Chicago Bears (6-5 SU, 2-8-1)
The Rams jumped out to an early lead and the Bears spent the entire afternoon last Sunday trying to creep back into the ballgame. Unfortunately for Chicago, the Rams would have none of it and all the St. Louis backup QB had to do was toss for 167 and one TD to keep the Bears at bay. The defense has been the Achilles heel for the Bears which is surprising because Chicago has always been linked with a stout D-unit.
Though Jay Cutler is out, the offense has been moving fluidly due in large part to the seamless transition to Josh McCown who has launched six touchdowns and only been picked off once. The Bears are 2-2 since Cutler went down, but those losses were the result of an inept defense rather than a stumbling offense. The Bears are currently dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. They better get well in a hurry if they are to contain one of the very best in Adrian Peterson.
Minnesota Vikings ( 2-8-1 SU, 5-6 ATS)
The Vikings don't have a lot going for them, but they do have one of the most electrifying backs ever to play the game in Adrian Peterson. Peterson slashed and dashed his way to 146 rushing yards and one trip to the endzone in the 26-26 tie with the Packers last Sunday. It looked as though Minnesota would not only cover the number as six point underdogs in NFL odds, but would walk out of the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field with a victory. The Vikings took a 23-7 lead into the fourth quarter before Green Bay clawed their way back and ultimately forced an overtime where each team got a field goal until the whistle blew.
The Minnesota defense has struggled this season. The secondary can't seem to stop the pass even against the most pedestrian of quarterbacks. They rank 29th in passing yards allowed and even the down linemen aren't pulling their weight as they have allowed almost 120 yards per game rushing which places them 25th in the NFL. The Vikings will need to mount an effective pass rush if they want to have a chance in this one. The Bears are 7th in passing and backup QB has not been much of a downgrade from Cutler. Therefore, the Vikings are going to have to create effective blitz packages because playing a loose zone or even having the corners and safeties play man to man will result in a slow bleed leading to a hemorrhage.
If Adrian Peterson ever had thoughts of breaking his own single game rushing mark of 296 yards then this could be it. Peterson appears to be getting stronger while defenses appear to be wilting. The Vikings will ground and pound their way all afternoon unless they fall behind early which will be a death knell for the home team.
I'm not sure there's much more to like about the Bears, at this point in the season, than the woeful Vikings. To me this game is a coin flip and I would rather have the side with the home field advantage added to our NFL picks, and one of the greatest backs the league has ever known.
Play Minnesota -1 in NFL odds at WilliamHill.com.