When the Vikings (6-7) travel to face the Bears (4-9) on “Monday Night Football” for a second consecutive season in NFL Week 15 (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), they will be looking to keep their fading NFC playoff hopes alive. Minnesota leads Chicago by two games for second place in the NFC North behind Green Bay.
The Vikings are coming off a Thursday night win over the Steelers in Week 14. The Bears are trying to recover from a tough Sunday night loss to the Packers.
Both teams have been disappointing defensively, partly because of injuries. The Vikings have been great offensively with the quarterback-running back-wide receiver trio of Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson. The Bears are trying to develop their own dynamic triplets with rookie Justin Fields, David Montgomery and Darnell Mooney.
Here’s how Sporting News sees the latest edition of the classic matchup playing out on MNF:
Bears vs. Vikings odds for Monday Night Football
- Spread: Vikings by 6
- Over/under: 44.5
- Moneyline: Vikings -270, Bears +220
The Vikings have been bigger than field-goal favorites on the road since the initial lines, with the number growing by 2 points from 4. They have played all one-possession games save for a Week 3 win over the Seahawks. Seven of their games have been decided by four points or fewer.
(betting odds per FanDuel Sportsbook)
Bears vs. Vikings all-time series
The Vikings hold the slim lead 61-57-2. The Bears have narrowed the gap of late with winning five of the past six meetings, flipping a three-game winning streak and a six-of-seven run by the Vikings. The rivals first played fifty years ago in the 1961 season.
Three trends to know
—66 percent of spread bettors, or nearly two thirds, are liking the Bears as road night underdogs to cover with some cushion in the number in favor of the Vikings.
—More than 53 percent of over/under bettors are looking at the potential offensive disappoint from both sides and going below the total, despite the problematic defenses vs. both run and pass.
—The Vikings are both 5-5 against the spread and 5-5 straight up in their past 10 games. Six of them have gone over the point total. The Bears are both 3-7 ATS and 3-7 SU in their past 10 games. Only four of those games have gone over.
Three things to watch
Cousins vs. the Bears’ secondary
The Bears have a good young cornerback in Jaylon Johnson, but everything else in their pass defense is a mess when considering they no longer have the pass rush of Khalil Mack up front. Expect Minnesota to be aggressive in attacking downfield to put the game script heavily in its favor as quickly as possible.
Fields vs. the Vikings’ back seven
Fields has been let loose a little more in the Bears’ offense, being allowed to take shots downfield and take off running when the opportunities present themselves. The Vikings have a good pass rush and can make some plays, but they also can have trouble with confident rushing and deep passing.
Mike Zimmer vs. Matt Nagy
Zimmer is a little on the hot seat for the Vikings’ constant struggles in close games with perceived underachieving. Nagy is still chasing his early success as coach and his fickle nature with Fields hasn’t helped. The coaches both will be operating with a sense of urgency for one contending team and one rebuilding team.
Stat that matters
65.1. That’s the Vikings’ red zone percentage in terms of scoring touchdowns this season, good for No. 6 in the league. They are helped by a strong rushing attack with Cook but Cousins is also sharp at finding his key targets in short areas. The Bears are converting at only 53.1 percent, putting them No. 27 in the league. Those few points can make the difference.
Bears vs. Vikings prediction
The Vikings will win to boost their NFC wild-card playoff hopes, but like with every one of their games, it won’t be easy. The Bears will have some fight with Fields against a defense with plenty of holes. Playing in Chicago in December is tough for road guests. Both teams are dealing with key injuries and other issues, but Minnesota has fewer of those. In a high-pressure game for Zimmer and Nagy, the former gets more will to win out of his Vikings.
Vikings 26, Bears 23