For obvious reasons, nothing alters a line – or holds it up from being posted at all for days – like the uncertainty of a quarterback playing. That’s where we are yet again with the Minnesota Vikings as they visit the Chicago Bears on Monday night to close out Week 5. Heading into the weekend the Vikings are 3-point NFL betting favorites as most believe starting quarterback Sam Bradford will sit again.
If Bradford were qualified, he’d have the highest quarterback rating in the NFL by a mile at 143.0 as he was magnificent in a Week 1 win over the Saints, completing 84.4 percent of his passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. It might have been the game of the former No. 1 overall pick and Heisman winner’s mediocre career. Alas, Bradford hasn’t played since due to a knee injury and the Vikings continue to be vague about it, simply saying he’s day-to-day. Aren’t we all?
So, it likely will be journeyman backup Case Keenum again. The Vikings are 1-2 under him, with Keenum having a career game in a Week 3 win over Tampa Bay and then playing, well, to expectations in losses to Pittsburgh and, last week, Detroit. That Lions loss was very costly for Minnesota as excellent rookie running back Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending torn ACL. Now the featured role likely will be split between Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.
Monday will be quite a day for sports fans in Chicago as the Cubs host the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS and rookie No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky makes his first NFL start for the Bears. It was a no-brainer decision to bench Mike Glennon as he has thrown five interceptions and lost three fumbles in his four games.
Why make the change now? It gave Trubisky extra time to prepare as the Bears played Thursday night in Week 4 and have the additional day of practice this week. Trubisky, who played well in the preseason, is the first quarterback to make his first career start on Monday Night Football since San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick in 2012. Kaepernick led a blowout of the Bears that Nov. 19 night.
Will Chicago be able to run the ball to take pressure off the rookie? The Bears rank seventh in the NFL in averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Minnesota allows only 3.1 ypc, No. 4 in the NFL. The Chicago defense will be without a key piece in linebacker Danny Trevathan, suspended one game for a big hit on Green Bay’s Davante Adams in Week 4.
These teams split their meetings last year, each winning at home by double digits (if Bradford is out, neither starting QB Monday was involved in those games). Minnesota has won just two of its past 10 visits in Chicago and covered only three of those. The Vikings also don’t love Monday Night Football, going 2-8 ATS in their previous 10. Follow the trends: take Chicago and the points.
October 5, 2017