Chicago Bears (6-10, 6-10 ATS) at Minnesota Vikings (7-9, 8-8), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Bears Stats and Trends
Chicago is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games.
The Bears are 4-1 toward unders in their last five NFC North contests.
David Montgomery hasn’t been terribly effective but he’s seen 16+ touches in eight straight games since he returned to the lineup off of his knee injury in Week 9. He compiled another 24 touches for just 81 yards (3.4 YPT) but he found the end zone twice against the Giants to finish with 21.1 FP. Montgomery managed 18/60 rushing and 5/23 receiving when these teams met just three weeks ago.
Justin Fields was set to return this week after a two-week absence for an ankle injury, but he landed on the COVID list on Thursday, which will likely knock him out for the season finale. Fields completed 26/39 passes for 285 yards (7.3 YPA) and one TD and he added 7/35 rushing against the Vikings back in Week 15. Andy Dalton will likely get another start this week after completing 18/35 passes (51.4%) for 173 yards (4.9 YPA), one TD, and one INT in a victory over the Giants last week.
Darnell Mooney has taken over as Chicago’s top WR this season with Allen Robinson vanishing, and he’s 71 yards away from hitting 1000 yards for the first time in his career. He’s posted 5+ catches in six of his last seven games and he has 55+ yards in five of those contests. He posted 5/63 receiving on seven targets against the Vikings three weeks ago, and he just missed a touchdown in that contest.
Cole Kmet has 3+ catches in 10 of his last 11 games, but he’s yet to find the end zone this season. He managed just 3/25 receiving on five targets in a victory over the Giants in Week 17. Jimmy Graham has vultured three touchdowns in the last six weeks. Kmet hung 4/49 receiving on five targets in this matchup three weeks ago.
Brolley’s Vikings Stats and Trends
The Vikings beat the Bears 17-9 as seven-point road favorites in a game totaled at 47.5 points back in Week 15.
Minnesota is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 home games.
The Vikings are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games against teams with losing records.
Minnesota is 6-1 toward overs in its last seven games.
Dalvin Cook had a season-worst 4.3 FP last week with Sean Mannion at quarterback against the Packers, finishing with 9/13 rushing and 3/0 receiving. Cook needed 28 carries to get 89 yards (3.2 YPC) against the Bears in Week 15, and he has just 6/19 receiving combined in his last three games.
Kirk Cousins has fallen below 18 FP in his last three games with Adam Thielen (IR) out or hindered after Kirkie topped that mark in eight of his first 12 games. Cousins did complete 71.0% of his passes for 8.3 YPA in their loss to the Rams in his last game in Week 16, but he threw for just one TD after tossing for multiple scores in his previous seven contests. Kirkie completed 12/24 passes (50%) for 87 yards (3.6 YPA), two TDs, and one INT against the Bears three weeks ago.
Justin Jefferson pulled out 6/58 receiving on 11 targets without Cousins out of the lineup, which gives him 11+ FP in 15-of-16 games this season. He came through with 4/47/1 receiving against the Bears three weeks ago despite Cousins throwing for fewer than 100 yards.
K.J. Osborn has reached 14+ FP in four of his five games with Thielen out or ailing since Week 13, and he’s turned into a mini-Thielen with four touchdowns in that span. His only down game in that stretch happened to come against the Bears in Week 15 when he caught all three of his targets for 21 yards.
Tyler Conklin saw a season-high nine targets playing with Mannion last week, turning those looks into 5/47 receiving. He has 4+ catches and 40+ receiving yards in two straight games, but he flopped against the Bears three weeks ago with just a seven-yard catch on three targets.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28 (8th)
Plays per game: 65.6 (8th)
Pass: 61.7% (11th) | Run: 38.3% (22nd)
Pace: 28.2 (10th)
Plays per game: 63.0 (16th)
Pass: 60.2% (17th) | Run: 39.8% (16th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
I was almost excited about this game… but that was until Justin Fields (COVID) was put in the league’s protocols. There aren’t many matchups with high-scoring appeal and this could still be one between these two fast-paced offenses. This is the fourth-best game in the pace / plays model for the season finale, which probably just speaks to the overall weakness of this slate honestly.
The Vikings and HC Mike Zimmer say they are going to play their starters here despite them being out of the playoff hunt and I believe them. This staff is trying to save their jobs (although it may already be futile). With Kirk Cousins back, the Vikings are implied to score 25 points against the Bears – which is the seventh-highest team total behind the Chargers (26.25). With Fields unlikely to play, we’ll see Andy Dalton under center again.
The Bears offense has been borderline inept with Dalton at quarterback as they’ve scored either a FG or TD on just 29.1% of their possessions in Dalton’s four starts. Keep in mind, two of those games came against the lowly Lions and Giants. Yikes. We need Chicago to show up here for this game to really be a shootout and it’s impossible to have any confidence in that, unless Fields clears COVID protocol.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Minnesota’s skill positions are so top-heavy that it’s hard to come up with something particularly interesting to say, especially when we’re dealing with the potential for defensive struggles. And a defensive struggle this game will be. It took these teams over 39 minutes of gameplay in Week 15 to finally score it’s 14th combined point, and the very last second to land on the game’s total of 26 points. In spite of the Vikings taking the 17-9 victory, Chicago very nearly doubled-up Minnesota in total yardage (370 vs. 193). The Bears held Kirk Cousins to 3.6 YPA, Dalvin Cook to 3.2 YPC, and Justin Jefferson to his second-lowest yardage total of the season (47).
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Bears were in a position to give their fans at least something to watch in what is almost certainly the final game of Matt Nagy’s much-maligned tenure as the Bears’ head coach. QB Justin Fields was expected to start the season finale, after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.
But that’s now up in the air, because nothing can go right for the Bears this year! It’s been a bizarre rookie season for Fields.
The Bears just placed Justin Fields on the reserve/COVID-19 list.— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) January 6, 2022
Whoever starts at QB for Chicago — Fields or Andy Dalton, presumably — will try to get the ball to Darnell Mooney, who is 71 yards shy of 1000 receiving on the season. Mostly, the ball will go to David Montgomery.
The Vikings activated QB Kirk Cousins from the COVID-19 list and he will start this week. It’s hard to imagine the Vikings upgrading at QB this off-season, and we saw with Sean Mannion’s disastrous start last week that a team can do a lot, lot worse than Cousins. But Cousins being unavailable for what was a must-win game for Minnesota really underscored some fans’ frustrations.
Kirk Cousins says he wants to finish his career with the #Vikings. He'll get to at least finish this season on Sunday before an offseason with many questions about the franchise's direction. https://t.co/3HK76Vh7yB— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) January 6, 2022
For all Cousins’ faults, and his big contract (he’s owed $45 million in 2022), there would definitely be a market for him this off-season. That’s simply the nature of the QB position. For now, he’s going to try to play well and convince the Vikings to keep him, while coach Mike Zimmer and his staff are beyond motivated to do the same.