Minnesota Vikings (4-2 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Sunday, November 1, 2015, 1:00 pm EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV: FOX, DirecTV 706
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN -1/CHI +1
Over/Under Total: 42
Longtime rivals in the NFC North will face off for the first time this season when the Minnesota Vikings travel to Soldier Field in the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bears in an early Sunday game on the Fox Network.
The Vikings continue to improve and make strides as they grow behind a strong, young defense and second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Minnesota swept the season series from the division rival Detroit Lions last weekend with a, 28-19, victory on the road behind a defense that sacked Matthew Stafford seven times and Bridgewater who threw for 300 yards and two scores and protected the football. Following that recipe, the Vikings are now two games above .500 and if the playoffs started today would be in the NFC playoff picture.
Chicago will be entering the game on Sunday fresh off their bye week. Ironically, prior to the bye it was the Bears that went into Ford Field in Detroit for a tussle with the Lions, but in the Bears case it ended in disappointing fashion with a, 37-34, overtime loss to the Lions. With a 2-4 record, only Bears fans will remember that the offense went 3-for-8 in the red zone in that Lions game, a game they shoulda, coulda, woulda if they could only stop getting in their own way.
Lets hope the game on the field is as interesting as the point spread and line movement this game has already seen after just a few days on the board. Late on Sunday sportsbooks released the first point spread on this game with Minnesota as 2.5-point favorites, and the number hung around for a little less than 24 hours before it dropped like a rock as the sharp money rolled in on the Bears as home dogs. Currently most sportbooks are down to showing the Vikings as 1-point favorites, but theres almost as many books showing this game as a pick em even though 67 percent of the public money is on the Vikings.
The over/under total opened at 41.5 or 42 at most sportsbooks and hasnt yet seen as much steam or line movement as the point spread.
The nice thing about handicapping week eight action is that most teams have had six or seven weeks of play on the field there really arent any secrets anymore as to how good teams are compared to how the could be after just a few weeks. What you see is what you get, so in this case we should get to see a good divisional matchup of teams that need their QBs to protect the football. Both teams would be smart to use the running game to move the chains, not only because Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte are hands down the best players on their respective teams but because both defenses are at their weakest against the run (Minn. allowing 106 ypg -13th; Chi. 124 ypg 25th).
Since this is a divisional game, we have plenty of recent history to mine for betting trends and opportunities to wager on the team with the best head-to-head streaks. On the field, these teams have split the two-game series for the past three years (back to 2012) with the home team winning in all six games. That same stretch shows that both teams are also a juice-sucking 3-3 ATS. However, it should be noted that prior to 2012, the Bears dominated the series going 5-0 both SU and ATS. Also, the Vikings just dont cover at Soldier Field, going 1-6 ATS in their last seven visits to Chicago.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The value on taking the home dog has evaporated, and I doubt we will see the number climb back up much before kickoff. With little value on a side bet now after the early steam, Id take a long look at the total. Historically this game is an under kinda game (under is 6-1 in L7), a ground-n-pound NFC North battle of teams that know each other too well. Normally Id agree, but the Bears defense isnt equipped to stop Peterson as well as the past. Plus Cutler, Forte and Alshon Jeffery have all had two weeks to heal and all of them should be at or near full strength for this game. Im taking the over of 42, hoping for a 28-20 or 24-21 score at the minimum.
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