Vikings vs. Bears Odds & Picks: Chicago Can Cover This Short Spread
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Mitchell Trubisky
Vikings vs. Bears Odds
The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears look to keep their playoff hopes alive when they face off.
With identical records at 6-7, it’s the Vikings that currently hold the tiebreaker thanks to their head-to-head win percentage. Both teams still plenty to play for, though — FiveThirtyEight projects they each have a 20% chance to make the playoffs.
The Vikings and Bears are both one game behind the Cardinals for the final wild-card spot in the NFC. The winner of this game could move into the conference’s seventh position should the Cardinals lose to the Eagles.
These teams already faced one another in Week 10, with the Vikings defeating the Bears, 19-13. Chicago struggled to move the ball while Nick Foles suffered an injury in-game, which allowed Mitch Trubisky to regain his job as the starter.
These teams are not that far apart, and with the Bears positioned as 3-point underdogs, there could be value grabbing the points.
Trubisky has started the Bears’ last three games, and while they’ve won only one, the offense has looked much more lively with the former second-overall pick at the helm.
With Foles as the starter, the Bears were averaging just 16.7 points per gam. Since Trubisky was reinserted back in the lineup, they’ve averaged 30.3 points per game.
One of the biggest challenges for the Bears has been their inability to run the football. Per TeamRankings, they’re ranked 28th with 93.2 rushing yards per game this season. However, over their last three games, the Bears have averaged 143.3 yards per game, which would put them eighth in the league over that span.
It’s no coincidence that their improved running game aligns with Trubisky’s return to the lineup — his mobility around the pocket paired with the threat of him running the option offense adds another layer that opposing defenses need to account for.
If the Bears keep a running back in the backfield to act as a blocker, teams now have to essentially spy both Trubisky and the running back in case he sneaks out for a screen pass.
In their loss against the Vikings, the Bears ran the ball 17 times for just 41 yards. That should explain how putrid the Bears running game was early on, especially when you consider that Minnesota is only ranked 20th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA.
Trubisky’s reemergence has the Bears offense humming again and they’ll be looking for some redemption against their division rival.
The Bears have some injuries in their secondary with cornerbacks Buster Skrine and Jaylon Johnson as well as safety Deon Bush already ruled out.
Linebackers Khalil Mack and James Vaughters were both limited participants in Friday’s practice but are listed as questionable for Sunday. On offense, only tight end Jimmy Graham (hip) appears on the injury report with a questionable status.
The Vikings haven’t made things easy on themselves the last four weeks.
They somehow lost to the Cowboys at home, then needed late rallies in consecutive weeks to defeat the visiting Jaguars and Panthers. Those three teams have a combined record of nine wins and 30 losses.
Last week, those close games seemed to catch up with the Vikings as kicker Dan Bailey missed three field goals and an extra point in a 26-14 loss to the Buccaneers. Overall, Bailey has had a rough season with his 66.7% field goal percentage being the lowest of his career.
Perhaps what is most surprising is that head coach Mike Zimmer has given Bailey a vote of confidence and elected to stick with him in what could be a pivotal game that decides Minnesota’s season.
Divisional games can always be tricky, especially given the familiarity both teams have with one another. The Bears held the Vikings to just two touchdowns in their last meeting and they remain one of the stingiest defenses inside the red zone. Chicago is allowing opponents to score touchdowns on only 52.27% of red-zone opportunities.
Minnesota is actually tied with Chicago in this red zone statistic, but the Vikings are the more likely team to get beat behind the ball with explosive plays. Per Sharp Football Stats, they’re ranked 30th in the league with 48 explosive pass plays allowed.
Minnesota will be without All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks for the third consecutive week. Tight End Kyle Rudolph will also miss out on Sunday with a foot injury, while backup running back Alexander Mattison is listed as questionable in his return from an appendectomy.
The Vikings are starting to show some cracks, but perhaps they’ve been there all along. This is a team that did start the season with a 1-5 record.
It’s problematic for a team to have kicking woes this late in the season. That’s a major concern for a bettor if you have to lay three points with a favorite. Missed field goals are essentially turnovers, and when you combine that with the Vikings’ 10 fumbles, it makes sense to grab the points in this spot with the Bears.
Here’s something else to consider: Over the last four seasons, Kirk Cousins has struggled to cover short spreads, per our Bet Labs data:
With a shaky Vikings kicker, every point will be valuable, so I’ll look to back the Bears at the current number of 3 or better.
Pick: Bears +3