December 17, 2018 / 11:57 PM / a month ago

Simplified offense energizes Vikings

Dec 16, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears: A division title in hand doesn’t mean Bears head coach Matt Nagy is ready to back off the accelerator. The Bears could still be as low as the No. 4 seed in the NFC depending on the results of the final two games. “Right now, we’ve got to win,” Nagy said Monday. Winning could come with its challenges as linebacker Aaron Lynch (elbow) and safety Eddie Jackson (ankle) are down with injuries. Nagy said the team is hopeful neither injury is season-ending, but there are no expectations yet for their Week 16 status.

Detroit Lions: Players are not using the term spoiler, but the Lions are geared up for Minnesota — a division opponent that whipped Detroit 24-9 and sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford 10 times last month. “If you love to play this game, every time you go out there is another opportunity to do the best you can,” linebacker Christian Jones said. “We still have a lot to play for. We all want to finish strong.” Offensive tackle Taylor Decker said the Lions want to win to fight through “growing pains” and establish an identity moving forward.

Green Bay Packers: Outside linebacker Clay Matthews said the Packers will keep fighting despite falling out of playoff contention with Sunday’s loss at Chicago. “I don’t think anybody anticipated having a losing season. It is what it is,” Matthews said. “We’re that close to having this whole thing flipped, but that’s all you can say in hindsight. We just haven’t done enough. We haven’t made those few plays that usually turn the game in our favor.”

Minnesota Vikings: Simplifying the offense was a goal of head coach Mike Zimmer’s when he made a change at offensive coordinator last week, elevating quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski to the play-calling role. Zimmer liked the result Sunday — 220 rushing yards and 41 points in a win over the Dolphins — but said not to oversell what happened in the build up to Week 14. “We ran like one play 10 times but with 10 different variations, so sometimes that’s what it is too,” Zimmer said Monday. “You format it differently and you get them in different looks so they can’t key on one thing, but you’re basically running the same play.”

—Field Level Media

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