Notebook: Bears, Vikings head into finale awaiting potential house cleanings

Amid the many constantly changing computations of playoff eligibility, there was a chance the Bears’ season finale against the Vikings could’ve been pushed to a later kickoff Sunday or even moved up as part of the NFL’s Saturday doubleheader.

But with the Bears long eliminated from the playoffs and the Vikings getting buried by the Packers, the league had no interest in showcasing their game.

The NFL always tried to get a make-or-break game for Sunday Night Football on the final day of the season, but it added the Saturday games this season and needed matchups where at least one of the teams had something at stake for the playoffs.

It found its gem with the Chargers visiting the Raiders in a game where the winner will clinch a postseason spot and locked that in for Sunday night.

The Saturday games will feature the Chiefs still vying for the No. 1 seed as they visit the Broncos, as well as the Cowboys facing the Eagles with both teams already in the playoffs but trying to improve their seeding.

Meanwhile, the Bears-Vikings game will play out with little drama other than waiting to see whether the two teams will embark on a massive overhaul as soon as it ends.

While it seems inevitable that the Bears will fire coach Matt Nagy after the game, it’s not as clear with general manager Ryan Pace. In Minnesota, general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer are in jeopardy as the team has gone 32-31-1 over the last four seasons.

Between those two teams flat-lining and the Lions’ perpetual ineptitude, the Packers improved to 15-2 in the division over the last three seasons by thumping the Vikings 37-10. It’s the best division record in the NFL over that span, and they finish against the Lions on Sunday.

Imperfect attendance

The Bears wrapped their home schedule with the 29-3 win over the Giants on Sunday and reported their official attendance — based on ticket sales, not actual people going to the games — at an average of 60,834. Soldier Field has the smallest capacity in the NFL at 61,500.

The Bears selling 98.9% of their tickets ranks 14th in the NFL, but again, that number is misleading. The official attendance for the Giants game was 59,594, for example, but the stadium appeared to be about two-thirds full.

In 2019, when they entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, the Bears reported standing-room only crowds at an average of 61,916 fans and ranked third in the NFL at 100.7% of capacity.

With the addition of the 17th game this season, all NFC teams played eight home games and nine on the road. The Bears will have nine home games next season.

Roster moves

The Bears finally emptied their reserve/COVID-19 list Monday by activating tight end Jesper Horsted and linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe.

At the height of their outbreak last month, the Bears at one point had over a dozen 14 players on the list. Their entire starting secondary was out when they hosted the Vikings in Week 15.

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