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Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears
Betting Line: Vikings -1.5 o/u 40.5
John J. Raspanti
The Vikings (3-5) have about as much drama as a daytime soap opera. They have dealt with their quarterback's fickle nature, their coach's finger pointing, and their own internal squabbling. Last week though they found something. They railed from way back to stun the Arizona Cardinals 27-24 as quarterback Brett Favre threw for 446 yards.
The question is can they carry their newfound momentum in this weekends
showdown with Bears (5-3)? Favre has been spotty, erratic and sometimes (last
week) brilliant. He leads the NFL with 13 interceptions while hitting on 62
percent of his passes. Running back Adrian Peterson is having a tremendous
season, having gained 857 yards on the ground and scoring seven touchdowns.
Peterson has torched the Bears defense with some long runs over the years. Wide
receiver Percy Harvin has become Brett Favre's favorite target with 40 balls
caught. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe has been targeted 24 times while Adrian
Peterson is dangerous out of the backfield with 26 catches. Defensively the
Vikings are ranked fifth in the NFL. If they have a flaw, it's against the pass.
Linebackers Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson lead the team in tackles, while
Jarad Allen and Ray Edwards are the sack masters.
The Bears are the least respected winning team in the NFL. Most feel they have achieved their record by employing some smoke and mirrors. There might be a bit of truth in that statement. Their defense has been solid. Linebacker Brian Urlacher is having an outstanding season, leading the team in tackles and assists. Lance Briggs is back from an injured ankle and last weekend Charles Tillman forced a key fumble. Israel Idonije has recorded five sacks, while Julius Peppers has only two. Peppers though, has contributed mightily in other ways for the Bears defense.
Offensively Chicago has struggled all year. Quarterback Jay Cutler has
completed 60 percent of his passes but has been inconsistent of late. Cutler had
a rough game against the Redskins but bounced back this past weekend with a good
performance. He needs to be at the top of his game against the Vikings tough
defense. Running back Matt Forte has gained a little over 400 yards on the
ground while catching 29 passes to lead the team. Johnny Knox is the Bears deep
threat gaining over 19 yards every time he catches a pass. Tight end Greg Olsen
is a Cutler favorite.
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Sometimes you can "out think" yourself as a handicapper. Perhaps make a play on a team you feel is "due", or on a team that you think is better than the other, regardless of what the numbers play. You've got to be careful. Sometimes you just need to take a look at what the numbers are telling you, and act accordingly. In this spot, perhaps the Vikings simply aren't a very good football team. Perhaps they are getting more respect here than they deserve, being favored on the road.
The Vikings are 0-4 on the road this year. Granted, those losses came against the Packers, Jets and Pats, but even their wins have been unimpressive, knocking off the Cards and Cowboys for example, by a field goal, is hardly anything to write home about. The Bears yards per point numbers are 15.6 offensively and 186 defensively making them +3 overall, and are +1 in turnover margin. The Vikings come in at 18 offensively and 14.5 defensively making them -3.5 overall. They are a whopping -9 in turnover margin. That's a 6 point edge for the Bears before we give them a couple points for home field advantage.
Schedule strength is a factor here, but this is the NFL folks. Not much difference between the best and worst teams. The Bears inability to run the football is also a factor here. But we're going to side with the Bears at home against a Vikings team that we feel could be ready to implode. Once again we'll offer a couple of different options to bet this game.
1) Bears +1.5
2) Teaser Bears +7.5 and Under 46.5