Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Pick – Monday Night Football

Chicago Bears (5-8) +10, 43.5 O/U at Minnesota Vikings (7-6) -10,
43.5 O/U, Metrodome, 8:30 PM Eastern, Monday

by Badger of

Two NFC North rivals clash when the Chicago Bears travel to take on
the Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome on Monday Night Football. The
game features a little role reversal too, as its the Vikings who
will be trying to hold onto their playoff position, while the Bears
will be just playing out the rest of the season.

If the playoffs started today it would be the Vikings, at 7-6, and
not the Bears who would be sitting in the final NFC wild card spot.
Minnesota is on a four-game winning streak that has vaulted them into
the thick of the playoff chase, with their last victory a 27-7
decision over San Francisco last Sunday.

The Bears are going in the other direction fast in a season that can
only be described as a disappointment, just one year removed from
being the NFCs representative in the Super Bowl. Three weeks ago
they seemed to salvage their season with a huge comeback win over
Denver (37-34). But since then they have lost to the Giants (21-16)
and the Redskins (24-16) and appear to have more questions than
answers at the moment.

Oddsmakers opened this game with the Vikings as a 10-point favorite,
with an over/under total of 43.5.

Minnesota is led by the likely rookie of the year on offense, running
back Adrian Peterson. Peterson returned to action two weeks ago and
is still nursing his sore knee, but the runner from Oklahoma has
already eclipsed the 1,200-yard mark and has scored 11 touchdowns.
Because of Peterson the Vikings are 1st in the NFL at rushing
averaging 172.2 yards per game. Thats a good thing, because the
Vikings are 31st in passing (164.1ypg) and 11th in scoring with a
23.5 points per game average.

The Bears offense, not a juggernaut of a unit to begin with, is
reeling with the loss of quarterback Rex Grossman for the season
(knee). Brian Griese has played well a few games and bad a few games
in Grossmans absence, so theres even speculation that third-
stringer Kyle Orton might get some snaps in the final weeks. Running
back Cedric Benson is out as well, so needless to say the Bears are
nothing like the unit that is 22nd overall in total yards (305.2 ypg)
and 20th in points per game at 19.5.

The Vikings resurgence in the NFC playoff picture has been keyed by
their defense. Minnesota returned three interceptions for touchdowns
versus the New York Giants three weeks ago, and ran another one back
last week in San Francisco. On the year the Vikings are extreme
opposites ranked 1st versus the run (70.4 yards allowed) but ranked
dead last versus the pass (273.8 ypg). They have done a decent job of
limiting the damage though, as their 18.8 points per game average is
8th in the NFL.

How far has the once mighty Chicago defense fallen? Consider this,
the Bears are 29th overall in yards allowed, at over 350 per game
(355.1). The unit is no longer tough against the run (26th -123.6
ypg), so its no surprise that they are getting scored on at a 22.8
points per game pace (19th). The wear of having to carry such a weak
offense is starting to show, and the direct result is their 5-8 season.

If it weren’t for the Bears return man, Devin Hester (6 TDs), the
Bears might have no offense at all. With the state of the Bears team
now, if Minnesota even thinks about kicking the ball to Hester coach
Brad Childress should be fired on the spot.

Minnesota won and covered in the previous meeting between these
teams, 34-31, in Chicago in mid-October. The Vikings are 7-4 ATS for
the season, but are a white-hot 4-0 ATS during the winning streak.
The Vikings also have a solid recent history versus teams in the NFC
North, as the are 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 games in the division.

Chicago is a meager 4-9 ATS for the season and has covered in just
one of their past four games. A betting trend that looks good is
their 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games in week 15, but youre reaching
for something that may not be relevant if youre using that one to
lay a wager for the Bears.

Another betting trend to watch is the under, which is 7-1 in
Minnesotas last 8 games on Monday Night Football. That goes against
a bunch of trends towards the over (over 3-0-1 in last 4 head-to-
head; over is 3-1 in Chicagos last 4 games; over is 3-1 in
Minnesotas last 4 games).

Most online sportsbooks have kept the numbers at Minnesota -10 and a 43.5
total to start the week, but thats more likely a sign that bettors
are waiting to see who will be playing quarterback for the Bears.
Expect the line to move once that announcement comes later in the week.

Badgers Pick: What is with the Monday Night Football schedule this
year? Can we get a game worth betting on one of these weeks? That
said, I’m leaning toward the under in this game. Chicago will stack
the box and make the Vikings beat them some other way then via the
run. Plus, the Bears have revenge going in because Peterson
embarrassed them last time to the tune of 224 yards and 3 TD’s. The
Bears will struggle to run and pass, making this game a snoozer into
the late quarters. Go with the under and then go to bed, you can get
the score in the morning.