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Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by January 9, 2022
Justin Fields

The only intrigue surrounding Sunday’s NFC North clash between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears are the head coaches. Both Matt Nagy and Mike Zimmer could be coaching their final games for their respective teams at U.S. Bank Stadium.

If you ask the majority of both fan bases, they’d probably agree that it’s time for a change at the top. The Bears have wavered between mediocre and dreadful ever since Nagy’s first season. Meanwhile, the Vikings have disappointed this season despite having a pretty talented roster.

Which team should we back in their coach’s swan song? Let’s break it down.

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  • Opening line: Minnesota -5.5
  • Current line: Minnesota -5.5
  • Total: 44

Has Minnesota packed it in? 

The Vikings saw their season end in primetime at the hands of the Packers in a frigid night at Lambeau Field. Minnesota was forced to start the inept Sean Mannion under center after the unvaccinated Kirk Cousins caught COVID-19.

While watching that game last Sunday night, it felt like Minnesota had given up. And I’m curious to see what their effort level will be in a meaningless game against an inferior team.

Cousins will be back, which definitely helps. But he struggled mightily in the first meeting between these teams, completing just 12 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Bears should have won first meeting 

The Bears are a perfectly mediocre team. They can beat the teams beneath them, like the New York Giants last week. But they can’t quite match up to higher competition.

But Chicago was the better team at Soldier Field in the first meeting between these teams on December 20th. The Bears out-gained the Vikings 370-193. They nearly doubled them in first downs and averaged 5.3 yards per play while holding Minnesota to 3.2 yards per play.

But like the Bears do, they barfed all over themselves. They turned the ball over three times, went 1-for-5 in the red zone (with the only score coming in garbage time), and committed nine penalties for 91 yards.

Chicago also did a great job defending Dalvin Cook, holding him to just 89 yards on 28 carries. Keeping Cook at bay is the key to shutting down the Vikings offense, as Cousins isn’t at all effective off play-action if the run game isn’t working.

However, Chicago’s quarterback carousel continues, as Andy Dalton will be back under center for the Bears in the season finale. Rookie Justin Fields started in the first meeting between the Bears and Vikings but will miss this game due to COVID-19.

Bottom Line 

As with a lot of the games on the Week 18 slate, the most important part of the handicap is gauging motivation. The Bears looked good last week against a miserable Giants team, but at least they appeared to be trying.

I’m not sure the same can be said about the Vikings, who have nothing to play for and may have given up on both their coach and quarterback. After Cousins missed last week’s pivotal game, I’d be curious to see how engaged his offensive teammates will be.

Backing Andy Dalton is not something I recommend strongly. But in a game where motivation will matter, I’ll lean to the side of the team getting points.

The pick: Chicago +5.5

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