According to My Bookie, the Minnesota Vikings are 3.5-point favorites for Monday night’s matchup with the Chicago Bears. If you prefer straight-up gambling, Minnesota is -190 favorites against Chicago (+160).
Minnesota is one of the toughest teams to predict through four games, as mentioned in last week’s Odds and Ends. The Vikings have put together two brilliant performances at home against mediocre NFC South opponents and two clunkers, one on the road against an AFC Championship team from a year ago and another at home against a division rival.
Chicago enters Monday night with one impressive win, coming a couple of weeks ago at home against Pittsburgh. Otherwise, the 1-3 Bears have performed at the level most rebuilding teams would perform.
Both teams appear to be starting different quarterbacks than they did in their previous games. Sam Bradford is “expected” to make his first start since Week 1 Monday night, according to ESPN. Additionally, the Bears announced that rookie Mitch Trubisky will make his first career start.
My Bookie lists the over/under point total for Monday’s game at 40.5. It’s a difficult total to place a bet on given that the offenses could look completely different based on new quarterbacks.
If history has any say, the best bet is to take the Bears +3.5. Minnesota has won just twice at Soldier Field since 2000, and both of those wins have been by three points.
Time: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Commentators: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters
Minnesota leads the all-time series, which includes 112 meetings, with a 58-52-2 record. Recently, however, the Vikings have won four of the last five meetings with Chicago, with the only loss coming at Chicago on a Monday night last season.
As previously noted, a Soldier Field plague has haunted the Vikings for the better part of the last 20 years. Minnesota has won exactly two games at Soldier Field since 2000, both of which were just by three points. In 2007, it took a Herculean effort from Adrian Peterson (224 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns) for the Vikings to get a win. And in 2015, it took a miraculous comeback led by Teddy Bridgewater to earn a narrow victory.
In the final matchup of the season in 2016, Minnesota dominated the Bears in a 38-10 win at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Minnesota fans have received encouraging news regarding quarterback Sam Bradford throughout the week. Mike Zimmer has said that he anticipates Sam Bradford returning as the team’s starting quarterback. After putting up seven points last week and losing Dalvin Cook for the season, the Vikings offense could use a boost in the form of Bradford returning.
OUT: T Rashod Hill
QUESTIONABLE: QB Sam Bradford, S Jayron Kearse
The Chicago defense, which already boasts little experience, could be without two key contributors on Monday night. Outside linebacker Willie Young has been lost for the season due to an elbow injury while cornerback Marcus Cooper is questionable with a back injury.
DOUBTFUL: LB Willie Young, LB Nick Kwiatkoski
QUESTIONABLE: CB Marcus Cooper, Hronsis Grasu
The Soldier Field curse certainly has me wary of predicting a Vikings win with any conviction. However, this Chicago team is extremely young on both sides of the ball. Offensively, rookie Mitch Trubisky will make his first career start with a receiving corps whose man options include Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson and Josh Bellamy. Defensively, the Bears secondary and linebacking corps are both significantly unproven, especially when both Jerrell Freeman (injured) and Danny Trevathan (suspended) will not play.
The Vikings defense will have to focus its attention on the running back duo of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. They possess different skill sets but are equally as dangerous and effectively carry the Bears offense on their backs. If they can be contained, Minnesota will have a good chance.
Minnesota’s offense should have the advantage against Chicago’s young defense, whether it’s Bradford or Case Keenum at the helm. The Vikings boast two of the top three receivers heading into Week 5 and, while they lost Dalvin Cook for the season, 2016 double-digit touchdown scorer Latavius Murray is set to take over as the lead back.
The Vikings are the better team and, if nothing else, a rookie quarterback making his first career start against one of the most vaunted defenses in the league should foreshadow this game’s result.
Vikings 27, Bears 13