NFL Monday Night Football Odds & Picks: How To Bet the Vikings vs. Bears Spread
Getty Images. Pictured: Kirk Cousins, Nick Foles
- The Bears hope a new playcaller will ignite their dormant offense on Monday night.
- A red-hot Dalvin Cook will face one of his toughest tests of 2020.
- Chris Raybon lays out how to bet this NFC North matchup at Soldier Field.
NFL Odds: Vikings vs. Bears
The Vikings are 3-15 straight up over their past 18 games at Soldier Field. Will this time be any different?
After an abysmal start, the Vikings are up to a respectable 15th on defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, but the same can’t be said for the Bears offense, which ranks 28th. The Bears are averaging only 19.8 points per game, 29th in the NFL.
It’s been bad enough that head coach Matt Nagy has decided to demote himself, ceding playcalling duties to Bill Lazor. One of Nagy’s issues was that he couldn’t keep himself from going away from the run, dialing up 42.7 pass attempts per game for Nick Foles.
If Lazor wants to run more against a Vikings defense that ranks 19th in rush defense DVOA, he’ll have to do so without the services of starting running back David Montgomery (concussion). However, that may not be a bad thing: The 2019 third-round pick hasn’t been able to translate his tackle-breaking ability into much yardage, failing to crack 4.0 yards per carry in six of nine games this season and 16-of-25 for his career.
Practice-squad call-up Lamar Miller is capable of adding some juice alongside summertime standout Ryan Nall, who rattled off 358 yards on 56 preseason carries in 2018-19, with wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and former Oregon State Beaver Artavis Pierce mixing in.
Regardless of who the back is, the run game should receive a boost with the expected return of Cody Whitehair (reserve/COVID-19), who ranks first on the team with a 76.0 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.
When Foles takes to the air, he should be able to have success targeting Allen Robinson against Minnesota’s beleaguered cornerback group. Robinson entered Week 10 ranked sixth among wide receivers in catches (57) and yards (712), and should be able to climb further up the leaderboard against a Vikings defense that ranks 29th in DVOA vs. opposing No. 1 wide receivers on 8.8 schedule-adjusted targets per game, which are tied for fifth-most, per Football Outsiders.
The Vikings offense vs. the Bears defense is a strength-on-strength matchup — Minnesota enters Monday night ranked seventh on offensive DVOA, while the Bears rank fourth on defense.
Dalvin Cook has rampaged through NFL defenses for a league-leading 122.6 rushing yards per game on 20.6 attempts — an outstanding 6.0 yards per carry.
But Cook has taken advantage of some butter-soft run defenses along the way, and his splits back that up:
- Cook vs. Run Defenses 15th or Worse In DVOA (five games): 22.6 carries per game, 146.0 yards per game, 6.46 yards per carry, 2.0 touchdowns per game
- Cook vs. Run Defenses 14th or Better in DVOA (two games): 15.5 carries per game, 64.0 yards per game, 4.13 yards per carry, 1.0 touchdowns per game
Chicago is ranked seventh in run-defense DVOA and is coming off a game in which it held Derrick Henry to only 68 yards on 21 carries (3.2 yards per carry), so Cook will be hard-pressed to top 163 yards for a third straight week. In fact, Chicago has allowed just one 100-yard rusher on the season.
When Kirk Cousins takes to the air, he’ll look to wide receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson more often than not, as the duo is responsible for 102 of the team’s 201 targets (51%) and have racked up a combined 71 catches for 1,107 yards and 10 touchdowns. But with cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson, Chicago is capable of matching up, ranking No. 1 in DVOA vs. WR1s and No. 6 vs. WR2s.
With the Bears also ranking No. 2 in DVOA on passes to running backs, Cousins will miss the services of top pass-catching tight end Irv Smith Jr. (groin) who has already been ruled out.
We knew that Chicago was never as good as its 5-1 start, but it matches up well with Minnesota: The Vikings defense will be susceptible to the Bears top weapon in Robinson, and the Bears excel at defending the positions of the Vikings’ top three weapons on offense (Cook, Thielen, Jefferson).
Big money bettors aren’t buying it, though, steaming the Vikings to — and at some books, through — the key number of three (compare real-time odds here).
However, it’s been advantageous to fade these steam moves and buy back on the other side, which fits one of our Action Labs PRO Systems that has produced a 62.8% win rate since 2003, covering by an average of 2.89 points per game:
Nagy is 3-1 against the spread (ATS) when facing Mike Zimmer, including 2-0 at Soldier Field. And as I alluded to in the intro, the Vikings haven’t played well here for the better part of the past two decades, going 1-6 ATS in Zimmer’s tenure and covering only three times since 2003:
I have this game power rated at Bears +1.5, which aligns with our PRO Projection for this game. There’s value down to the key number of 3.
PICK: Bears to +3