NFL Week 15 Best Bets: Vikings vs. Bears Monday Night Football Picks

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Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings hands the ball off to Dalvin Cook #33. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

The Minnesota Vikings (6-7) will try to stay alive in the NFC wild-card race on Monday night when they take on the Chicago Bears (4-9), who only rank ahead of Detroit. The Vikings escaped Pittsburgh after nearly blowing a 29-0 lead last Thursday while the Bears started strong in Green Bay before losing 45-30. But what about the NFL odds?

Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears

Monday, December 20, 2021 – 08:15 PM EST at Soldier Field

Minnesota (7-6 ATS) is a 5-point favorite over the Bears (4-9 ATS) at many of BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. Only the Jets (3-10) have a worse spread record than the Bears this season. However, the Vikings are addicted to one-possession games, and they can become the seventh team since 1940 to play 11 straight games decided by fewer than nine points.

Kirk Cousins Ends Historic Streak

Lost in the drama of Minnesota nearly blowing a 29-0 lead to the Steelers was the end of one of the wildest streaks in NFL history. Vikings' quarterback Kirk Cousins was 0-29 in his career when he had a passer rating under 85.0, the worst record in NFL history (minimum 20 attempts in a game).

A decade in the NFL, Cousins never had that statistically underwhelming game that still resulted in a win thanks to a good performance by his rushing offense or the defense. Well, that finally happened for him against the Steelers as Cousins’ poor night – 2 interceptions and a 45.2% completion rate gave him a 63.4 passer rating – was a big part of what nearly brought the Steelers back for a historic win.

But Dalvin Cook was incredible in building the lead and finished with 205 rushing yards, barely being touched at the line of scrimmage by Pittsburgh’s putrid run defense. The defense hung in to do just enough to prevent the game from going to overtime.

Cousins has some incredible weapons in Cook and Justin Jefferson, and that could be enough for him as Adam Thielen continues to deal with a dreaded high-ankle sprain, which usually takes multiple weeks to return from. But Cousins threw a deep touchdown to K. J. Osborn and tight end Tyler Conklin has had a decent season.

While Cousins has not impressed often in island games, the Chicago defense has regressed to 29th in points per drive this season. This is a bad defense now and not anything like the 2018 unit that held Cousins in check. Cousins has notched multiple wins in Chicago weather in December in his career, and he usually throws for around 270 yards and a touchdown or two against the Bears. He should not be the problem in this one and should play better than he did in last week’s win.

Bears: Offensive Explosion or Mirage?

Watching the Bears in prime time is usually a dull experience, but they put on a show (at least for a half) against Green Bay last week. Since 1940, the Bears are 51-1 when they score at least 27 points in the first half. The first loss was Sunday to Green Bay as the Packers outscored Chicago 17-0 in the third quarter and never looked back on their way to covering as 12-point favorites.

The game was very unusual for the Bears, who scored a season-high 30 points, but it did not feel sustainable as a big part of the success was Green Bay having one of the worst games imaginable on special teams. The Packers allowed the NFL’s only punt return touchdown of the season by Jakeem Grant, who took it 97 yards after fielding the ball inside his own 5.

While Grant was always a fine returner in Miami, his sudden transformation into Tyreek Hill on Sunday night was not predicted by anyone. Grant took a short pass from Justin Fields and turned it into a 46-yard touchdown. Fields also had a 54-yard touchdown pass on another unimpressive throw, but he also threw a pick-six in the quarter. It was really the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Bears on Sunday night.

When the Bears played Minnesota last December, David Montgomery ran wild for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Bears have to get him going again after he only had 42 yards on the Packers. Fields rushed for 74 and has been getting better at adding that element to his game. But the rookie still makes too many mistakes that make it so hard to trust him.

Prediction

Both defenses are not good, but the Vikings still have a significant edge on offense compared to Chicago’s group. The Bears are 0-8 with seven double-digit losses when they allow more than 17 points this season. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is only 5-9 ATS and 7-7 SU against Chicago, but this is one of the weakest Chicago teams he has seen.

I like the Vikings to cover to close your Week 15 NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Vikings -5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Vikings -5 (-110)
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