It’s week 17 in the NFL and while the postseason picture is mainly set there are still a few games left on today’s slate with huge playoff implications. One is between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings (4:25 PM ET Sunday on FOX), which could determine postseason fates for both teams involved.
Depending on what happens in an earlier game between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, the Bears could find themselves playing for the second seed in the NFC and with it, a first-round bye. That’s certainly a strong incentive but it pales in comparison to what the Vikings are playing for. A victory on Sunday means Minnesota is headed to the playoffs as the second wildcard team. A loss means they are out and will have to wait until next season for a chance to win the Super Bowl.
There are certainly high stakes involved as both teams will be looking to secure their best potential playoff outcome. Here is our preview’s game analysis with Chicago Bears vs Minnesota Vikings predictions in a bid to beat the USA offshore bookies at the conclusion.
Vikings Season Recap
When the season began, the Vikings entered with high expectations. The team was coming off of an appearance in the NFC Championship game where they came so close to playing for a Super Bowl in their own home stadium. That wasn’t to be and instead the Vikings had to watch the Philadelphia Eagles bask in that glory. Ironically enough, if the Vikings lose on Sunday and the Eagles win their game against the Washington Redskins, Minnesota will once again be watching Philadelphia take their spot. Only this time instead of the Super Bowl, it will be just making the playoffs period.
Minnesota’s season opened with a win over the 49ers and then a tie against the Green Bay Packers. Looking back, it’s that tie that could make the difference. Had it been a loss, the Vikings playoff hopes would have already ended. Had it been a win, they already would have earned the final wildcard spot they are currently fighting for. But as such, the Vikings let one slip away and it resulted in a tie game. It was what followed which was more detrimental as the Vikings inexplicably laid a goose egg against the Buffalo Bills and then couldn’t quite get the job done against the Rams.
Things looked bleak for the Vikings up until week five when Minnesota had its NFC Championship rematch against the Eagles. The Vikings won by two points and in a way, turned the tide of their season and that of Philadelphia’s as well. The Vikings followed this victory up by two more and three of their next four. The Vikings were sitting in a good position at the point but then, a string of losses piled up against some tough teams as Minnesota fought through a four-game stretch against Green Bay, Chicago, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. They lost three of four.
With their playoff lives hanging in the balance, the Vikings won two tough games against the Lions and Miami Dolphins. They now face their biggest game of the year against the same Bears team that beat them 25-20 when the two met in week 11 of the season. QB Kirk Cousins needs to step up for the Vikings in this game.
Bears Season Recap
If you were to ask anyone outside of the greater Chicago area who their pick to win the NFC North was, it’s a safe bet that not many would have picked the Bears. However, ask that same question within Chi-Town and everyone would have picked the Bears all the way. Those diehard fans had their faith rewarded this year as for the first time in eight seasons, the Bears won the division.
Chicago has had a great year no doubt, but they started with the disappointment that Bears fans are used to when the team lost to rival Green Bay. They did so in a fashion that saw them lead the game for some time until Aaron Rodgers did what he does best, returned from an injury and took matters into his own hands. The Bears could have resigned themselves to this being just another year where they’d be hanging around but not contending, but they didn’t. The team regrouped and went on to win their next three to go into the bye week. Coming out of the bye, the Bears dropped their next two against the Dolphins and Patriots, bringing their record to just 3-3 on the season. At that point, winning the division and making the playoffs seemingly wasn’t in the cards. Much like how the Bears responded after the Green Bay loss, they responded here too, this time winning their next five and eight of their last nine.
It has been the way the Bears have played over this last nine game stretch that has some thinking about the Super Bowl, which would be huge for Chicago as they haven’t won the championship since 1985. There is no denying that their eyes are on the prize right now and a win against Minnesota, coupled with a loss by the Rams, could certainly make that road just a little bit easier.
Our Preview’s Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings Picks & Predictions Verdict
Coming into this week, the Bears/Vikings, Rams/49ers and Eagles/Redskins games were all scheduled for 1 PM ET. That meant that the Bears, who needed something from the Rams, and the Eagles, who needed something from the Vikings, wouldn’t be going into their games knowing that their fate was in their own hands. All three games going off at the same time made a lot of sense. But then the NFL saw fit to flex the Eagles and Vikings games to 4:25 PM ET while keeping the Rams game at 1 PM. For the Bears, this means they’ll go into their game knowing if they have something to play for.
Why is that important? Well, if the Bears don’t have something to play for, it is possible they opt to rest some of their starters or limit them in the game against Minnesota. Head coach Matt Nagy has said he has no plans to rest his players but anything can change in the heat of the moment. After all, playing guys only for them to get injured unnecessarily is not something Chicago wants to see happen.
Outside of starters suiting up, which certainly would have an impact on how to bet this game, there are also some other things to consider. The Vikings have excelled recently with a renewed commitment to the run game, something they didn’t have the last time these two teams played. It’s going to be a good test for the Bears defense, who have handled themselves pretty well against the run this year.
It’s a big game, possibly for both teams. One thing we do know is that the Vikings are playing for their postseason lives and a team with its back against the wall is often the most dangerous. Minnesota knows exactly what it needs to do and the books know it too. But that being said, don’t expect this to be a blowout. Here are our Chicago Bears vs Minnesota Vikings predictions for this preview:
- The first of our picks is for the Bears to stay within the 5.5 to 6 points favored to the Vikings on the sportsbooks’ spread. The best option for this wager is to bet Chicago +6pts @ -110 with BetOnline. It is +5.5pts @ -105 with Intertops and -115 with Bovada.
- When looking at the total points, what appeals is under 40.5pts @ -110 with Intertops or BetOnline. That selection is -115 with Bovada.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.