Chicago Bears (5-8 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (8-5 SU, 10-3 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: 12/20/15 1:00 PM ET
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
by Keith, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CHI +5.5/MIN -5.5
Over/Under Total: 43
The last game between these two divisional foes was settled by a field goal, the score was 23 to 20 in favor of the Vikings, so there is no surprise here that the book is opening the over/under at 43. Both teams are not keen to pass the ball and are a bit of a throwback in regards to the modern era of the NFL, regarding offensive style. Both Minnesota and Chicago aim to employ a ground and pound style of attack and respectively have two of the best rushers in the game at their service, Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte.
We are not going to take the angle that both Peterson or Forte are injury prone, this is simply a part and parcel of the job of a NFL running back. But it is worth mentioning that both teams will likely focus their defensive strategy on containing these respective players. Chicago is astoundingly 2nd in the league against the pass, which serves as bad news for Vikings signal caller Teddy Bridgewater and breakout star Stephan Diggs, who has emerged as Minnesotas primary deep threat and number one option at wide receiver. Conversely, a banged up Alshon Jeffrey and less than efficient Jay Cutler has allowed for Chicagos aerial assaults to flutter as well.
In this one, we simply like the angle of the rivalry game component that we often see in Bears/Vikings, Bears/Packers, Packers/Lions games. The NFC North used to be called the Black and Blue division for a reason, these teams all hate each other and the animosity transcends in to the cities involved themselves. Detroit, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago are all super competitive, we have seen it in the NBA with the Pistons, Bucks and Bulls. In the NHL with the Blackhawks and Red Wings and the MLB with the Twins, Tigers, White Sox, Cubs and Brewers. These teams love to despise each other and this is most evident on the field.
Chicago has an opportunity to complicate Minnesotas playoff run. Although the Bears are 5-8 on the season, they have a very slim and outside shot at a playoff berth if they win out and get help along the way. However, we are not playing on Chicagos playoff incentives, more so their pride and desire to wreck a rivals playoff hopes. While a loss for Minnesota will not abdicate any postseason aspirations, it will certainly put the clamps on them and add tremendous pressure to the final two games of the season. We are certain the Bears would revel in that opportunity and given the fact they have already pulled off an upset against hated foe Green Bay, this team knows it can play with the other constituents in their division regardless of wins and losses.
In fact, the Bears have not lost a NFC North divisional game by more than 8 points this year. In addition to their loss against Minnesota as mentioned was by a field goal, the Bears also lost by a field goal in overtime to Detroit. Revenge and vindication is certainly the engine behind this Chicago Bears club that will likely miss the post-season yet again in 2015.
In addition to the Bears motives, we have definitely noticed improvements in the Bears two game losing streak. In the last two games the Bears have averaged 25 points, previous to that the Bears failed to eclipse 20 points in the preceding four results. This is a testament to John Fox being able to revamp a once mundane and sputtering Bears offense. The emergence of Jeremy Langford at tail back has aided in the mileage accrued on Matt Forte and this team is far better than the records or line would indicate. Minnesota is also entering on a two game skid and they have lost 3 of their last 4, after starting off 7-2. This sign is all the more disconcerting for the Purple Crush and given the initial reaction to jump on the Vikings regardless, we see this as a potentially perilous endeavor. We like an overlooked and undervalued Chicago Bears team spotted a fair amount of points in a live and competitive rivalry series. We will take Chicago with the points.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Chicago Bears +5.5
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