Chicago Bears vs Minnesota Vikings: Monday Night Football Breakdown and Prediction
A divisional clash is upon us in tonight's Monday night football matchup. The Vikings (6-7) are coming off a near bye week-long break, having not played since December 9th. That was an eight-point win that again came down to the game's final play against the Steelers. The Vikings are still in the wild card race, but a win tonight is almost necessary to keep their hopes alive. The Bears (4-9) looked like they were about to shock the world in their game at Lambeau Field last week, as they led by ten with only 1 minute left in the first half. They went on to lose by 15. This year, the Vikings have made great television, as they have been in one-possession games in every contest this year except one. That includes ten straight. The Vikings and Bears have had their last three meetings decided by one possession. Are we in for another game that the final drive will determine? Let's take a closer look at this matchup.
Welcome back, Dalvin Cook. After missing the game against the Lions, Cook made quite a return against the Steelers, racking up 222 all-purpose yards, with 205 of those on the ground. It's clear that he was at the forefront of the offense in that game, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a similar result tonight. In the two games against the Bears last year, Cook went off with 63 combined touches for 271 all-purpose yards. Cook would be slightly less threatening to the Bears if they had six-time pro-bowler Khalil Mack or Akiem Hicks, but they will be without Mack and potentially Hicks tonight. The most significant question mark for the Vikings tonight is Adam Thielen, who is questionable for tonight and will be a game-time decision. The duo of Thielen and Jefferson has been torching secondaries this year, with 149 combined receptions and 1974 receiving yards. Even though the Vikings won last week without him, it will be much easier for the secondary to focus on Jefferson with the threat of Thielen out of the question. The defensive line will have its hands full tonight, as David Montgomery was ruled active after missing practices this week with an illness. The Vikings rank 27th in rush yards allowed per game and 31st in opponents yard per rush (4.7). Montgomery should have a big role in this game tonight, and the Vikings line will have to step up tonight to shut him down if they want to win.
The bears have been an underwhelming team this year. They rank in the bottom five of every passing statistic and average 1.9 touchdowns per game, 28th in the league. The best chance for the Bears tonight is to keep Cousins off the field. The Vikings have been winning in shootouts, with their last four going over 55 points. If the Bears can pound Montgomery and keep possessions long, I like their chances to at least cover the number in this one against a team that loves close games. After all, the Vikings have an already below-average rush defense and are also down defensive end Danielle Hunter, one of their most pivotal players on defense. Justin Fields has been showing increased confidence week by week and has been using his legs a lot more, which has helped create a more dynamic offense. This is good news for the future for Bears fans, but he is currently dealing with a hand injury that could have him sitting in the pocket more instead of running to protect against further injury.
From an initial glance and from the stats, this seems like the Vikings game to lose. However, the Vikings seem to find a way to make every game close this year, and with defensive injuries along with the question of Thielen, I believe we are in for an interesting game. Along with those points, the Vikings really struggle at Soldier Field. They have lost 16 of the last 20 games at Soldier Field. The Vikings are also 1-4 against the spread in the last five meetings at Soldier Field. Even with all the Bears' injuries and Covid/Illness inactive players, I still think the Bears are the right side to back against the spread tonight. The Bears are sitting at +6.5 on most books right now. However, the better play to me is to back Montgomery in this spot. In a tight divisional game, the Bears will look to control the clock against a 31st ranked rush yards per play defense. Combine that with Fields possibly being limited in his own rushing abilities tonight, I expect Montgomery to be the stat leader on the Bears tonight.
David Montgomery O59.5 rushing yards (-115)