Minnesota Vikings (11-3 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (5-9 SU,
4-10 ATS), NFL Week 16, 8:30 p.m. EST, Monday Night Football, December 28, 2009, Soldier Field,
Chicago, Ill., TV: ESPN
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Vikings -7/Bears +7
The Minnesota Vikings and Brett Favre will be looking for redemption
in the national spotlight when they travel to the Windy City to play
their NFC North rival Chicago Bears at Soldier Field for Week 16 Monday Night Football.
The Vikings are hoping to turn things around in this game,
as their last 2 big nationally televised games ended in embarrassing fashion with two lopsided losses to Arizona and last
week against the Carolina Panthers, 26-7. The Vikings offensive line
failed to show up on Sunday, allowing Julius Peppers and the Panthers
defensive line to play pinball with Favre in the pocket and register
four sacks and numerous knockdown and pressures.
Adrian Peterson was also held in check, again, rushing for only 35
yards on 12 carries to drop him below the 3-yards per carry average
during the Vikings mini fade at the end of the season. The only good
news for the Vikings last Sunday was that they clinched the NFC North
title for a second straight year when the Steelers stole a late
victory away from the Packers.
But as embarrassing as the Vikings have played in primetime the last few weeks, at least theyre not the Bears.
Quarterback Jay Cutler threw three more interceptions to run his
league-leading total to 25, and the Bears also coughed up two fumbles
in a 31-7 early Christmas present to the Baltimore Ravens last week.
Theres simply no way to sugarcoat the Bears season in 2009, as so
many players on this team seem to have packed it in already and they
might as well just reserve their tee times for the offseason right now.
The early line out of Las Vegas lists the Vikings as a full touchdown
7-point favorite on the road. There has been little to no line
movement either, as bettors are either waiting to see if Favre rests
a little to get ready for the playoffs, or if the Bears decide to
just call off the rest of the season and put their faithful fans out
of their misery.
The over/under total opened at 42 and has dropped a full point down to 41 at a majority of the offshore sportsbooks on the Web. The
frigid Chicago weather may have something to do with the total moving
down, since the forecast for Sunday calls for strong winds (go
figure), temps in the low 20s and a chance of snow.
The best reason to watch this game, as far as the offense goes, is to
see how well the Vikings and Favre handle the cold conditions
outside. Even though his silly Nike television commercial shows
Peterson bowling over defenders in snowy, cold conditions, theres no
hiding the fact that A.P. plays in a dome (Dah, Nike! Good research
you knobs!) and is clearly a better back in that ideal setting.
Plus, Favre will be looking to redeem himself as a quarterback that
can handle the cold too. In his last visit to Soldier Field (as a
Packer in December of 2007), Favre threw two interceptions and
dropped four fumbles in the same windy, cold conditions that he will
face Sunday. He didnt fare too well a few games later that season in
the NFC Championship game either, looking really cold and wishing he
was back in Mississippi after throwing the game-ending interception
that gave the New York Giants a gift-wrapped trip to the Super Bowl.
With their playoff position sealed, I dont expect the Vikings to do
too much on offense other than hand it off to Adrian Peterson 30 times.
Favre will probably start to keep his record alive, but dont expect
him to finish the game.
Another reason to watch this game will be to see if Cutler can look any worse than he has already this season. Granted, he is on an
island with little to no talent around him, especially on the
offensive line, but he hit a new low last week with a 7.2 QB rating
in the loss to the Ravens (I think you get 10 points just if you put
your uniform on correctly).
The Bears defense might not be able to stop the Vikings offense even
if they do go to a vanilla game plan, as they added another body to
the walking wounded unit when end Adewale Ogunleye broke his leg last
Minnesotas defense did not look like a championship-type unit last
week either, giving up 299 passing yards and three touchdowns to a
journeyman quarterback (Carolinas Matt Moore) making just his third
Minnesota has won four of the last five head-to-head meetings,
including a 36-10 victory in the Metrodome back in late November. The
Bears do play well at home in this rivalry though, as they won last
year at Soldier Field, 48-41, and have won five of the last six
meetings in Chicago both straight up (5-1 SU) and against the spread
(5-1 ATS). In fact, the home team is a solid 8-2 ATS in the last 10
meetings, so home cooking does matter in the NFC North.
The under also shows a solid betting trend, since its 4-1 in the
Bears last five home games, 4-1 in their last five December games and
5-0 in their last five games against the NFC. The under is also 6-0
in the Vikings last six games as a favorite, 5-0 in December and 5-0
in their last their last five games versus the NFC.
Badgers Pick: Without knowing whether or not the Vikings will be
playing all out, I just cant advocate picking a side against the
spread. The safest bet is the under, which has a solid trend and the
winter weather to back it up. Take the under of 41.