Minnesota Vikings (5-1) at Chicago Bears (1-6)
The Vikings started 5-0, but they were never as good as their record. Their defense has played incredible thus far this season, but their offense has been horrendous. For the first 5 games of the season, their offense’s inability to move the ball was masked by a +11 turnover margin and a +4 return touchdown margin. Both turnover margin and return touchdown margin tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so this team couldn’t depend on those to mask their offensive flaws forever. Last week, they had a +0 turnover margin and a +1 return touchdown margin and subsequently suffered their first loss of the season, 21-10 to the Eagles in Philadelphia.
On the season, they rank just 18th in first down differential. Their defense has allowed the 5th lowest first down percentage in the season, but their offense ranks just 30th in first down percentage, largely as a result of their inability to run the ball. With starting running back Jerick McKinnon out this week with injury, that figures to continue this week. The Bears are not a great team, ranking 25th in first down percentage, but this line is too high at 5 in favor of the visiting Vikings, especially with the Bears getting healthier. Kyle Long will miss his first game of the season and starters like Eddie Goldman, Kyle Fuller, and Kevin White remain out, but starters like Jay Cutler, Pernell McPhee, Danny Trevathan, and Josh Sitton all have missed time this season and now are healthy and back in the lineup. With about 3 in 10 games decided by 4 or fewer points, I’m pretty confident in the Bears at 5.
Minnesota Vikings 17 Chicago Bears 16
Pick against the spread: Chicago +5