Monday Night Football

Monday Night Football

What bettors need to know: Bears at Vikings
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Taming the beast

The Bears’ plan for beating Minnesota is simple. Stop running back Adrian Peterson and force the Vikings to use second-year quarterback Tavaris Jackson. But that’s easier said than done, especially considering the number of hurt Chicago defensive tackles.

The Bears will be without DT Tommie Harris due to his knee injury, while nose tackle Darwin Walker is also a doubt. It is expected that Israel Idonije and Babatunde Oshinowo will share time, but neither has started yet this year.

Peterson has already destroyed the Chicago defense once this season. He ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns in Minnesota’s 34-31 win at Soldier Field in October.

''We are embarrassed,'' defensive coordinator Bob Babich told the Chicago Sun-Times this week in reference to Peterson’s performance. ''I mean, it was a disappointment. He's going to break some tackles, but we need to make sure we have enough people there.''

Chicago has one of the worst rush defenses in the league. It is allowing 123.6 yards per game. Its failure is a major reason why the Bears are 5-8. On Monday, that rush defense is playing for pride.

''Babich basically is telling us we're going to stop the run,'' free safety Danieal Manning told the Sun-Times. ''However that is, with nine in the box or eight, we're going to stop the run.”

Peterson, meanwhile, comes into this contest on the back of his worst performance. He ran for just three yards on 14 attempts in last week’s win over San Francisco.

“You just know that these guys are going to be ready to come in and stop the run,” he told the Winona Daily News over the weekend. “I’m just preparing myself well in practice and just really being really detailed in my footwork and being patient and letting the game come to me. That’s what I’m focusing on all week.”

Second chance for Orton

It’s not often that you get a second chance in the NFL, but that’s exactly what Kyle Orton is receiving. With Rex Grossman injured, the Bears will turn to their third-string quarterback on Monday night.

Orton is no stranger to the starting role in Chicago. He went 10-5 in 15 games under center in 2005, but completed just 51.6 percent of his passes and had more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (nine). The Bears scaled back their pass offense and kept the ball on the ground for most of that season.

"We won't think twice about, ‘Well, we want to call this but we can't,’” offensive coordinator Ron Turner told The Associated Press when asked if they would limit his input. "Maybe his rookie year, we did do that. Right now, if we think it's good and we want to call it, we're going to call it."

Coach Lovie Smith’s decision to use Orton instead of veteran Brian Griese was seen by many as an admission that the season is over, but Smith is adamant that his choice was based on merit.

“We're not completely out of (the playoffs)," Smith said. "That's not a true statement to start off with. As far as any of that type of talk, we're playing Minnesota. Big game for us. We need to get a win. It's simple as that."

The opposition is not taking Orton lightly either. Vikings coach Brad Childress drew comparisons between Orton and one of the league’s top QBs this week.

“I'd equate him to a guy like Tony Romo, who sat in the back of the meeting room forever and was a sponge," Childress said. "Only this guy was able to get in for a full year and operate that offense, and then sit back here for a couple of years. I imagine he knows where all the bones are buried, from who's the first read to who's the last read."

Innocent until proven guilty

Vikings safety Dwight Smith is expected to feature against the Bears despite a misdemeanor citation this week for marijuana possession. His coach, Brad Childress, says he will not hand down any punishment until he gets all the details.

“I’m just going with the fact that this is under investigation,” Childress told Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I’m going to get all the facts before I pass judgement on him.”

Asked if he expected Smith to play on Monday, Childress said: “It’s the weekend, so I’ll have to go up and see what the phone list looks like. But I’d anticipate him playing, yes.”

According to the police report, Smith’s vehicle was pulled over for impeding traffic at an intersection. An officer “smelled the strong odor” of the drug as he approached the car. Smith then reportedly told the officer “he had just got done smoking some marijuana.”

Defensive tackle Pat William tried to downplay the situation. "Ain't nothing," he said. "It's just people trying to get in our locker room. We ain't worried about that. We're just all focused on the Chicago Bears."

Smith could face a suspension from the NFLbecause he has been in trouble before, although that possibility is unlikely this season. He was cited for indecent conduct with a woman in 2006 and was sidelined for the season opener. He was also benched for the first two games this season for unspecified disciplinary reasons.

Smith has four interceptions, 31 tackles and one forced fumble in 11 games this season.

Head to head

The Vikings have covered the spread in three of their last four games against the Bears. The home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings, while the Bears are 1-4 ATS in their last five games in Minnesota.

Chicago has a 4-9-0 ATS record this season. The Vikings are 7-4-2. 

