While the Bears were losing six straight games, it seemed impossible that at this point in the season, they would still be involved in meaningful football. But such is life in the topsy turvy NFC. Both the Bears and Vikings are below .500 but alive for the postseason. And with the Giants still on the playoff bubble, this game has meaning to them too. An early season loss to Chicago means that it suits the Giants’ playoff needs most if Chicago loses.
The Line: Bears at Vikings (-3.5)
If last week’s Bears offense shows up, this is an easy line for them to cover. They were world-beaters against the Texans, and Mitchell Trubisky actually outplayed Deshaun Watson. Who thought that would ever be true?
The problem for Chicago is that performances like its 36-7 win in Week 14 is the extreme exception. Overall the offense is ranks just 28th in the NFL, and 25th in points scored. The Vikings boast the 5th ranked offense in the NFL, and thanks to Dalvin Cook, they have one of the most dynamic running games in the league.
The Bears have the feeling of a team that knows their coaching staff isn’t long for employment. Head coach, Matt Nagy’s tenure has been tied to Trubisky for its duration, and both men have been massive disappointments. Nagy has recently turned over offensive play-calling, and it’s actually worked. For an alleged offensive play-calling master like Nagy, that doesn’t look good. It also leads to the question – why not sooner?
It’s unclear if a Chicago playoff appearance will save Nagy’s job, but with a win over Minnesota, there is a scenario that puts the Bears in the playoffs. They get Jacksonville in Week 16, and then a Packers team that may be resting its starters in Week 17.
The Vikings’ playoff road is more complicated difficult. They must beat the Bears, and then in Week 16, they’ll face a motivated New Orleans Saints team that may be getting Drew Brees back at quarterback. Last year’s comeback playoff win at New Orleans is one of the biggest moments of Kirk Cousins’ career, and it may take a repeat of the feat for Cousins to solidify his future in Minnesota.
Cousins is under contract through 2022 and carries $41 million in dead cap money for 2021. So Minnesota can’t cut him. But there might be a trade market for a quarterback who is only 32. But a failure to get to the playoffs with a great running back in Cook, a great wide receiver in Adam Thielen, and a top rookie wide receiver in Justin Jefferson will not help his cause.
Vikings Will Cover
This game will break for the Vikings and set up a big game for Minnesota in Week 16 at New Orleans. It’s simply too hard to see the Bears’ offense playing big two weeks in a row. It’s been four weeks since the Vikings covered the spread, but that streak comes to an end on Sunday.
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