Minnesota Vikings (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date and Time: Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MINN +3/CHI -3
Over/Under Total: 47
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On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings come into Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears in an NFC North battle. The Vikings are 4-5 and a respectable 5-4 against-the-spread. They won 2 straight games before entering the bye week and come into this game well-rested and with some positive momentum. Thats more than you can say about the Bears, who have lost 3 in a row and 5 out of 6, including a titanic 55-14 loss to the Packers on Sunday night.
The Bears began the season 2-1, but it has gotten so bad that you couldnt be sure head coach Marc Trestman was going to make it to this Sunday. In their last two games, they have given up 106 points. Granted, those were road games against the Patriots and Packers, but the defense is in full-blown slapstick-mode at this point. Can they find something at home against the Vikings or are they too deep within a downward spiral to excavate themselves from it?
The Vikings have done well under the circumstances. After losing 5 out of 6, they appeared to be in a free-fall. Their best player Adrian Peterson was gone. Rookie Teddy Bridgewater was thrown to the lions with Matt Cassel out. But a stout defense has been of big help, as they are 4th against the pass and have also been running the ball well in Petersons absence.
Against the Redskins on Sunday, the Vikings got a late TD run from Matt Asiata to seal the win. Bridgewater threw for 268 yards and a touchdown and hasnt been doing too badly. In 6 games, he has gone without throwing an interception 4 times, though he has only thrown 3 touchdowns. But hes starting to get the taste of winning and thats what counts. With how bad they looked when losing 5 of 6, the last few weeks count for a lot.
The Vikings run-game continues to benefit from Jerick McKinnon stepping up in his increased role. The rookie is averaging 5 yards per run. With 6 TD runs, Asiata gets the tough yardage. Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright, and Cordarrelle Patterson arent setting the world aflame, but provide needed production in the passing game, which is ranked 29th in the NFL.
The Bears are really in a funk. Its getting ridiculous. Their defense has been hurt by injuries and inconsistent play. But QB Jay Cutler has been playing badly behind an offensive line thats been taking its share of lumps. Even with Matt Forte, the rushing attack has barely made a dent. With Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall (questionable), and TE Martellus Bennett in there, it should be a premier offense or close to it. And yet, somehow, theyre the 22nd ranked scoring offense. There is a lot of blame to spread around and it doesnt all fall on Cutlers shoulders, though he could certainly stand to use an upgrade in his play. That can also be said about a lot of guys on that sideline.
Perhaps an extra sense of urgency will kick in for Chicago. The coach is on the hot-seat and if Chicago were to lay an egg again this week, that would likely be a wrap. And some sense of professional pride, combined with playing at home after a rough two-game road stretch, could potentially kick in this week. And there is talent to work with, especially on the offensive side of the ball. But theyve managed to slide all the way to 3-6 without being able to will themselves into playing better, so why would they now? Still, at home and against the lesser likes of Minnesota, one shouldnt rule out the possibility that we will see a better Bears team this week.
When contrasting the teams offensively, it appears that Chicago has the far more-abundant firepower. But even bigger than that gap is the disparity is both teams spiritually. With Minnesota, the coaching is working, players are performing over their heads, and they are overcoming adversity while forming an identity. Conversely, Chicago is underachieving substantially, seems numb to any sense of urgency, and the coaches are obviously not getting through. They are crumbling in the face of adversity.
Its not that Chicago is simply losing. Not every team gets to win in this league. But youd be hard-pressed to find a time where a Chicago Bears team gave up 106 points in a two-game span. And those games sandwiched a bye week, which went over like a lead balloon. A 3-6 record doesnt seem so putrid, but its hard to remember a more inept Bears team than whats been seen in recent weeks. Its hard to get behind a team like that.
Again, the Bears could snap out of it and are at home. The Vikings have flashed some nice form, but are hardly invulnerable. And while its not terribly ground-breaking or innovative, one shouldnt make a habit of giving points on teams that are playing like the Bears in recent weeks. Im going with the Vikings.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Minnesota Vikings plus 3 points.