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Bears-Vikings: 5 Matchups To Watch

By Dan Durkin-

(CBS) With the postseason out of play for both teams, Sunday's Bears-Vikings game is a compulsory contest with a few lowly storylines. Who will finish last in the NFC North? Could the Vikings possibly go winless in the NFC North? Which team will improve or hurt their draft status?

All those questions will be determined soon.

Here are five matchups to follow during Sunday's game.

Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery vs. Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes -- The Bears' receiving corps was at full strength the last time these two teams met, and both Brandon Marshall and Jeffery took their turns working on Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson. With Marshall out, the Vikings will likely match up Rhodes exclusively on Jeffery, which will be a battle. Jeffery played his worst game of the season last week. Against Rhodes, he will face a similar long-armed athlete who isn't afraid to press and bail. Will Jeffery be able to shake off last week and win with his release off the line of scrimmage to quickly get into his routes?

Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson vs. Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson -- Robinson was targeted 15 times in their previous matchup, of which the Bears completed 11, with three going for touchdowns. The Bears wisely took advantage of the size differential that their receivers had against Robinson, who stands 5-foot-10. Wilson is bigger than Robinson but plays a much different style of game than Marshall or Jeffery, winning with quick feet opposed to size and leverage. If the Vikings don't match up Rhodes on Jeffery, look for the majority of Jay Cutler's targets to go to the right and target Robinson from his customary left cornerback position.

Bears left defensive end Davis Bass vs. Vikings right tackle Michael Harris -- With defensive end Willie Young lost for the season (Achilles), Bass has earned the right to be on the field for extra snaps. Harris replaced Phil Loadholt, who was lost for the season last month with a torn pectoral muscle. Harris has struggled to get movement in the run game and mirror in the pass game, so this is an opportunity to Bass to win single-block opportunities as the Vikings focus their attention to the Bears' interior pass rushers. Pass rusher is a big need for the Bears heading into next season, so this is an opportunity for Bass to show that he belongs as part of the rotation.

Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller vs. Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson -- The Vikings gambled on an athlete when they drafted Cordarelle Patterson, hoping he could evolve into their split end or "X" receiver, but he's struggled to do so. In turn, Johnson -- whom the Vikings signed off of the Browns' practice squad in September -- has taken over the split end job and has become one of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's favorite targets. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner worked with Johnson last year in Cleveland, and his familiarity with the system shows. Despite only playing in 11 games, Johnson leads the team in catches of 20-plus yards (nine) and his size and speed combination will be another test for Fuller, who has struggled down the stretch of his rookie season.

Bears linebacker Christian Jones vs. Vikings backs and receivers -- In the first matchup, the Vikings picked on weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs in both nickel and base packages, using their bootleg and play-action passes to create horizontal voids and simplified half-field reads for Bridgewater. With Jones playing the "Will" backer spot this week, he must read his keys and play backside contain as the Vikings will be certain to test his eye discipline and attempt to get him to be overaggressive to the ball-carrier and run crossing routes behind him.

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