NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are one of the five most popular teams in the NFL from a TV ratings perspective, but they haven't been either very good or very interesting for a while. So, while they are usually guaranteed a Monday night slot regardless, they haven't had a home Sunday night game since 2012.
That changes this Sunday when they host the Minnesota Vikings in a crucial NFC North matchup. This game originally was a 1 p.m. ET kickoff but was flexed into prime-time with NBC apparently not very interested in Steelers-Jaguars, which was flexed out.
It's in the middle of a massively important three-game division stretch in 12 days for Chicago, which started out extremely well on Sunday in Week 10. The Bears have what must be the quickest turnaround in NFL history in Week 12 as they play at Detroit with a 12:30 ET start on Thanksgiving. If Chicago were to manage to go 3-0 in that stretch, well, I believe you can all but hand the NFC North to the Bears barring major injury. They are the +130 favorites at Bovada .
Minnesota is +140 to repeat as division champion. It's a big one for the Vikings, too, because they are refreshed and recharged from a bye week. Their schedule is really tough the three weeks after this: home to Green Bay next Sunday night, at New England and at Seattle (Monday). Get through this four-game set at 2-2 or better and the Vikes are in great shape because they seem likely to win their final three (vs. Dolphins, at Lions, vs. Bears).
Green Bay was +333 at Bovada to win the division entering Thursday night's game at Seattle, which obviously the front offices of the Bears and Vikings are hoping the Seahawks won.
Vikings at Bears Betting Story Lines
Not many quarterbacks in the league seem to split former scouts, GMs, talking heads, etc., more than Chicago's second-year Mitchell Trubisky. He was pretty terrible last year, but he also had terrible coaching and equally bad receivers. Now, Trubisky has an excellent offensive play-caller in first-year head coach Matt Nagy, plus new pass-catching additions in WRs Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller (rookie) and tight end Trey Burton.
Entering Week 11, Trubisky ranks 10th in QB rating at 101.6 (ahead of Aaron Rodgers, it should be noted) and ninth in TD passes (ahead of guys like Tom Brady, Rodgers, Cam Newton and Kirk Cousins). He's also one of the best running QBs in the league with 320 yards and three scores. Only Newton has more of either. Not sure why scouts don't like the guy. Is he still a bit inaccurate? Sure, but he's also only played in 21 NFL games and started just one season at North Carolina. Trubisky comes off arguably his best game, completing 76.7 percent for a career-high 355 yards and three scores while rushing for a TD in a 34-22 home win over the Lions.
Detroit, though, is terrible against the pass. The Vikings are fifth in total defense, 11th in points allowed (22.7) and 12th against the pass. That unit has really improved after a slow start, a big reason why the Vikings have won four of five. Defensive end Danielle Hunter ranks second in the NFL with 11.5 sacks.
It now looks brilliant that the Vikings said goodbye to Case Keenum, who hasn't been very good in Denver, and signed Cousins to a big deal. He has completed 259 of 363 passes (71.3 percent) for 2,685 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions good for a career-high rating of 102.2. Adam Thielen opened the season with a record eight straight 100-yard games and is tied for the league lead in receptions (78), third in yards (947) and fifth in TDs (seven).
Minnesota got off to a slow start on the ground, too, but that's largely because Dalvin Cook was hurt. He's back now, and the Vikings had 128 yards on just 23 carries in their 24-9 win over the Lions before the bye. The Vikes have run for an average of 114.6 yards per game over the past five games. Chicago's defense ranks fourth in yards allowed per game (319.6) and is tied for fourth in points allowed per game (19.4). That unit is second in the league with 24 takeaways and first with 16 picks. A big part of that is the pass-rush led by Khalil Mack. Chicago is fifth in the league with 30 sacks and probably would be first if Mack didn't miss two games. He's healthy now.
Vikings at Bears Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Chicago is a 2.5-point favorite (-115) with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, the Bears are -140 and Vikings +120. On the alternate lines, the Bears are -3 (+110) and -2 (-120). Minnesota is 5-3-1 against the spread (3-1 on road) and 4-5 "over/under" (3-1 on road). Chicago is 6-3 ATS (2-2 on road) and 6-3 O/U (3-1 on road).
The Vikings are 2-7 ATS in their past nine after a bye and 1-5 ATS in their previous six vs. teams with a winning record. The Bears are 6-0-1 ATS in their past seven at home vs. teams with a winning road record. They are 5-1 ATS in their past six vs. the NFC. The under is 21-7 in Minnesota's previous 28 vs. the NFC North. It's 4-0 in the past four meetings in Chicago. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Vikings at Bears Betting Prediction
Hard to truly know what either team is since neither has beaten a team that had a winning record entering Week 10. The Bears could have beaten the Patriots and have largely spanked the bad teams on their schedule, which is a good sign. The Vikings gave the Rams all they could handle in L.A. and won in Philadelphia but also lost at home to Buffalo.
Minnesota has won three straight in the series, but this Bears team is leaps and bounds better. I like the total - under - better than the side but take Chicago at -2.5.
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