Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at Chicago Bears (1-3)
The Vikings have had some of the worst injury luck in the league over the past couple seasons and the injury bug struck again in last week’s loss to the Lions, when promising rookie running back Dalvin Cook tore his ACL, ending his season. The good news is they get quarterback Sam Bradford back from a 3-game absence with a bone bruise on his knee. The Vikings were incredibly cautious with Bradford, who has had two surgeries on that knee, so he’s probably close to 100% if they’re letting him play.
That’s bad news for the Bears, as Sam Bradford had arguably the best game of his career in week 1 before getting hurt. The Bears’ defense isn’t as bad as the defense of the New Orleans Saints, the Vikings’ week 1 opponent, but they’re not nearly as talented as they were when they entered the season, with middle linebacker Jerrell Freeman, safety Quintin Demps, and outside linebacker Willie Young out for the season and middle linebacker Danny Trevathan suspended for this game for an illegal hit in last week’s loss to the Packers.
Bradford should have a good game against them, as he has been playing the best football of his career since arriving in Minnesota last year and he has an improved supporting cast around him in 2017, even with Dalvin Cook out. His top-2 receivers, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, have both taken steps forward and the Vikings have better running backs and offensive linemen this season, after making several additions this off-season, including left tackle Riley Reiff, right tackle Mike Remmers, and new starting running back Latavius Murray.
The Vikings also have a strong defense, so if they can stay healthy, they could be one of the more complete teams in the league. Against a banged up Bears team with a first-time starting quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, the Vikings should be favored by more than 3 points. I have this line calculated at -6.5 in favor of the Vikings, so we’re getting good line value with an underrated Vikings team. The only reason this isn’t my Pick of the Week is because the Vikings could get caught looking forward to Green Bay next week, but I still give them a good chance to cover both this week and likely next. This is a high confidence pick.
Minnesota Vikings 20 Chicago Bears 13
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3