After losing their first game of the season last week, the Minnesota Vikings (5-1) look to rebound against a familiar foe as they travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears (1-6) in a Monday Night Football match-up (8pm ET on ESPN).
With Monday comes Halloween but perhaps for the Minnesota Vikings, the scariest part of their season is already in the rear-view mirror. That’s because last Sunday they found themselves on the losing end of a 21-10 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was not a result that any of the pundits had predicted but it may not prove a turning point or a preview of the result for this game. It was the first time this year that the Vikings, the last undefeated team in the NFL, lost. More than that, it was the first time they looked little better than average.
That was the scary part. The not-so-scary part is that even an average Vikings team is better than the Chicago Bears. Ever since losing Jay Cutler (pictured) to injury early in the season, the Bears have had to deal with one injury after the next and a team that has been less than cohesive.
The Bears have dropped three games in a row and are currently tied for the second-worst record in the league. They have also lost the last three in a row to the Bears and five of the past seven meetings between the two NFC North rivals.
Beware the Vikings Defense
There is no better defense in the NFL than Minnesota and for opponents, the prospect of having to face them is less than ideal.
The Vikings lead the NFL with 16 takeaways, nine of which are interceptions. Minnesota also has the league-best turnover ratio (plus-11), total defense (279.5 yards per game) and is tied for first in scoring defense (14 points allowed per game). On top of that, the Vikings are the only team in the NFL with four players to have three or more sacks this year.
This isn’t exactly great news for Cutler, who is making his return for the first time since he was sidelined in week two when he injured the thumb on his throwing hand. It just so happened that Cutler’s return coincides perfectly with backup Brian Hoyer’s own, who was placed on injured reserve after breaking his arm in a game against the Green Bay Packers last week.
Cutler will be challenged upon his return but the Bears might be getting some more good news as Jeremy Langford is expected back from an ankle injury which has kept him out of action over the past four weeks. He will be in the backfield giving Cutler a reliable weapon alongside Alshon Jeffrey, who was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL last year but is still waiting for his first touchdown reception this season.
It has certainly been tough going for the Bears and having to face the Vikings is not exactly the best welcome back present. Cutler will have his work cut out.
Managing the Vikings Offense
Fortunately for Chicago, if there is any silver lining to having to go up against the Big Purple People Eaters is the fact that offensively, Minnesota is far from the best in the league. In fact, quite the opposite is true as the Vikings are the 31st ranked team in the NFL in total offense, combining for just 299.2 passing and rushing yards per game.
This starts at the top with Sam Bradford. Nearly perfect through the team’s first five games, Bradford did well to manage the offense. It wasn’t exactly a tough job given the defense that he had backing him up. Against the Eagles, that defense was actually the second best on the field and Bradford suffered as a result. He threw his first interception in six games and committed four fumbles, two of which resulted in turnovers.
Bradford wasn’t the only one who struggled against a game and strong Eagles defense. His top receiver, Stefon Diggs, who leads the team with 27 receptions and 390 receiving yards, was held to a mere two catches on five targets. This was the first game of the season in which Diggs failed to catch four or more passes and failed to hit the 40 yard mark.
There is no reason to expect that Diggs won’t be able to rebound, especially seeing as he has a very favorable matchup against the Bears on Monday. The Vikings will need him to do just that, maybe not so much for this week’s game but going forward as they continue their journey to the postseason. But Diggs isn’t the only one the Vikings will need to get going again.
Losing Adrian Peterson was a big blow to the Vikings and replacing his production has not been easy. Matt Asiata has been slated into that role but he has really struggled this year. That said, the last two weeks, as a solo act getting the majority of the team’s carries, Asiata has shown moments of promise. He is coming off his best game of the season, carrying 12 times for 55 yards. The week before he hit 55 rushing yards on 14 carries with a touchdown. Asiata was also a big part of the receiving game going for 25 yards on six receptions.
Our Preview’s Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Betting Predictions & Picks Verdict
It should be no surprise that the Vikings enter this game as heavy road favorites. According to the U.S. offshore sportsbooks, Minnesota is expected to win by between four and six points, with the total resting at 40.5 given the team’s top defense and Chicago’s very shaky offense.
- This preview would advise taking the Vikings not to fall into the trap of losing back-to-back games and they should ease to victory. Our pick and betting prediction is to wager on Minnesota -4pts @ odds of -105 with BetOnline sportsbook. 5Dimes are -4.5pts @ -110, while it is -6pts at evens with Bovada.
- As for the total points to be scored in this game, take the under 40.5pts @ -110 with Bovada, BetOnline or 5Dimes.
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.