Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (-2.5)
Sun. 11/18, 8:20 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Minnesota-Chicago:
1. The Bears aim for their fourth win in a row when they host the surging Vikings on Sunday night. Chicago has benefited from an easy schedule this season, as the Bears have yet to win a game against an opponent that currently has a win percentage of .500 or better. During its current win streak, Chicago has easily taken care of three opponents that have a combined 9-20 record (Jets, Bills and Lions) by a total score of 99 to 41. Sunday night represents a far higher level of competition against a 5-3-1 Minnesota team that in recent weeks has been playing its best football of the season. Since the start of October, the Vikings are 4-1, both straight up and against the spread, with the lone loss coming against the 9-1 Saints. Two of those Minnesota wins came away from home—23-21 as an underdog at Philly and a 20-point blowout at the New York Jets—which improved the team’s straight-up record to 8-3-1 over its past dozen road games.
2. The Vikings are the fresher team in this matchup having rested during a bye week last Sunday, while the Bears were playing for a fifth consecutive week after their Week 5 bye in early October. This is the point in the calendar during which Minnesota has thrived in recent years, as the Vikings are 13-3 against the spread since 2017 after the first month of the season, outscoring opponents by an average margin of 9.6 points over those 16 games. While the Bears are certainly an improved team as compared to recent years, the fact that the Vikings have won six of the past seven meetings, including three in a row by a lopsided combined score of 81 to 37, should not be ignored.
3. Minnesota's defense has been outstanding during the past month, especially against the pass. Since surrendering 456 passing yards to the Rams in Week 4, the Vikings have improved in each game since, limiting their past five opponents to 283, 208, 192, 164 and 143 passing yards. There’s a good chance that the Bears will also have trouble running the ball against a Minnesota front seven that ranks third in the league in rushing defense (88.9 yards allowed per game) and fourth in yards per carry allowed (3.6). In the past two games, Chicago has rushed for a meager 59 yards per game on 2.5 yards per carry. Last week it was 22 carries for 54 yards versus Detroit, the same unit against which Minnesota's ground game gained 128 yards on 23 carries (5.6 yards per carry) just one week prior. Although the Bears averaged 7.6 yards per play in large part because of several long gains against the Lions, Chicago is 0-8 (both straight up and against the spread) since the start of 2016 when coming off a game in which the team gained an average of at least 6.5 yards per play. Those eight games haven't been close, as the Bears have been outscored 32 to 16 on average.
Pick: Minnesota +2.5
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)