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Re: Monday Night Football

Chicago (5-8 SU, 4-9 ATS) at Minnesota (7-6 SU, 7-4-2 ATS)

The Vikings look to complete the season sweep of the Bears and stay in control of a wild-card playoff spot when they host their NFC North rivals in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Minnesota is riding a four-game SU and ATS winning streak following last week’s 27-7 rout of the 49ers as an 8½-point road chalk. Since getting shutout 34-0 at Green Bay on Nov. 11, the Vikings have averaged 34.8 points per game in their last four, tallying at least 27 in every contest.

Lovie Smith’s Bears have dropped three of their last four (1-3 ATS) and have virtually been eliminated from playoff contention. Chicago held Washington to a season-low 31 yards rushing 11 days ago, but still lost 24-16 as three-point road ‘dogs. Adding injury to insult, Bears QB Rex Grossman suffered a season-ending knee injury in the loss.

The straight-up winner is 11-0-2 ATS in Minnesota’s 13 contests this season, including 10-0 ATS in the last 10 and 6-0 ATS at home. Also, the winner has cashed in 12 of Chicago’s 13 games.

Minnesota rode the legs of rookie running back Adrian Peterson (224 rushing yards, 3 TDs) to a last-second 34-31 upset win over the Bears back on Oct. 14, prevailing as a 4½-point underdog. Chicago had tied the game on an 81-yard reception by the electrifying Devin Hester, but Peterson returned the ensuing kickoff into Bears territory, and Ryan Longwell kicked a career-long 55-yard field goal as time expired to win it.

Despite that defeat, the Bears are 5-3 ATS in the last eight head-to-head matchups in this rivalry. In last year’s meeting in the Metrodome, Chicago scored a 19-16 win, but came up just short as a 3½-point road chalk. Still, the straight-up winner is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 series meetings.

Thanks in large part to Peterson, whose 224-yard performance at Chicago was the most rushing yards ever allowed in the Bears’ 88-year history, Minnesota leads the NFL in rushing at 172.2 yards per game. Meanwhile, despite last week’s effort in shutting down Washington’s rushing attack, the Bears’ once-stout defense still ranks 24th in the NFL against the run, allowing 123.2 rushing yards per contest.

Chicago is averaging just 19.5 points per game overall and has been limited to exactly 16 points in its last two outings. Also, the Bears have followed up a 3-0 SU and ATS road winning streak with back-to-back SU and ATS losses on the highway, falling to the Redskins last week and the Seahawks a month ago (30-23).

Minnesota has won three straight home games by margins of 18, 7 and 32 points, scoring 35, 29 and 42 points in those victories. For the season, the Vikes are 4-2 SU and ATS at home, averaging 27 ppg.

The Vikings have covered the number in 11 of their last 16 games against NFC North Division rivals.

The over is 20-6-1 in Chicago’s last 27 against NFC foes and 6-2-1 in its last nine divisional games. Also, for the Vikings, the over is on runs of 7-3 overall, 5-1 at home this season, 7-3-2 against divisional rivals and 3-1 against the Bears.

ATS ADVANTAGE: MINNESOTA and OVER

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Bears send Orton against surging Vikings

- So much for the Grossman vs. Griese debate. Kyle Orton is expected to start for the Bears as they visit Minnesota, which has romped to four straight victories (and covers). The Vikes lead the league in home rushing output at more than 200 YPG and the Bears defense needs to slow that down to have any chance in this NFC North battle.

Oddsmakers currently have the Vikings listed as 11-point favorites versus the Bears, while the game's total is sitting at 43.

The Bears were defeated 24-16 by the Redskins last time out, as 3-point underdogs. The 40 points just made it OVER the posted total of 39.

Bernard Berrian caught seven passes for 91 yards in the loss for Chicago. Brian Griese completed 27-of-45 passes for 295 yards with two TD's for the injured Rex Grossman.

The Vikings defeated San Francisco 27-7 as an 8.5-point favorite in Week 14. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (39).

Chester Taylor rushed for 101 yards with a touchdown on eight carries for Minnesota, while Tarvaris Jackson completed 16-of-25 passes for 163 yards with a touchdown.

Current streak:
Chicago has lost 2 straight games.
Minnesota has won 4 straight games.

Team records:
Chicago: 5-8 SU, 4-9 ATS
Minnesota: 7-6 SU, 7-4-2 ATS

Chicago most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on turf are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 5-5
When playing within the division are 6-4

Minnesota most recently:
When playing in December are 4-6
When playing on turf are 5-5
After being outgained are 4-6
When playing within the division are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
Chicago is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing Minnesota
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Chicago's last 6 games on the road
Chicago is 10-5 SU in its last 15 games on the road
Chicago is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Minnesota's last 5 games at home
Minnesota is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Minnesota is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Chicago

Next up:
Chicago home to Green Bay, Sunday, December 23
Minnesota home to Washington, Sunday, December 23

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Game Preview for Bears vs Vikings

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Vikings will try to maintain their high ground in the NFC Wild Card race on Monday night, when they welcome the division rival Chicago Bears to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to cap off Week 15.

