Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears: Monday Night Football Preview

Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears: Monday Night Football Preview

The Minnesota Vikings will bid to keep their playoff dreams alive when they take on the Chicago Bears in the Windy City on Monday night. Can they leave Chicago with a vital win under their belts?

Game Details

Date: Monday, December 21, at 8.15pm EST

TV: ESPN

Location: Soldier Field

Weather: Cold, partly cloudy, with 10mph wind

Vikings Remain in the Hunt

The Vikings are still firmly in the hunt for a wild card place after beating the Steelers 36-28 in Week 11. That showdown took place on Thursday night, so Minnesota should be in excellent physical condition after enjoying a 10-day gap between games.

It was an impressive victory for the Vikings, led by running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns off 27 carries. Cook’s performance was all the more remarkable when you consider that he dislocated his shoulder just 11 days prior to the game, and he was not expected to feature. He set a franchise record with 153 rushing yards in the first half. The two-time Pro Bowler is now the NFL’s seventh-leading rusher, despite missing three games this season.

The win against Pittsburgh left Minnesota with a 6-7 straight up record for the season. It is currently the No. 8 seed in the NFC, leaving it just outside the playoff places, but it has an identical record to No. 7 seed Washington Football Team, so the Vikings still have a great chance of making it through to the postseason.

Bears Run Out of Steam

The Bears are now 4-9 for the season after suffering back-to-back defeats to the Cardinals and the Packers. There is no shame in losing to two elite teams, but it has killed off any faint hopes of a postseason campaign for the Bears.

The defense has been relatively solid, but the Chicago offense has simply failed to click this season. The Bears rank 29th in scoring, 31st for total yards and 32nd in passing. Justin Fields has not exactly been firing on all cylinders, but the lack of talent surrounding him in the offensive line and the receiving corps is the main issue. They are ninth in the league for rushing yards, but that has not been enough to save them.

Once upon a time, Chicago could fall back on its vaunted defensive unit, but injuries to Khalil Mack and Danny Trevathan have depleted it, and this is fast turning into a season to forget for Bears fans.

Head-to-Heads

This will be the first meeting between these fierce divisional rivals this season. Last year, the Vikings battled to a 19-13 win against the Bears at Soldier Field. That game marked QB Kirk Cousins’ first ever Monday Night Football victory.

However, the Bears gained sweet revenge by picking up a 33-27 win in Minnesota in Week 15. The Vikings lost their next game to the Saints, and they ended the season with a 7-9 record after beating Detroit in Week 17. The Bears went on to beat the Jags and clinch a place in the Wild Card Round, where they lost to the Saints.

The teams have now met 120 times over the years, and Minnesota leads the all-time series 61-57-2.

Team News

The Vikings have three players rated questionable for this game – OT Christian Darrisaw (ankle), LB Blake Lynch, and WR Adam Thielen (ankle). Linebackers Anthony Barr, Ryan Connelly and Eric Kendricks returned last weekend, along with cornerbacks Mackenzie Alexander and Bashaud Breeland.

The Bears have four players on the questionable list: CB Teez Tabor (illness), WR Marquise Goodwin (ribs), DT Akiem Hicks (ankle), and QB Andy Dalton (left hand).

Key Stats

·   The Minnesota Vikings are 7-6 ATS so far this season.

·   Minnesota has covered the spread once in four games in which it started as a 3.5-point favorite or greater this season.

·   The Minnesota offense ranks 11th in the league with 26.5 points per game.

·   The Vikings have averaged 390.5 yards per game this year, which is the third highest mark in the league.

·   Minnesota ranks 25th for points allowed per game (25.6) and 29th for yards allowed per game (381.5).

·   The Bears have gone 4-9 ATS this year.

·   Chicago is also 2-7 in games in which it started as a 3.5-point underdog or greater.

·   The Bears rack up 17.8 points per game and 302.5 yards per game, which is considerably short of the average that Minnesota allows.

·   The Bears are 2-4 ATS at home this season.

·   Eight out of 13 Vikings games have hit the over this season.

·   Just five out of 13 Bears games have gone over the total points line.

Betting Odds

The sportsbooks make Minnesota the 3.5-point favorite to win this game at Soldier Field. They are pretty consistent with their lines on this game, so there are no real discrepancies to exploit. Unibet is offering -109 on the Bears covering and -112 on the Vikings, so that you can get a tiny bit more value on Chicago there, but most major sportsbooks have -110 on either side of the bet.

The total points line has been set at 44 points, and no sportsbooks have drifted away from this consensus line, apart from BetMGM, which stands out by offering -110 on over 44.5 and -110 on under 44.5. BetMGM is therefore the best option for “under” bettors. FanDuel has +100 on over 44.5 points if you are looking for a little more value.

Picks

Over 44 points looks like a tempting option in this game. The Vikings offense has been among the best in the NFL this season, while the Chicago defense has struggled to live up to its billing. The Vikings defense ranks 31st in opponent yards per carry, so Chicago should have a lot of joy on the ground in this game, and it could be a high-scoring affair.

It is hard to trust either of these teams to cover the spread. Kirk Cousins has never really been made for Monday Night Football, but he should be able to lead his team to another important win in this game. Whether they can win by more than 3.5 points is another matter entirely. Yet they should be a lot more motivated than the Bears for this game, so betting on Minnesota -3.5 could be an astute play.

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