Chicago Bears (5-8) at Minnesota Vikings (8-5)
This line is way too high at 6. The Vikings are 8-5, but they’ve lost 3 of their last 4 because of a tougher schedule, including two losses by 17 or more, and they rank 16th in rate of moving the chains differential. The Bears are only 5-8, but they rank 13th in rate of moving the chains differential, as 5 of their losses have come by 6 or fewer, relevant, considering this line is at 6. In fact, excluding the two games Jay Cutler missed with injury, the Bears’ biggest loss came by 8, week 1 against the Packers.
In the 11 games Cutler has been healthy, they’ve moved the chains at a 72.03% rate, as opposed to 56.25% in the other 2 games. Granted, those two games Cutler missed were against Seattle and Arizona, arguably the two toughest defenses they’ve faced, so they probably wouldn’t have had much success either way, but this is just the Bears’ 7th game with Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Alshon Jeffery all healthy so they are probably more talented than their 13th place rank in rate of moving the chains differential suggests. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is also expected back, after missing last week.
The Vikings get defensive tackle Linval Joseph back from injury this week, which is significant, but they’re still in a worse injury situation than they have been for most of the year, as outside linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith, two of their best defensive players, remain out. They’re less talented than their 16th place rank in rate of moving the chains differential suggests. The Bears, I think, are the better of these two teams right now and yet we’re getting 6 points with them on the road.
The Vikings are also in a bad spot, as divisional home favorites with winning percentages of 50%-67% are 65-95 ATS in weeks 15-17. It’s a weird one, but it does make sense that teams competing for a playoff spot would choke against divisional opponents late in the year. The Vikings are in a good spot too though, as they host the Giants next week, while the Bears go to Tampa Bay. Favorites are 86-63 ATS before being favored again when their opponent will next be underdogs, since 2014. I still like the Bears’ chances of keeping this one close a good amount though.
Minnesota Vikings 17 Chicago Bears 16
Pick against the spread: Chicago +6