Minnesota Vikings face decimated Bears at Soldier Field Monday night

Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after a touchdown in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ((Photo by David Berding/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings are in Chicago to face the Bears on Monday Night Football at Soldier Field in what will be the fifth night game for Mike Zimmer against their NFC North rivals.

The Vikings are 6.5-point favorites as the Bears are decimated by having 14 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and others injured. Chicago’s entire starting secondary is unavailable to play Monday night, but defensive coordinator Sean Desai has cleared COVID-19 protocols and will coach against the Vikings.

The Bears have activated eight players from their practice squad ahead of the game to fill spots by players unable to go. Star receiver Allen Robinson II will also not play Monday due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Vikings have had their own COVID-19 issues, but have largely avoided the significant skill positions. No. 2 running back Alexander Mattison, and wide receiver/return specialist Dede Westbrook won’t play Monday night due to COVID-19 protocols. The Vikings have also been without senior defensive assistant Paul Guenther, and three strength coaches, due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Vikings will also be without starting defensive back Bashaud Breeland, who was released over the weekend after reportedly involved coaches and teammates. General Manager Rick Spielman had to step in before Breeland eventually was dismissed from the team. Breeland, who came to the Vikings as a free agent after two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, had two interceptions in 13 games this season.

The Vikings are without wide receiver Adam Thielen, who was declared inactive for Monday night's game after going through a short pregame workout to test his left ankle. Thielen didn't practice all week becuase of an ankle sprain that kept him out of last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thielen was injured after his first catch in Minnesota’s loss at Detroit.

Christian Darrisaw is set to return after missing two games, and Eric Kendricks should be available despite a low back injury.

Monday night at Soldier Field starts a four-game stretch for the Vikings to end the regular season where they likely have to finish no worse than 3-1 to feel confident about their chances to make the NFC Playoffs. The Vikings are currently in the No. 9 spot in the NFC, and the top seven teams make the playoffs.