s natural. It’s been like this for years, and you just have to be consistent, run your business, go to work every week you have to have a little bit of luck you do but you have to be a resilient team and I think that’s I have to be part of your foundation , and that’s why we put this team together.”
Not only is it good experience for the Lions, even if the Seahawks win and knock off Detroit before their matchup with the Packers, the Lions could be the ones knocking off a postseason division opponent on national television.
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Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, adding the title of Super Bowl champion (and boat parade participant) to her resume. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.
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