The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings are eliminated from postseason contention. The only motivation now is to finish on a positive note with a win in the final week of the regular season.
Lookahead NFL betting lines cornered this game in Minnesota’s camp by projecting the Vikings as the 6-point home favorites before Week 17. Following Minnesota’s loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, which effectively knocked out the Vikings from the playoff race, the markets re-opened with the Vikings at -3.5 (or thereabouts depending on the choice online sportsbook) – down by two and a half points from their initial serving. And within a short while, the line moved against the Vikings further, down to -2.5.
Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, January 09, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at U.S. Bank Stadium
Bears Riding Two-Game Winning Streak
Chicago was eliminated from the playoffs by the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football in Week 15, giving the Bears several weeks now to come to terms with the disappointment of their 2021 campaign. Ironically, since that fateful day, the Bears haven’t lost a game. They beat the Seattle Seahawks and the New York Giants to improve to a 6-10-0 record ahead of the final week.
Inspired by Nick Foles, who was making his first start for Chicago in 2021, the Bears rallied in a come-from-behind 25-24 win over the Seahawks at Lumen Field and, simultaneously, defied the NFL odds. The Bears closed as the +7 road underdogs in that Week 16 contest.
The following week, Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears decided to give Andy Dalton the start over Saint Nick. Foles was relegated to the backup role while Justin Fields was inactive due to an ankle injury.
The decision worked in Chicago’s favor. The Bears took care of the hapless Giants in a lopsided 29-3 win at Soldier Field and they covered as the closing 6.5-point home favorites for NFL picks against the spread.
Dalton, making his sixth start for Chicago this season, was average, however. He went 18 of 35 for 173 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. It was the defense that did most of the heavy lifting on the day to give fans something to cheer about in a meaningless game.
In total, the defense had four takeaways, including two in the first four minutes of the game, and safety to help lift the Bears to victory. Linebacker Robert Quinn set a franchise record with his 18th sack this season, breaking Richard Dent’s record of 17.5 sacks set in 1984.
Vikings Miss Playoffs for Second Straight Season
Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings were eliminated from the playoffs for a second-straight season following a 37-10 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.
The Vikings went into the game severely short-handed due to covid-19. The biggest blow came when Kirk Cousins was added to the reserve/covid-19 list on Friday. Backup quarterback Sean Mannion got the start in Cousin’s place, but the journeyman quarterback struggled to get the offense going. In the final quarter, rookie Kellen Mond made a brief NFL debut. The third-round draft pick played one series, completing 2 of 3 passes for five yards. He didn’t return after that.
The Vikings were thoroughly outplayed, outgunned, and outmuscled by the Packers. Dalvin Cook struggled to get anything going as he was bottled up by the Packers. He finished with 13 yards on nine carries.
To say the outcome was disappointing is no understatement. Minnesota was the last to beat the Packers in November. If Zimmer had his full complement of players and the playing field were level, the Vikings would have fancied their chances in this second game of their NFC 1North series. Instead, they lost. The defeat marked their second straight loss in as many weeks, ending their slim hopes as they slipped to a 7-9-0 record on the season.
NFL Predictions and Picks
The Minnesota Vikings are hoping Kirk Cousins will be back for the final game of the season. Last week showed that Cousins does give this offense its best chance. Should the veteran quarterback be cleared to play, the Vikings as the 2.5-point home chalk may well be a steal bet for NFL picks. It won’t be a cakewalk though. In the last meeting, the Vikings offense had a whale of a time against a stoic Bears defense and only just eked out the 17-9 win.
The Bears are riding a two-game winning streak. It’s hard to overlook such momentum, even though those wins have come against dubious opponents. That said, the Bears’ offense is unpredictable and inconsistent. Who Nagy starts in the final week only adds to the ambiguity. There is some speculation that Fields might start for Chicago in the final game of the season. In theory, the rookie would give the Bears their best shot. However, it’s impossible to know how fit he’ll be coming off an ankle injury.
All told, this game is a bit of a toss-up. The Vikings are the better bet in this matchup at home. Thus, shading the Vikings as the 2.5 point favorites at home is the choice pick here. But there’s no guarantee that they’ll live up to expectations, so don’t go betting the farm on it. Anything can happen in a meaningless game, after all. In particular, one that has the potential to end the coaching careers of both Matt Nagy and Mike Zimmer.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.