Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-5)
Sun., December 30, 1:00 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Bears-Vikings:
1. When the Bears hosted the Vikings in Week 11, Chicago won 25-20 as a three-point favorite. It was the Bears' fourth straight win and cover. With its previous three victories coming against weak opponents (the Jets, Bills and Lions will all finish the season under .500), Chicago made a statement by knocking off a division foe in a game that had major implications in the NFC North standings. Having now wrapped up their first division title since 2010 secured, the Bears will travel to Minnesota to face a Vikings team that is trying to clinch an NFC Wild Card spot. In the Week 11 matchup, the key to Chicago's success was its defense. Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson returned an interception for a touchdown, and Chicago limited the Vikings to just 22 rushing yards on 14 carries. Chicago has stayed hot since, going 4-1 straight up and against the spread.
2. While the Vikings have held the edge straight up in this rivalry recently, the Bears have gotten the best of Minnesota against the spread. In the last five meetings between these teams, the Bears are 2-3 straight up but 4-1 ATS. The Vikings, however, have performed well as home favorites. The team is 22-8-1 against the spread when laying points in Minnesota since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach prior to the 2014 season. The Vikes' 5-2 record against the spread at home this season is tied for fourth-best in the NFL.
3. The Bears would need a victory and they would also need to get help elsewhere in order to improve their current No. 3 seeding to the No. 2 spot and secure a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. That help would need to come in the form of a San Francisco road win against the Rams, which is an unlikely scenario with Los Angeles favored by more than a touchdown. Both games kick off at 4:25 p.m. EST, and if the Rams are comfortably ahead at halftime, the possibility exists that Chicago could opt to rest some of its starters in the second half. (Jackson is one player who will likely sit the entire game after being held out of this past Sunday’s win in San Francisco with a sprained ankle he suffered the prior week.) It’s also worth noting that the Bears’ most likely first-round playoff opponent would be the Vikings. It’s therefore possible that Chicago holds back a portion of its gameplan in an effort to avoid exposing to Minnesota some of what it hopes to accomplish in early January once the stakes are raised.
Pick: Minnesota -5
Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)