The Chicago Bears host the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football this week.
Matt Youmans and William Hill preview the game and break down their best bets.
Minnesota Vikings (-3.5, 44) at Chicago Bears
Youmans: My dislike for this Bears team is focused on Matt Nagy, who is a poor play-caller and overall weak head coach, and Ryan Pace, a general manager who’s made countless clumsy moves. Chicago has the league’s worst rushing offense (82.3 yards per game) and fourth-worst scoring offense (19.8 ppg). A depleted offensive line is part of the problem. Nagy tried to lay the blame on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who was benched, yet the offense has been no better with Nick Foles as the starter. Nagy needs to surrender his authority to call plays because it has been obvious for a long time that he has no clue. In a 24-17 loss at Tennessee on Sunday, the Bears piled up 175 yards and 14 points in the final six minutes of garbage time. The Titans were yielding 128 rushing yards per game before the Bears rushed for 56 yards. Here’s another indictment of Nagy: Chicago is the league’s most penalized team.
I called the Bears phonies when they were 5-1, a start that included fourth-quarter comebacks from double-digit deficits at Detroit and Atlanta, and predicted they would be 5-4 when leaving Tennessee in Week 9. But in the NFL, pick your spots and look for line value, especially with home underdogs. If this game was played when the Bears were 5-1 and the Vikings were 1-5, Chicago probably would have been favored by 3 to 3.5 points.
The Bears are solid enough in run defense to limit what Minnesota does best, which is hand the ball to Dalvin Cook and let him run wild. Cook, the NFL’s leading rusher, totaled 369 yards and five touchdowns on 52 carries in the past two victories over Detroit and Green Bay. If the Bears can corral Cook to an extent, Kirk Cousins will be forced to make plays through the air. Cousins is 0-2 at Chicago as the Vikings’ quarterback.
With the Bears getting bombarded by bad news, this could be a time to buy low and take the points.
Pick: Bears 3.5
Hill: The award is called Most Valuable Player, so it really has become a quarterback-only honor based on the importance of that position. But if it were changed to Most Outstanding Player, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook would be among the front-runners. He has 13 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in seven games, and the one game Cook missed was the Vikings’ worst of the season. Cook will be on center stage Monday night vs. the Bears.
Chicago was gashed on the ground by the Rams and Falcons, who use zone running schemes similar to the one the Vikings run. The Bears, once 5-1, have crashed to reality and are now on the brink of being .500. With two teams going in different directions, take the Vikings, who have played well lately and have a soft schedule coming up. Not impossible they get back in the mix for a wild card.
Pick: Vikings -3.5