Minnesota Vikings (5-1 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (1-6 SU, 1-6 ATS)
Week 8 NFL
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, October 31, 2016 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: MIN -4.5/CHI +4.5
Over/Under Total: 40.5
On Monday Night Football, the Minnesota Vikings come to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears in an NFC North battle. Minnesota came off an early bye week and suffered their first loss on Sunday in a 21-10 loss to the Eagles. Chicago dropped another one and look to be in a pretty hopeless situation at 1-6. Last Thursday, they fell to Green Bay, 26-10. They were looking OK until QB Brian Hoyer broke his arm, with Matt Barkley filling in and not doing very well. They are expecting the return of starter Jay Cutler and maybe he can help get this offense in gear.
This is a chance for the Bears on MNF to create a positive development heading into the bye week. They've fallen on their face in other spotlight opportunities this season and they can make an impression this week. It's been a miserable season for the Bears, in addition to their backers, as the Bears have covered one measly spread heading into week 8 of the season. And let's at least be fair. The Bears have under-performed to an alarming degree, but the injuries have been brutal. If you didn't have a point of reference, it would be hard to distinguish from their active roster and the injury list. A quick glance at players out of action reveals a team not operating at anywhere near full-power.
Still, Cutler could inject some life into this offense. Not that he was tearing it up when he was behind center, before a thumb injury sidelined him. And it seemed like he had lost the team a bit, which was alarming. But he at least has a track record of success with this offense and could provide a spark in his return to the huddle. There are some useful pieces on offense. The run game is in tatters and despite some promising beginnings to Jordan Howard's career; he has flattened out in the past two weeks. Alshon Jeffery is a top receiver, but has gone all season without a TD catch. Eddie Royal (questionable) was showing good signs, before getting sidelined by yet another injury. And after catching 27 balls in two weeks, Cameron Meredith cooled down and is now questionable with a shoulder injury. TE Zach Miller is still a useful weapon, but the stars have not aligned for this group and they are the lowest-scoring offense in the league at under 16 points a game.
The Chicago defense may have had a chance to succeed this season, but injuries have rendered them a diminished version of what they could have been. At times, they seem vaguely robust, but other times, they look disorganized and even unmotivated. Sometimes, they get a good pass rush, with Willie Young making things happen and some youngsters like Leonard Floyd showing potential, but for the most part, they don't make a tremendous impact. They're not getting turnovers, timely stops, or any of the things you need from a defense to cover spreads and win games.
Minnesota came off the bye week and went into Philly with a flat-looking 21-10 loss. Sam Bradford, who has been instrumental in keeping the Vikings train moving forward, was pretty uneven on the afternoon. Their lack of a running game with Adrian Peterson gone shined through, even as Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon (questionable) have been decent. The offense used Cordarrelle Patterson (questionable) more and other ball-catchers have been making an impact like Adam Thielen, but they were not on the mark on Sunday. Marcus Sherels (questionable) didn't make any huge special teams plays and the defense, while not at all bad, was not its normal dominant self.
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The formula for Minnesota's success, especially on the road, might be tenuous. They've managed to do well thus far, but the limitations in their offense are starting to show more. And when the defense isn't utterly dominant or if they can't produce something like a big special teams play, putting up points could prove to be problem. But they are still the top defense in the league both in terms of yardage allowed and points scored against. They're 4th against the pass and 3rd against the run with the kind of balance that suggests a defense that is built to last—headed by "D" mastermind Mike Zimmer. The front is tough and rushes the passer while stuffing the run. The middle makes plays and the secondary sticks to receivers and makes big hits. They contribute heavily to the overall team effort and you can even go as far to say that the Vikes' overall success will depend on well they play on this side of the ball.
We see one team in the Vikes overcoming trouble. Most people would have thought you were crazy if you said they would start 5-0 without Bridgewater and Peterson. In contrast, you have a Chicago team that has folded under the adversity of injuries. Minnesota is facing a difficult back-to-back road scenario, having not been at home since October 9. But after a loss, look for some urgency to set in with a team that has shown they can respond. I'm taking Minnesota.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Minnesota Vikings minus 4.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Minnesota vs. Chicago game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!