Chicago Bears (6-7) at Minnesota Vikings (6-7)
Typically, I like to go against significant week-to-week line swings, as they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play. This game features one, as the Vikings have gone from being favored by 6 points on the early line last week to 3 points this week. The Vikings lost last week, but they played relatively competitively with a talented Buccaneers team, so that line movement is probably primarily due to the Bears’ big 36-7 win over the Texans last week. The Texans seemed to barely try in that game though, with their season essentially being ended the week before in heartbreaking fashion in a last second loss to the Colts, so I don’t give the Bears too much credit for that one, especially since the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league right now due to several key absent players.
My calculated line is Minnesota -4.5 and my line likely would have been around there regardless of how the Bears played last week, so the line movement from 6 to 3 is a big deal, as I probably would have been on the Bears at +6. Both of these teams are 6-7, but the Vikings have played better than their record, ranking 7th in schedule adjusted first down rate differential at +2.37%. The metrics they have struggled in are metrics that are much less predictable week-to-week, like their net -9.36% fourth down conversion rate, their -21.21% net field goal conversion percentage, their 39.39% fumble recovery rate (29th in the NFL), their 3.00% interception rate (28th in the NFL) that is significantly higher than quarterback Kirk Cousins’ average from the past 5 seasons (1.90%), and their -4 return touchdown margin
Even though we’re getting some line value with the Vikings, I wouldn’t recommend a bet because they’re in a couple bad spots. For one, they have a much tougher game on deck in New Orleans, while the Bears have a very easy game against the Jaguars. Favorite cover at just a 45.5% rate when they next face an opponent with a winning percentage 60% better than the team their opponent will face next week. Making matters worse, the Vikings game against the Saints is next Friday, so the Vikings will be on a short week. Favorites cover at just a 43.7% rate all-time before a Thursday or Friday game. I’m still on the Vikings for pick ‘em purposes, but this is a no confidence pick.
Minnesota Vikings 24 Chicago Bears 20
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3