With Mack leading the charge, the Bears' defense is now ranked third in the National Football League in total defense, but members of the Vikings offense will tell you that getting to practice against the likes of Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter is the best way to prepare for a guy like Mack. It's shouldn't be hard to keep that focus this week, as a victory over the Vikings (5-3-1) would put the Bears (6-3) in the driver's seat of the NFC North with six games remaining. They've got a few other really good players on defense. Trying to mitigate his impact is the key for the Vikings' offense, which they know won't be easy. A loss would drop the Bears into second place, a half-game behind the Vikings.
"Both defenses are very similar", he said.
He'll play a giant role Sunday night against the Vikings if the Bears reassert themselves as the class of the NFC North - and one of the league's great defenses.
"They haven't changed that much defensively except for Khalil Mack, which adds to some of those poor throws and pressure", Zimmer said, when asked what they have changed to get so many picks. The extra points he missed against Detroit were his first of the season.
"I think that carries over to the season".
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"That's the difference between last year and this year - that we're making more plays on the ball, forcing fumbles, getting interceptions", said cornerback Prince Amukamara, who is one of 10 Bears with at least one interception this year. In the past two games, Chicago has rushed for a meager 59 yards per game on 2.5 yards per carry. New head coach Mike Nagy has built an offensive machine that matches in tenacity the defense that former head coach John Fox built.
"If you're not enjoying the moment, then why are you playing?" he said.
We're expected to see some fireworks on Thursday night, but maybe less than we would've thought from the purple side. In his contract season, Callahan has played the best football of his life after signing a right-of-first-refusal restricted tender worth $1.9 million last spring. If an offense dedicates two or three blockers to him on certain downs, it opens things for other defenders to make an impact. But when you come to the division games, you play them boys twice and they're gonna be ready for you. And how much of a factor will the game's location of Soldier Field be in the outcome?
There's always a level of unpredictability when playing in the Windy City, but the Vikings are also playing at Chicago later this season than in the past two seasons, when they played on Monday Night Football in October.
One of the best individual matchups on Sunday's biggest stage in Week 11 pits a pair of former undrafted players from the football factories of Rice and Minnesota State.