Recommended Bet: Chicago (-2.5) over Minnesota

by Brady

Minnesota @ Chicago
Vegas: CHI -2.5
DomModel: CHI -9.227
Recommendation: CHI -2.5

Key injuries:
Minnesota Vikings: (week 10 bye)
-WR Stefon Diggs (hip) was INACTIVE week 9. He will play week 11.
-LG Tom Compton (knee) was injured week 7. He was INACTIVE weeks 8 and 9. He was limited in practice, then practiced in full on Friday (11/16). He is QUESTIONABLE.
-LB Anthony Barr (hamstring) was injured week 7 and did not return. He was INACTIVE weeks 8 and 9. He did not practice on Wednesday (11/14), then was limited the rest of the week. He is QUESTIONABLE.
-CB Xavier Rhodes (foot) was injured week 7. He was INACTIVE week 8. He returned week 9, but appeared limited. He will play week 11.
-CB Mike Hughes (torn ACL) is out for the year.
-S Andrew Sendejo (groin) was INACTIVE weeks 6 – 9. He is OUT week 11.

Chicago Bears: 
-RG Kyle Long (foot) was injured week 8. He is expected to be out 6-8 weeks, and is an IR candidate with a designation to return late in the season.
-LB Sam Acho (pectoral) was injured during his week 4 game and is on season ending IR.

Breakdown:
When Minnesota has the ball:
The Vikings offensive problems start with their offensive line, which is one of the worst in the league. In particular in pass protection, they’ve allowed the most pressures of any team in the league. The Vikings have been able to survive this because Cousins was been magnificent under pressure — his 91.5 QB rating is 3rd best in the league. The problem with that is under pressure stats are particularly volatile, and aren’t necessarily an indicator of future performance.

Through the air, Cousins relies almost exclusively on Adam Thielen, Stef Diggs, and TE Kyle Rudolph. The 3 of them combine to make up 66% of the Vikings target share. Thielen has been a monster all year, but is nursing a lowerback/calf injury. Diggs has also been his usual productive self, but he’s coming off of hip injury.

On the ground, the Vikings rank 30th in rushing DVOA. Part of the problem, naturally, comes from the offensive line. The other issue has been the inconsistent health of Dalvin Cook, though he finally appears healthy. Any optimism that things will improve must be weighed against the reality that this is already an rushing attack with real issues.

Chicago’s defense:
Chicago has the best defense in the league by virtually any measure. They’re number 1 in DVOA, and number 1 in PFF’s rankings. They’re just number 1, ok?

It’s not like there’s weaknesses either. Since you aren’t Jon Gruden, I’m sure you’re aware that Khalil Mack is an excellent pass rusher. He’s as healthy as he’s been since the beginning of the season when he was averaging 6 pressures a game. This photo shows the best way to contain Mack:

Image result for khalil mack

Meanwhile, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman are both fantastic up front and against the run. In the defensive backfield, Bryce Callahan and Kyle Fuller are one of the better 1-2 combinations at corner in the game.

They defend every blade of grass.

TL;DR Conclusion: The Vikings offensive problem starts with their offensive line, and they’re going against a now healthy Khalil Mack. They’ve relied heavily on targeting Adam Thielen this year, but he’s a bit banged up. Thielen runs most of his routes out of the slot, where he’ll be matched up against Bryce Callahan, who is one of the better slot corners in the game.

When Chicago has the ball:
This just isn’t an exciting offense. Like, I just don’t want to write about them. The most exciting part about their offense is how much their QB runs, and the little guy out of the backfield taking screen passes to the house from 60 yards. That’s like, all I got. Let’s go real quick because I have to:

-Offensive line: not bad, but struggling a bit since rookie James Daniels replaced Kyle Long week 8
-Running game: Rank 9th in DVOA, Jordon Howard is a fine between the tackles back.
-Receivers: Mostly TE Trey Burton and RB Tarik Cohen, who aren’t even receivers. There’s not a ton of weapons for our boy Mitchy.

Minnesota’s defense:
We can start with the pass rush, which has been a productive unit being lead by Daniel Hunter and Sheldon Richardson, who are both over 30 pressures on the season. Richardson also excels against the run, along with fellow fat man Linval Joseph. Their problem has been in coverage, where Xavier Rhodes and Tre Waynes simply haven’t lived up to their hype this year.

Overall, it’s been a solid defense both against the pass and the run.

TL:DR Conclusion: This matchup bores me. The model likes it, and we’re taking it. So there.

That’s it for now, bitches.

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