MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-2)
at CHICAGO BEARS (1-3)
Soldier Field – Chicago, IL
Kickoff: Monday, 8:25 p.m. ET
Line: Minnesota -3.5, Total: N/A
The Vikings will be trying to get back over the .500 mark when they face the Bears on Monday Night Football.
Minnesota has been alternating wins and losses to start the year, but this team should feel pretty good about earning a victory on Monday. The Vikings are without RB Dalvin Cook (Knee) for the remainder of the season and could be without QB Sam Bradford (Knee) for this week, but they are still going up against a lousy Bears team here. Chicago is coming off of a 35-14 loss to Green Bay last Thursday, and the team has only beaten Pittsburgh thus far. That’s obviously a pretty impressive victory for the Bears, but that game also felt a bit fluky. They’ll need to really play well in order to pull off the win over this disciplined Vikings team on Monday and that is not something that they have done in recent years. Minnesota is 3-1 both SU and ATS when facing Chicago over the past three seasons, but the Bears did beat them 20-10 when the teams met at Soldier Field last season. One trend that stands out when looking at this game is the fact that Mike Zimmer is 6-0 ATS against teams with a turnover margin of -1 per game or worse as the coach of Minnesota. John Fox, meanwhile, is 6-0 ATS off a road blowout loss by 14 points or more as the coach of Chicago. That means that something will have to give here.
The Vikings are currently dealing with a tough situation under center, as QB Sam Bradford (346 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT) has not played since lighting up the Saints in the season opener. He experienced some pain and swelling after the game and has just not been able to go since. Bradford has a history of knee injuries, so the team has been playing it safe with him and that’s probably the wise move. He’s day-to-day in this one, but the team would be just fine if QB Case Keenum (755 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT) were to need to play here. The gameplan would certainly be a bit more conservative with Keenum, but he is a veteran and is full capable of getting the ball out to guys like WRs Stefon Diggs (22 rec, 391 yards, 4 TD) and Adam Theilen (24 rec, 358 yards) in this game. The real loss for this team will be Cook, who looked like he was on his way to turning in one of the better performances at the position this year. Minnesota will definitely miss his ability to stay on the field for all three downs, but the team does have some solid depth behind him. Defensively, the Vikings have to be thinking about the possibility of scoring some points in this game. They are a very dangerous unit year in and year out and will be going up against a rookie quarterback here. It wouldn’t be surprising if there was a pick-six.
The Bears were not happy with the way they have played offensively in the first four weeks of the season, so the team opted to give rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky a chance to lead. Trubisky was the second pick in the draft last year, and he truly has all the tools to be a great quarterback in this league. He will, however, need to make sure he plays within himself on Monday. He might have the urge to go out there and put on a show, but he’s going up against a solid football team and needs to make sure he takes care of the football. The good news for Trubisky is that he does have a very good running game to lean on here. Both RBs Jordan Howard (252 yards, 4 TD) and Tarik Cohen (181 yards rushing; 24 rec, 150 yards, 1 TD receiving) are capable of making some big plays for this Bears offense, and both guys will be there for Chicago to utilize frequently. Howard will pound away between the tackles and Cohen will use his burst on the outside. Cohen will also serve as Trubisky’s security blanket in the passing game, as Trubisky will definitely want to dump it off to him a few times here. Defensively, the front seven will want to put pressure on a Vikings team that is lacking in talent in this game. If Chicago can make Keenum uncomfortable then the team has a great shot to win.