The Minnesota Vikings visit Soldier Field this Sunday night where they will take on the Chicago Bears. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:20 pm central, which it was moved to after the Bears asserted themselves as the team to beat in the NFC North. This could be the game that decides who wins the NFC North, which both teams are fighting for the division crown at this point. The Bears are in first place in the division with a 6-3 record. The Vikings sit at 5-3-1, putting them a game and a half behind Chicago. A loss for them would make winning the division very difficult, as they would likely have to not only beat the Bears later in the year, but also rely on the Packers and even the Lions to help them out.
The Vikings had a bye last week, but in their last game in week 9 they played the Lions. To put it simply, they dominated in their 24-9 win. Cousins had a relatively quiet game, going 18 for 22 for 164 yards and one touchdown. Several of his completions were tremendous catches from his talented receivers. His one touchdown was a 2 yard pass for Adam Thielen, who also had a relatively quiet game for Minnesota. He caught 4 passes for 22 yards and the touchdown. Overall Minnesota looked a little out of sorts on offense for a team that had previously established themselves as a good passing team with electric young running backs. The story for the Vikings was their pass rush, taking advantage of Stafford’s discomfort in the pocket and sacking him 10 times, a franchise record.
The Bears also played against the Lions inn their last game, this time in week 10. Chicago won that one at home 34-22. Their offensive game was very different from that of the Vikings, as Quarterback Mitch Trubisky seemed to find an open receiver whenever he wanted. Trubisky was 23 for 30 for 355 yards and 3 touchdowns. Trubisky shared the ball with many receivers, but Allen Robinson and rookie Anthony Miller out of Memphis capitalized most. For example: Driving in Lions’ territory, Trubisky got Miller the ball near the right sideline. Miller then broke a (Weak attempt at a) tackle and scooted 20 yards into the endzone effectively untouched. Miller had 5 receptions for 122 yards and 1 touchdown. Robinson had 6 receptions for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Chicago Bears are -3.
The Vikings have looked good on offense this season. They rank 7th in the league in passing yards, with 298.3 yards per game. On the rush, they are 28th in the league with 91.7 yards per game, despite relatively good play from running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. The defense has also looked good this year (Especially against the Lions), especially against the rush (Similar to the Bears). They rank 3rd against the rush, allowing just 88.89 yards per game. Against the pass, they rank 12th, allowing 233.33 yards per game.
The Bears offense has been good, not great, this year. Passing the ball, they rank just 21st in the league, averaging 256 yards per game. Rushing the ball, they average 12th in the league at 120.1 yards per game.
Prediction – Bears Cover
On paper, the Vikings look like the better team. However, the Bears have a ton of momentum after pummeling the Lions (The game should have been 42-22, but kicker Cody Parkey hit the upright 4 times, leaving 8 points on the board). So, it looks like a wash to me. Both teams have physical, hard hitting defenses that stop the run and rush the passer. However, the way that Kirk Cousins looked against Detroit concerned me. He did not look sharp, and he threw a terrible interception on a promising drive. Meanwhile, Trubisky hasn’t been turning the ball over, save for one pick against the Bills, lately. I think that the team who wins this game will be the team that can effectively run the ball. I believe that the Bears will be able to run the ball well enough that th Vikings will have to account for that in their defense, opening up big-play receivers for the Bears. Also, they will likely have to account for the running ability of Trubisky as well. Look for either Jordan Howard or Tarik Cohen to have an 80 or even 100 yard performance to help out their Quarterback. Bet on the Chicago Bears at -145.
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