Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at Chicago Bears (2-1)
Normally I like to go against significant week-to-week line movement as it tends to be an overreaction to a single week of play and the line in this game has shifted from Chicago -3 to Chicago -1 in the past week, a significant shift considering about 1 in 6 games are decided by 3 points exactly. However, my calculated line is Chicago -1, so I think it’s a justifiable shift. The Bears won by 16 in Washington last week, but it came against a weak Redskins team and they only won the first down rate battle by 1.67%, building a big lead due to a +4 turnover margin and 5 takeaways, which tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis.
In week 2, the Bears barely won in Denver against an underwhelming Broncos team in a game in which they lost the first down rate battle by 2.91%. In the past two weeks, they’ve faced two of the worst offenses in the league and have allowed a 38.19% first down rate, so I’m concerned they’re not the same defense they were last season when they led the league with a 30.38% first down rate allowed. They lost a couple key players in the secondary in free agency, slot cornerback Bryce Callahan and safety Adrian Amos, who were among the best players in the league at their respective positions in 2018.
Their defense could bounce back now that they are back at home, but they also could be without defensive end Akiem Hicks this week, as he’s listed questionable, but did not practice all week. Behind Khalil Mack, he might be their second best defensive player, so his absence would be a big deal. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky seems to be regressing under center, so the Bears need their defense more than ever this week in a huge divisional game against a solid Vikings team. This is going to be a no confidence pick either way, but I’m going to make this pick dependant on whether or not Hicks plays. If he does not, I’ll switch to the Vikings.
Update: Akiem Hicks is reportedly unlikely to play, so I am switching this pick.
Minnesota Vikings 20 Chicago Bears 19
Pick against the spread: Minnesota +1