Written By: Sal Vassallo
Welcome to NFL week 10 of Monday Night Football!!! This week’s matchup sees the Minnesota Vikings (3-5) visit the Chicago Bears (5-4).
This matchup is a story of two teams trending in opposite directions. For the Vikings, they head into their third straight NFC North divisional game and the first two have gone very well for the Vikings as they have knocked off the Packers and Lions in recent weeks after getting off to a 1-5 start. A big reason for their success is star running back, Dalvin Cook. Cook, arguably a top-three running back in all of football, has combined for 369 rushing yards and five touchdowns over the past two weeks while adding 109 yards and a receiving touchdown through the air. It’s been a nice year for Dalvin Cook as he has played in seven games for Minnesota and has at least 130 yards rushing in four of those contests while adding a touchdown in every game. The Vikings are one of few teams whose running back is the main catalyst of their offense, another one that comes to mind is Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans. As for the Chicago Bears, after a surprising 5-1 start, the team has come back to earth in recent weeks after losing three straight. Don’t get it twisted though, Chicago still has a top-ranked defense that is top ten in passing and total yards allowed and 1st in opponents third-down conversion percentage. The Bears offense will simply have to put up more points in order to hang with top offenses such as the Rams, Saints, and Titans (the three teams that have beaten Chicago in recent weeks.)
Looking at the quarterbacks, for Minnesota, QB Kirk Cousins has played decently this season, recording a touchdown pass in all but one game for Minnesota this season. His season completion percentage has been a solid 65.5, but he has thrown for under 260 yards in 6 of Minnesota’s games this season. Now part of that is definitely due to Dalvin Cook’s success and Minnesota being run first, but if the Vikings want a shot at making a deep run, Cousins may want to push the ball down the field a little bit more. It’ll be important for the Vikings to jump out early and be smart with the football in this one against a tough Bears defense who may not give up many opportunities. The softest part of the Bears defense is that run defense (ranked 14th), so look for Minnesota to rely on Dalvin Cook once again after the latter has scored five touchdowns in the last two weeks. However, when his number is called upon, Kirk Cousins must make plays. Now looking at the Bears and Nick Foles, Foles replaced Mitch Trubisky early in the season and has looked ok this season throwing for 1700 yards and a 65.5 completion percentage in seven games. Foles is also coming off his best game as a Bear, throwing for 335 yards and two touchdown passes in a tight loss to the Titans last week. Last week was also the only game where Nick Foles has not thrown an interception, so look for the journeyman and former super bowl champion to try and avoid a turnover. Luckily for Foles, the Vikings defense ranked 30th in pass defense and total yards. He could also be helped out by a little more production from David Montgomery and the Bears backfield.
In terms of injuries for the Bears, star wideout Allen Robinson has been limited with a knee injury he has been dealing with, but he will likely be a go on Monday night. As for the Vikings, rookie corner Cameron Dantzler returned to practice Friday after suffering a concussion. His return to the lineup will be huge for an injury-riddled Minnesota secondary who already have CBs Mike Hughes and Mark Fields on IR. Safety George Lloka is also out for the year with a torn ACL. Tight end Irv Smith missed practice with a groin injury Friday.
Overall, looking at all the matchup, I’d take the Vikings on the road. I think Dalvin Cook stays on his red-hot streak and leads the Vikings past their division rivals. This is gonna be a great division rivalry game and a must-see on Monday Night Football!!!
SCORE PREDICTION: Vikings 26 – Bears 21
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