Vikings-Bears best bets: How will COVID issues impact Chicago?
Had this game not already been scheduled for Monday Night Football, the NFL might have moved it due to the Chicago Bears' COVID-19 issues.
C Jackson Cowart: Justin Jefferson anytime TD (-105)
Justin Jefferson was already a solid bet to score against this Bears secondary, which entered the week allowing the most touchdowns to opposing wide receivers (17). Then came the coronavirus outbreak that particularly hindered Chicago's defensive backfield.
The Bears placed Jaylon Johnson and Tashaun Gipson on the reserve list Sunday, bringing the team's absentees to 14 players and three staff. That includes their entire starting secondary and two reserve DBs.
Jefferson scored four TDs in the last four weeks - including one in each of his past two games - and faces one of the juiciest matchups of his young career. Good luck, Chicago.
Alex Moretto: Cousins over 32.5 pass attempts, Fields over 30.5 pass attempts
There are a lot of ways to attack this game given Chicago will be without seven players in the secondary - including all of its starters.
While I could simply lay the points with the Vikings, I don't think that's the best option. Run-stuffer Akiem Hicks could be back for the Bears at defensive tackle so, as good as Dalvin Cook is, we can expect the Vikings to pass a lot. The return of outstanding Minnesota rookie left tackle Christian Darrisaw will drastically improve pass protection, while a friendly weather forecast will also help our cause.
I expect the Vikings to come out throwing early and often, with or without Adam Thielen active. Kirk Cousins averages 36.7 pass attempts per game this season, while teams have averaged 37 pass attempts against the Vikings over the last eight games. With a negative game script likely, Justin Fields will be busy and should find success against a Vikings defense that's struggled in the secondary despite improving against the run as it gets healthy on the defensive line.
The lines for Cousins' and Fields' props this week haven't adjusted to reflect Chicago's likely game script, and I'll certainly be taking advantage. I also like taking the over on a few receiving props for both teams' top targets. Allen Robinson is out again, meaning it's back to Darnell Mooney Szn, while the Bears don't have any players - or combinations of players, for that matter - capable of slowing Jefferson.
Matt Russell: Bears +6
It's a December road game in Chicago for Cousins and I'm supposed to lay a touchdown with one of prime-time football's biggest historical failures? Hard pass.
The line has climbed throughout the week to +6.5 and you should be able to get +7 if you wait. That's what I'll do as long as more names aren't added to the COVID-19 reserve.
Fields has shown promise when healthy and this might be the Bears' last big game this season. Look for them to actually go for things like "fourth-and-inches" in an attempt to spoil a division rival's season. Meanwhile, the Vikings struggle on the road offensively, especially if Thielen isn't ready to return.