Chicago sits on top of the NFC North in sole possession of first place with a 6-3 record after last week’s 34-22 win over Detroit.
It was the first of three consecutive division games for the Bears over a 12-day period with Sunday night’s game versus Minnesota followed by a Lions rematch in Detroit on Thanksgiving.
Mitch Trubisky threw for a career-high 355 yards and three touchdowns leading the Bears beat to snap a 10-game losing streak against division opponents. The offense was clicking behind Trubisky who completed 23 of 30 passes and also ran for a 4-yard touchdown.
Allen Robinson returned from missing two games with a groin injury and caught six passes for 133 yards and two TDs. Rookie Anthony Miller added a career-high 122 yards on five receptions that included a 45-yard TD and a 55-yard catch.
The high-flying offense paired with a stout defense that got back star defensive end Khalil Mack after two weeks off from injury is coming together at just the right time as the Bears are in pursuit of their first playoff berth since 2010.
Sunday’s game against Minnesota was flexed to a prime-time affair given the importance of the first place division battle.
The Vikings are 5-3-1 and come into this weekend’s game off a bye. Last time out Minnesota beat Detroit to the tune of 24-9, its fourth win in the last five games. The Vikings gained 283 offensive yards with 128 rushing.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins connected on 18 of 22 passes for 164 yards with a touchdown and interception. Dalvin Cook pitched in for 89 yards on the ground. On defense Minnesota allowed 209 yards to the Lions offense with 143 passing yardage and sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford 10 times.
Minnesota is 11th in scoring defense allowing 22.7 points per game.
Cousins has fit in nicely since coming over to Minnesota from Washington. His 2,685 passing yards are the second-most passing yards through the first nine games of a season in team history.
Cousins needs 261 yards against Chicago to set the team record for the most passing yards through 10 games to start a season.
The Bears are finally healthy, and last week’s return of Mack and Robinson were long awaited with both providing instant impact on both sides of the ball. They also got wide receiver Taylor Gabriel back who contributed but is still nursing a sore knee that kept him on the sidelines earlier this season.
With Mike Hughes out for the season with an ACL injury, the Vikings have looked to rookie Holton Hill to fill a role as a kick returner.
While running back Cook is rounding into form on his road to recovery from a hamstring pull, Minnesota signed veteran running back Ameer Abdullah off waivers from Detroit as insurance.
Here are some things for NFL betting fans to consider in this matchup:
The Bears are a 2.5-point favorite with Karamba, and the margin for error will be small for either side – though the Bears have the home-field advantage at what should be a packed and raucous Solder Field Sunday night.
Chicago’s offense needs to keep things going as it has in recent weeks, but Trubisky has to balance his passing prowess with a little more of a running game. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will have opportunities to run against Minnesota’s defensive line.
Mack’s return last week paid immediate dividends with a pair of sacks against Detroit. Minnesota’s offensive line will have a tough time containing him, which means more pressure on Cousins and less time to find open targets.
The game could come down to a field goal, and for the Bears that might mean trouble. Kicker Cody Parkey suffered tremendously last week against the Lions. He hit the uprights four times, missing two field goals and a pair of PATS.
On the season, Parkey is 13 for 18 on field goal tries, and despite his shakiness last week, Bears coach Matt Nagy is staying with his kicker. We’ll see if he lives to regret that decision Sunday in what is expected to be a tight game.
But the sometimes up-and-down nature of the young quarterback at the controls is always a possibility. Conversely Minnesota will have a tough time moving the ball against the Bears’ ever-improving defense.
And with Mack back at near-100 percent, that becomes an even more difficult proposition. Bet the under at 888Sport.
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