Zylbert’s NFL Over/Unders: How Will Weather Affect Vikings-Bears?
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack
Betting odds: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
- Over/Under: 44.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC
- Zylbert’s 2018 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 6-4-1, +1.5 units
- Last Week’s Result: Chargers-Raiders Over 49 (loss)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
It’s been a long time since these two NFC North rivals clashed in a meaningful affair past the halfway point of the season.
That changes Sunday night in Week 11, when the Vikings travel to Chicago to take on the Bears in a game with first place in the division on the line.
It wasn’t bold to predict the emergence of Minnesota’s offense, which welcomed new quarterback Kirk Cousins this summer. The former Redskins signal-caller has been as good as advertised, enjoying arguably the best campaign of his seven-year career. With an assortment of explosive weapons around him, it’s not hard to see why.
However, many did not anticipate Bears second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky making the type of leap he has in Year 2. After an inconsistent freshman showing, the 2017 No. 2 draft pick has blossomed under new head coach Matt Nagy, guiding Chicago to an impressive 6-3 record.
Trubisky and Co. are scoring a whopping 29.9 points per game, which ranks third in the NFC behind only the world-beating Saints and Rams.
So, that begs the question: Will offense reign supreme when the Vikings and Bears meet for the first time this season?
To put it bluntly, no, that will not be the case for a variety of reasons.
First, while the two clubs have undergone a bit of a makeover compared to last year, both still boast strong defenses.
The Bears, of course, made the biggest splash defensively leading up to the season when they landed superstar Khalil Mack, a move that has paid dividends.
They’re one of only two teams in football to rank in the top five in both fewest points (19.4) and yards (319.6) allowed per game. Furthermore, they’ve churned out the second-most takeaways (24) in the league, and their 30 sacks rank them fifth. They’ve also given up the fewest first downs, as well.
Meanwhile, Minnesota has experienced similar success on the defensive side of the ball, which is no surprise given that it actually finished first in fewest points (15.8) and yards (275.9) allowed per game just a year ago. Accomplishing such a feat is extremely rare and a concrete indicator of an elite unit.
This year, the Vikings are surrendering about a touchdown more each week (22.7), but have otherwise looked just as stingy as they did in 2017. They’re slotted fifth right behind Chicago in yards allowed (322.2) per game, and their 31 sacks on the season have them tied for second. As far as NFC teams go, only the Bears are yielding fewer yards per play (5.0) than the Vikings (5.3).
In addition, the Minnesota defense has just been absolutely relentless on third downs, limiting opponents to a minuscule 25.7% conversion rate — by far the best mark in the NFL.
But the prevailing factor above all that could lead to the defenses dictating the how this Sunday Night Football matchup plays out might be the weather. Right from the 8:20 p.m. ET kickoff, temperatures at Soldier Field are expected to be below 30 degrees, which should only make things considerably more difficult for the two quarterbacks.
As discussed in our betting preview hub for this game, Cousins has struggled when working in such frigid conditions. This will be only his third career start with the temperature below 30 degrees, and in the previous two combined, he completed 52 of 84 passes for 473 yards, to go along with zero touchdowns and four interceptions. We’ll gladly take a performance in line with that.
His two main targets — Adam Thielen (back, calf) and Stefon Diggs (ribs) — being banged up can contribute to that potentially happening, too.
Trubisky, on the other hand, is more acclimated to playing in a colder environment, but his history opposite the Vikings suggests he won’t have his sharpest outing here. In his two meetings with Minnesota last year, the former North Carolina Tar Heel was defeated in both while connecting on just 32 of 61 passes (52.5%) for 306 yards, one touchdowns and one pick, collectively.
As it is, Vikings-Bears games tend to finish on the lower side in regards to the final score, with the under going 10-5-1 dating back to 2010. All things considered, look for a similar result in this primetime showdown. I was able to get it at 45 a few days ago (which, again, is why it can be crucial to follow me in the Action Network app), so I recommend buying the half point to get the under at that number.
Play: UNDER 45 (-110)