How to Watch: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Monday Night Football Preview

minnesota-vikings-charles-johnson-vs-bears

The Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears 

Soldier Field

Monday, Oct. 31, 8:30 p.m.

ESPN

Quick Out:

Vikings   Bears
5-1, 1-0, 1st NFC North

Record

1-6, 1-1, 4th NFC North
21.5

Points Per Game

15.9
14.0

Points Allowed

24.1
299.2 yards per game, 31st

Total Offense

348.6 yards per game, 16th
279.5 yards per game, 1st

Total Defense

350.4 yards per game, 12th
224.8 yards per game, 27th

Passing Offense

260.7 yards per game, 11th
197.8 yards per game, 4th

Passing Defense

243.4 yards per game, 16th
74.3 yards per game, 30th

Rushing Offense

87.9 yards per game, 25th
81.7 yards per game, 3rd

Rushing Defense

107 yards per game, 17th
+11, 1st

Turnover Differential

-2, 22nd
19, 7th

Sacks

15, 14th
14, 15th

Sacks allowed

13, 12th
Sam Bradford, 1,214 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT, 100.3 rating

Quarterback

Jay Cutler, 373 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 75.7 rating
Stefon Diggs, 27 catches, 390 yards, 1 TD

Leading Receiver

Zach Miller, 33 catches, 305 yards, 3 TD
Jerick McKinnon, 68 carries, 217 yards, 1 TD

Leading Rusher

Jordan Howard, 73 carries, 352 yards, 1 TD

 

Injury Report:

Vikings Injury Status
Shariff Floyd, DT Knee Out
Zac Kerin, OL Hand Out
Jerick McKinnon, RB Ankle Out
Andrew Sendejo, S Ankle Out
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Concussion Questionable
MyCole Pruitt, TE Knee Questionable
Marcus Sherels, CB Wrist Questionable
Jarius Wright, WR Ankle Questionable
Bears
Eddie Goldman, DT Ankle Doubtful
Kyle Long, G Tricep Doubtful
Eddie Royal, WR Toe Doubtful
Bryce Callahan, DB Hamstring Questionable
Jeremy Langford, RB Ankle Questionable
Pernell McPhee, LB Knee Questionable
Cameron Meredith, WR Shoulder Questionable
Tracy Porter, DB Knee Questionable
Josh Sitton, G Ankle Questionable

 

Betting Lines

Vikings (-5); Over/Under 41.

Berserker Betting Take: The Vikings hot streak against the spread came to a screeching halt last week in Philadelphia, losing on the field as favorites. Returning to action on Monday Night Football in Chicago, Minnesota appears poised to handle the beat-up Bears, winning by at least a touchdown. Five points is a lot to lay given Jay Cutler’s success rate against the Vikings, especially at Soldier Field. But considering Cutler is returning from an extended absence and Chicago could be without a handful on key players, putting some dough down on Minnesota appears to be the pertinent move. Even with last week’s loss the Vikings are still 19-4 over the course of the last two seasons against the Las Vegas odds makers.

 

Why I’m nervous: Sure it’s the Bears, Jay Cutler and all their dysfunction but this is still a divisional road game in a building where the Vikings have had limited recent success. If you buy into Pro Football Focus grades, Pernell McPhee has been a great edge rusher the last two seasons, and Vikings would be remiss not to remember last year’s performance when he ate then right tackle T.J. Clemmings for breakfast.

As if the Vikings running game needed any other hindrance than its own offensive line, Chicago boasts two stellar inside linebackers in Jerrell Freehman (90.2 grade from PFF; 47 tackles; 4 tackles for loss) and Danny Trevathan (74.0 grad from PFF; 24 tackles, 1 sack). Already without Jerick McKinnon this doesn’t look like an ideal matchup for Minnesota to get its ground game rolling.

While fans have been excited about the potential of seventh-round pick Jayron Kearse at safety, the absence of Andrew Sendejo is large. One of Cutler’s strengths is pushing the ball down field to Alshon Jeffery and not having the experience of Sendejo on the back end could present some big-time problems for the Vikings defense.

 

Why I’m overly confident: It is the Bears, Jay Cuter and all their dysfunction. On paper, this should be a cakewalk for a hopefully embarrassed Minnesota squad. Cutler hasn’t played since week 1 so I wouldn’t expect him to be as sharp as he was in last year’s meeting at Soldier Field. Even in defeat last week the defense was again stout and should be handle an injury-plagued Bears attack.

While McPhee certainly purposes a problem, Chicago’s pass rush is nothing compared to the Eagles front the Vikings faced a week ago. The loss of McKinnon hurts, but let’s not pretend the ground game has been any sort of major advantage to this point.

Sam Bradford should have a little more time in the pocket, giving him long enough to pick apart and depleted Bears secondary.

And nothing gives me more confidence than the Zimmer effect. Zim didn’t mince words after the loss in Philadelphia and I fully expect him to have this team ready to dominate the NFC North’s basement dweller.

 

Key Matchup: This couldn’t probably be copy and pasted each week, but until the Vikings offensive line can show sustained improvement its battle with the opposing defensive front will always be the biggest matchup. Minnesota needs to decide which two tackles give them the best chance to win and stick with them—no more of that rotating nonsense. If McPhee does play—how the tackles slow him on the outside should dictate much of the outcome.

 

Berserker Prediction: This isn’t going to be the blowout victory many Vikings fans are expecting. This is still a division rival who knows Minnesota’s schemes well. However, the Vikings are far more talented on both sides to think they’ll be beat and Zimmer isn’t going to allow his team to have another letdown performance. Vikings pull away in the second half, 20-10.

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