This weekend’s regular season finale is all about the Minnesota Vikings playing for a first round bye in the playoffs. If they win at home over the Bears then they will clinch the bye. If somehow Chicago wins, then the Vikings will need the Carolina Panthers to lose and/or the Saints to win. Since the Vikings have defeated both the Rams and Saints this year, they hold the tie breakers and will get the #2 seed. Kickoff inside U.S. Bank Stadium is at 1 PM ET.
Sunday’s NFC North battle will mark the 114th time these two teams have played against each other since the Vikings came into the league. Minnesota holds the overall advantage with a record of 59-52-2. The Vikings also have a 36-21 all-time record at home against Chicago. Minnesota is 8-2 over their last 10 home games against the Bears. These two teams met back in October and the Vikings won a hard fought game 20-17.
Chicago (5-10) is 2-5 on the road and has won 2 of their last 3 overall games. Unfortunately, they come into this matchup with nothing to play for and it will probably show up on the scoreboard as the Vikings are a double digit favorite at home. The Bears are currently 14-33 under head coach John Fox and will most likely overhaul the entire coaching staff this offseason.
The Vikings (12-3) are 6-1 at home and have won 4 of their last 5 overall games. They’re positioned to claim the #2 seed in the NFC for the playoffs, which provides a first round bye. Additionally, they’re healthier than the #1 seed Eagles and have a great shot and home field advantage throughout the playoffs provided they win this weekend and the Eagles lose in the NFC semifinals.
The Vikings opened as a 13 point favorite, but the spread has come down slightly to 11.5 points. The Over/Under opened at 40 points and has come down to 39 total points.
With so much left to play for, it’s hard to imagine the Bears having any real shot at staying within 12 points. Chicago has one of the worst offenses in the NFL as they score only 16.9 ppg and average just 311 total ypg. Their passing attack is near the bottom of the league at 193.8 ypg and they feature a rookie QB in Trubisky who has 7 TDs and 7 INTs in 11 starts. Ironically, Trubisky got his first start against the Vikings back in Week 5.
In that first encounter, the Vikings beat the Bears and went on to win 8 straight games and 10 of 11 overall. They established their new identity on offense and transformed into one of the NFC’s best teams.
Currently, the Vikings have one of the best defenses in the NFL. They rank near the top of the league in the following major categories: #1 at yards allowed 280.9 ypg, #1 for points allowed at 16.1, #2 in net passing yards allowed at 194 ypg, #2 in rushing yards allowed at 87.1 ypg, #3 at 248 first downs allowed, and #1 in 3rd down percentage at 26.3%. In other words, Chicago’s terrible offense has no chance against the Vikings elite defense.
Ironically, Keenum relieved Sam Bradford in the Chicago game and has gone on to have a stellar year with 3,358 yards, 21 TDs and 7 INTs. He’s the reason this offense has kept chugging along despite the loss of their top RB earlier this season. Keenum deserves the NFL MVP award, but he won’t get it due to another QB named Tom Brady.
The Vikings running game averages 120.7 ypg and it features a duo of Murray and McKinnon. They provide Minnesota with a dangerous duo that’s a step below the Saints pro bowl tandem. McKinnon finished that game with 146 total yards and 1 touchdown.
I expect this game to be a blow out by time it’s all said and done. Chicago will try to keep it close, but the Vikings will pull away in the second half. Minnesota wins this one big by a score of 27-7.
Chicago is 2-4-1 ATS in their last 7 overall games, 5-10 ATS in their last 15 road games, and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games at Minnesota. The Vikings are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 overall games, 7-1 ATS in their last 8 home games, 8-3 ATS as a Favorite this year, 8-3 ATS versus NFC teams this year, and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games against teams with a losing record.