Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) at Chicago Bears (6-3)
The Bears have quietly been one of the best teams in the league this season. Their 6-3 record is impressive, but they’ve been even better than that suggests. Their 3 losses have come by a combined 11 points and they rank 4th in point differential at +94. In first down rate differential, they are even better, entering this week first at +7.68%. Much like Jacksonville a year ago, they have the best defense in football and their offense gives them enough to win most weeks. They aren’t frequently mentioned as contenders, but they have enough talent and are playing well enough that they should be.
The Vikings are arguably as healthy as they’ve been all season coming out of their bye, after an injury plagued first half of the season, but the Bears are still the better of these two teams. This line, only favoring the Bears by 2.5 points, suggests the opposite. I actually have the Bears a few points better than the Vikings and I have this line calculated at Chicago -5.5. That’s a significant difference, because it crosses the key number of 3. As long as the Bears basically just have to win here at home to cover I like their chances a lot.
The one concern I have with the Bears is that they play again in 4 days on Thanksgiving and the track record of favorites before Thursday Night Football (51-71 ATS since 2012) isn’t great. However, this is a chance for the Bears to make a statement and prove they belong as the contender (and to put themselves in the driver’s seat to win the NFC North), so I don’t think the Bears are really going to be looking past this game to next week’s matchup with the last place Lions all that much. They’re one of my top plays of the week.
Chicago Bears 23 Minnesota Vikings 17
Pick against the spread: Chicago -2.5