The Chicago Bears close their season on the road at Minnesota Vikings. With NFL odds already in full swing on this curtain closer for two of the losing teams in the NFC North, here's a preview complete with NFL picks.
Chicago Bears (5-10, 3-4 away)
When word got out that Jay Cutler was being benched in favour of Jimmy Clausen ahead of week 16 NFL betting, NFL odds makers responded swiftly by moving the NFL lines for their date with the Detroit Lions from an opening price of 4.5-points to a whopping 10-points with the Lions to the good. The really interesting bit, the Bears very nearly pulled off the upset across the board, a result that would have made Tom Coughlin's decision one of his best this season.
The Bears came out to play against the Lions and towards the end of the third quarter they had the 14-10 lead. The fourth quarter, however, was dominated by the Lions as the put up 10 unanswered points to win 20-14, effectively ending any notions of an upset NFL bettors may have been entertaining in live betting markets.
Jimmy Clausen ended the day going 23-of-39 for 181 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. His promising start as Cutler's replacement fading in the last quarter the way it did handed the Bears their fourth straight loss. No word yet whether he'll start in the final game of the season, but regardless who the Bears start it's hard to see them do anything but limp to the finish line.
Minnesota Vikings (6-9, 4-3 home)
Minnesota Vikings are after a disheartening loss to the Miami Dolphins in week 16 NFL betting, a game that the Dolphins practically robbed from them in the dying seconds on a blocked punt that resulted in a safety and lifted the Dolphins to the 37-35 win at home.
Despite the loss there were plenty of positive takeaways for the Vikings. Consider all the setbacks they've dealt with this season and the fact that Teddy Bridgewater was thrown in the deep end in his first NFL start, the Vikings have shown plenty of positives to build on in the coming season.
Speaking of the rookie quarterback, he's 5-7 SU in his inaugural season as a starter. The back-to-back losses to the Lions (16-14) and the Dolphins (37-35) in the last fortnight being the difference between a positive and negative season by the numbers. Both of those were narrow defeats and had a few plays, here and there, gone the way of the Vikings he could have been a 7-5 SU starter. Of course, that's just quibbling over the semantics of NFL betting, which may seem petty. All that matters is the status quo.
That said, you can't ignore certain intangibles. Such as Bridgewater showing more strength of character, poise and fight in his 5-7 SU record with the Vikings than his $126 million counterpart Jay Cutler in his 5-9 SU record as the starter for the Bears. Regardless of whether the Bears field Cutler or Clausen or the Janitor, we'd wager more than a few NFL bettors would fancy Bridgewater's chances based on his season.
NFL Betting Verdict:
What appeared as the best move by Tom Coughlin quickly proved to be an exercise in futility as the Bears limped to yet another defeat behind Jimmy Clausen, proving critics who dubbed the Bears as the underachievers of the season correct. No matter which starter the Bears resort to, it's hard to imagine the Bears turning around their fortunes. Not if the Vikings have something to say about it. The Vikings have played well over the last few weeks despite their losses. This is a chance for them to go out on a positive, winning note. With home field advantage, the Vikings looms as the better NFL pick to win both SU and cover against the spread.
Free NFL Pick: Vikings -6.5