The Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Monday, Oct. 31, 8:30 p.m.
|5-1, 1-0, 1st NFC North||
|1-6, 1-1, 4th NFC North|
Points Per Game
|299.2 yards per game, 31st||
|348.6 yards per game, 16th|
|279.5 yards per game, 1st||
|350.4 yards per game, 12th|
|224.8 yards per game, 27th||
|260.7 yards per game, 11th|
|197.8 yards per game, 4th||
|243.4 yards per game, 16th|
|74.3 yards per game, 30th||
|87.9 yards per game, 25th|
|81.7 yards per game, 3rd||
|107 yards per game, 17th|
|Sam Bradford, 1,214 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT, 100.3 rating||
|Jay Cutler, 373 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 75.7 rating|
|Stefon Diggs, 27 catches, 390 yards, 1 TD||
|Zach Miller, 33 catches, 305 yards, 3 TD|
|Jerick McKinnon, 68 carries, 217 yards, 1 TD||
|Jordan Howard, 73 carries, 352 yards, 1 TD|
|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|
|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|
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.