Minnesota Vikings (5-1 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (1-6 SU, 1-6 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Monday, October 31, 2016 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Soldier Field
TV: ESPN, DTV: 709
by Chad Holloway, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN -5.5/CHI +5.5
Over/Under Total: 41
Two big things happened last week in the NFC North. First, quarterback Brian Hoyer broke his arm in the Bears 10-26 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Second, the Minnesota Vikings, who were the last undefeated team in the league, were run over by the Philadelphia Eagles and lost 10-21. This week, the Bears and Vikings will meet for a division matchup with the former welcoming back an old face.
After five weeks injured on the sideline, Jay Cutler will return to the field. Obviously it couldnt come at a better time given the injury to Hoyer, who probably would have remained the starter if not for his broken arm. Cutler started the first two games of the season during which he amassed a 75.7 passer rating, which isnt great. Plus, hes returning to a depleted offensive line both right guard Kyle Long and Josh Sitton are suffering from a pectoral muscle strain and ankle injury respectively which doesnt bode well for his success.
Entering Week 8, the Bears have the 17th-ranked offense in the league averaging 348.6 total yards per game (YPG) and 15.9 points per game (PPG). Their passing game is 11th averaging 260.7 YPG, while their rushing game is 25th averaging 87.9 YPG. Defensively, the Bears are 12th in the NFL holding opponents to an average of 350.4 total YPG (243.4 passing YPG & 107 rushing YPG) and 24.1 passing PPG.
As for the Vikings, theyre winning games because of their defense, which is the best in the league holding opponents to an average of just 279.5 total YPG (197.8 passing YPG & 81.7 rushing YPG) and 14 PPG. Those are some staunch numbers, the kind capable of winning championships.
Unfortunately, the Vikings dont have a great offense to compliment it, which isnt a surprise given QB Teddy Bridgewater and RB Adrian Peterson were both lost for the season earlier in the year. The Vikings offense, which averages 299.2 total YPG and 21.5 PPG, is second to last in the NFL. Their rushing game, which averages 74.3 YPG, is also 31st in the league, while their passing game is a tad bit better averaging 224.8 YPG, good for 26th.
Chad Holloway’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Vikings lead the all-time series 57-51-2, which includes winning the last three matchups. I like the Vikings to make it four in a row come Monday. The fact of the matter is their defense is just too good for a depleted Bears offense to overcome. All facets of the Bears offense will struggle, and I dont expect Cutler to shine in his return. If I were a betting man, Id take the Vikings to cover the spread, but would go with the under as I think itll be a low-scoring affair.
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