The Vikings already have been eliminated from the playoff race, and a lot of the questions they had coming into this year already have been answered.

The Vikings already have been eliminated from the playoff race, and a lot of the questions they had coming into this year already have been answered.

Will Brad Childress or Brett Favre be back next year? Nope. Will this team be headed in a completely different direction? Yep.

But don’t expect Monday night’s game to be a cakewalk for the Bears. Minnesota will not lay down, according to defensive lineman Jared Allen.

“I don’t want to be the guy, you know, the reason something bad happens, I refuse to be that guy,” Allen said. “Whether you’re playing for the playoffs or not, you can’t just shut it down. At the end of the day you’re responsible for what you put on tape.”

Bears prefer to clinch now

For obvious reasons, the Bears are hoping a win over Minnesota this week will mean the end to the NFC North title race.

“I’m just trying to win. If you win, everything else will take care of itself,” Bears nickelback D.J. Moore said. But he then added: “We want that part over as soon as we can. There’s no need to wait until the last week of the season to win the division.”

Most balanced team in NFL?

According to the numbers, the Bears are now the most balanced team in the NFL. They have run the ball 178 times and passed it 179 times over the past six weeks, and during most of that time, they were winning.

Five of the top 10 teams on that list, however, have losing records, and three others still are battling to make the playoffs.

Which begs the question: How important is having a balanced attack really?

Third downs reversed

Last week, the Bears converted 3- of-8 third-down chances, while New England was 12-of-19.

Back on Nov. 14, Chicago was 11-of-19 on that down while Minnesota was 1-of-9.

The Bears will need to convert on third down if they expect to steamroll the Vikings the way many believe they will.

Not everyone has counted this one as a Bears victory, however.

“You have to be careful with teams like this,” said Bears QB Jay Cutler, who has 10 TD passes and five interceptions all-time against the Vikings. “They want to start knocking off playoff teams and they still want to make a run for it.”

Who’ll play QB?

This week, the Bears have the familiar feeling of preparing for a team without knowing what quarterback they will face. The Vikings placed Tarvaris Jackson on IR on Thursday and signed Patrick Ramsey off the street. Brett Favre said he can’t feel his throwing hand, but still could sneak in and play. And rookie Joe Webb has a hamstring pull, but could probably go if called upon.

The Bears act like they don’t care.

“Who’s ever throwing the ball, it really doesn’t matter,” defensive tackle Tommie Harris said. “We just have to control our lanes and we just have to play our defense and execute.”

Jay Taft’s Quick Shots on the Chicago Bears appear Friday. He can be reached at
815-987-1384 or jtaft@rrstar.com.