Monday Night Football gives us an NFC North battle between the 3-5 Vikings and the 5-4 Bears. Can Kirk Cousins get his first win on Monday Night Football? Or will the Bears hand him another loss?  

Week 10 Prime Time Picks: Vikings (-3.5) vs Bears (+155) O/U 44 – All lines via DraftKings

Prime Time Picks: 10-8

Two Teams with Opposite Streaks 

After starting the season 0-5, the Vikings have rattled off three wins in a row.  This will be their third division game in a row as well.  They beat the Packers at Lambeau two weeks ago 28-22, and took care of business against the Lions at home last week 34-20.  For Chicago, they got off to a hot start, winning five of their first six contests, but have struggled recently, losing three in a row.  They now sit at 5-4, and are in desperate need of a win.

Kirk Cousins’ Monday Night Struggles

Anytime Kirk Cousins plays in a prime time game, it is inevitable that his record is brought up.  For his career, Cousins is 7-16 in prime time games (games starting after 7 pm), and is 0-9 on Monday Night Football.  For whatever reason, he just hasn’t been able to get in the win column on MNF, and will look to do so tonight on the road against Chicago.

Dalvin Cook Looks to Stay Hot

The good news for Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense is that Dalvin Cook is on fire.  In the last two games, Cook has ran the ball 52 times for 369 yards and 5 touchdowns.  He also added a receiving touchdown two weeks ago against the Packers, totaling four scores in that game alone.  Cook has been able to steadily gash opposing defenses, and in those two games, he was able to run for 10+ yards a staggering 11 times, while having just seven runs for zero or negative yards.  Cook is leading the NFL in touchdowns (12), yards per game (122.6), and is 3rd in yards per carry at 6.0.  He is also sure to protect the ball, fumbling just once in 144 carries.  The Vikings will no doubt be sure to utilize Cook heavily tonight against the Bears.

Cook vs Bears Defense

As hot as Dalvin Cook has been in recent weeks, the Bears defense poses a big challenge for him.  In three games against Chicago in Cook’s career, he only has 86 rushing yards total.  The Bears have been able to limit him to 12, 39, and 35 rushing yards in those three games, with the Bears winning all three.  Granted, Cook is sure to get more carries than he had in those three games (9, 11, 14), but his YPC average for those matchups were all below 3.6.  The Bears have a solid rushing defense, but will need to step it up tonight against Cook.  This season, Chicago is giving up 116.9 yards per game on the ground, which is 14th in the league.  They have been good up front, as they’ve stopped the 12th-most opponent rush attempts at or behind the line. They have also allowed conversions in power situations (third or fourth down with two or fewer yards to go) at the ninth-lowest rate in the league.

Foles Needs a Clean Pocket

The Bears have the 3rd-worst scoring offense in the league, scoring a measly 19.8 points per game.  QB Nick Foles can be effective at times, but is sensitive under pressure.  If the Bears offensive line is able to give Foles a clean pocket and time to throw, he has a chance to be successful against a weak Vikings secondary that is 30th in the league.  They are giving up 287.9 yards per game, and 29.3 points per game.  If ever there was a game for Foles to bounce back and have a big night, it is tonight against Minnesota.

Bears Have Had Success Against the Vikings 

The Bears have swept the season series with the Vikings in the two previous seasons.  They have won five of the last eight meetings, and three of the last four at Solider Field.  Furthermore, since 2003, the Bears are 14-3 ATS vs Minnesota when playing at Soldier Field.  

PREDICTION

These teams are heading in opposite directions.  Minnesota has won three in a row, and Chicago has lost three in a row.  BUT, I think there is hope for the Bears.  Dalvin Cook has to come back down to Earth sometime, and the Bears have the defense to make that happen.  Cook may have gone for over 200 yards last week, but that was against one of the worst rushing defenses in the league in Detroit (30th).  If the Bears can even limit Cook just a little bit and make Cousins make plays downfield, it would make the road to success much harder for Minnesota.  Cousins is 0-9 on MNF, and now goes on the road against a divisional opponent with a good defense.  The Bears have the defense to keep this one close, and Minnesota’s weak passing defense leaves some opportunity for Foles.  On top of that, Matt Nagy is no longer calling plays. Nagy has ceding play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, so hopefully that will inject some energy into the aerial attack. Divisional road games are never easy, and divisional home underdogs are 13-4 ATS this season. I think this will be a low-scoring game, which I think benefits Chicago.  It may not be pretty, but I’m taking the Bears to keep this one close.

Bears +3.5

@stadium_times

Title Photo: Joel Bielawa

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