Chicago Bears (3-12 SU, 7-8 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (7-8 SU, 8-7 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday, January 1, 2017, 1:00 PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.
TV: Fox, DirecTV 711
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CHI +5/MIN -5
Over/Under Total: 41
The final week of the NFL’s regular season always produces some meaningless games, but even neither the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings are not going to the NFC playoffs this year, at least we have the drama of a NFC North “rivalry” game to try and ensure this meaningless game doesn’t turn unwatchable.
It’s actually been several weeks now that Chicago hasn’t had much to play for other than pride and paychecks, but they have been playing pretty well. They took the rival Green Bay Packers all the way to the final seconds two weeks ago, and gave Washington a decent game for a half before dropping a big one to the Redskins, 41-21.
Minnesota was alive in the NFC North title chase up until a week ago, but a, 38-25, loss at Green Bay sealed the deal and eliminated the Vikings from all playoff scenarios. The Vikings epic collapse losing eight of their last 10 games is now in the record books for 2016, but starting 2017 with a revenge win over the Bears (Chicago won first meeting Oct. 31 - 20-10).
Oddsmakers set the opening point spread for this game with Minnesota as 6.5-point favorites, and even though most of the early action on this one is mostly on the Vikings the spread has dropped the hook at a few sports books down to Minnesota minus -6.
The over/under total opened at 42.5 and hasn’t moved much at all early in the week.
In the first meeting between these two Bears running back Jordan Howard broke loose for 153 yards and a touchdown, including a 69-yard scamper that has been his longest run of the season. It was also one of the early games where the Vikings showed their major weakness along the offensive line, giving up five sacks to the Bears and causing big time problems for QB Sam Bradford that have remained for the rest of the regular season.
Minnesota had won three meetings in a row against the Bears prior to the week eight loss, including a 38-17 victory in Minneapolis last season. This will be the last game inside U.S. Bank Stadium for the season, a venue where the Vikings are only 4-3 in this season. It should be noted that Minnesota is 5-2 ATS at home this year.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I expect both teams to take a “what do we have to lose” approach to play calling for this game, so it won’t be as conservative as it would normally be in a week 17 contest. So that said, I’m expecting a little more offense than most people will be expecting. I’m taking the over of 42.5.
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