Minnesota, once 3-6 and left for dead by most NFL observers, has thrust itself into the postseason picture by going on an impressive four-game winning streak.

Behind the rushing of rookie Adrian Peterson and the trusty Chester Taylor, the continued maturation of second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, and the work of a defense that is No. 1 in the NFL against the run, the Vikings have ripped off consecutive wins over the Raiders (29-22), Giants (41-17), Lions (42-10), and 49ers (27-7).

The win streak is the longest for the club since 2005, when Mike Tice's final team took six in a row en route to a 9-7 finish.

Looking to halt the Vikes' current winning run will be the Bears, the reigning NFC Champions who find themselves on the outer fringes of the playoff race in what has been a disappointing 2007 to date.

Since raising hopes with a 37-34 come-from-behind win in overtime against the Broncos in Week 12, Chicago has dropped consecutive contests to the Giants (21-16) and Redskins (24-16) to clinch its first non-winning season since 2004.

Barring anything unforeseen, the Bears will become the sixth Super Bowl runner-up in the last seven years to miss the postseason one year after reaching the game's ultimate stage.

SERIES HISTORY

The Vikings lead the regular season series with the Bears, which dates back to 1961, by a 49-41-2 count, and were 34-31 winners when the teams met at Soldier Field in Week 6. Kicker Ryan Longwell's 55-yard field goal at the final gun lifted Minnesota to the win. Chicago swept last year's home-and-home, scoring a 19-16 road win in Week 3 and a 23-13 triumph at Soldier Field in Week 13. Minnesota's most recent home win in the series came in Week 17 of the 2005 campaign, a 34-10 triumph which came when Chicago rested most of its starters in preparation for the playoffs.

The clubs have also met once in the postseason, a 35-18 Chicago road win in a 1994 NFC First-Round Playoff tilt.

Bears head coach Lovie Smith is 4-3 against the Vikings as a head coach, while Minnesota's Brad Childress is 1-2 against both Smith and the Bears as a head man.

WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL

Chicago will make a change under center this week, as third-year-pro Kyle Orton will see his first meaningful action since the 2005 season. A knee injury to starter Rex Grossman in last week's loss to Washington, coupled with the general inconsistency of backup Brian Griese, motivated the move to open with Orton. The Purdue product last played in 2005, when he went 10-5 with nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 59.7 passer rating in 15 starts for the Bears. The strong-armed signal-caller will try to breathe life into a passing attack that has been a strength at times but has also been responsible for a bloated 19 interceptions. Wideouts Bernard Berrian (64 receptions, 4 TD), Muhsin Muhammad (35 receptions, 3 TD), and Devin Hester (14 receptions, 1 TD) will be Orton's top targets on the outside, with tight ends Desmond Clark (41 receptions, 3 TD) and Greg Olsen (34 receptions, 2 TD) doing most of their work between the hashes. The Bears running game has been non-existent for most of the year, and ranks dead last in the league in yards per carry (3.18) as Week 15 begins. The "other" Adrian Peterson (291 rushing yards, 2 TD, 41 receptions) has been a decent threat, however, going for 279 scrimmage yards in his past three games combined.

In terms of its strength and weaknesses, the Vikings defense is not difficult to figure out. Minnesota comes into Week 15 ranked first in the league against the run (70.7 yards per game) and last versus the pass (273.3 yards per game), though Orton will have to be somewhat careful in working against a Vikings "D" that has a league-best six interceptions for touchdowns this year. The focus of the defensive group comes up front, where tackles Kevin Williams (28 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INT) and Pat Williams (54 tackles, 2 sacks) are each having Pro Bowl-worthy seasons and have enabled linebackers E.J. Henderson (98 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and Chad Greenway (83 tackles, 2 INT) to have a big year playing behind them. Kevin Williams opened the scoring against the 49ers last week with an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown, while Pat Williams contributed five tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery to the proceedings. Safeties Dwight Smith (40 tackles, 4 INT) and Darren Sharper (50 tackles, 3 INT) have combined for exactly half of the club's 14 interceptions on the year, and cornerback Antoine Winfield (61 tackles, 1 INT) is versatile as both a run-stopper and cover man. The pass rush took a hit when top sack man Ray Edwards (30 tackles, 5 sacks) was suspended before last week's game for violating the NFL steroid policy. In his stead, former first-round pick Kenechi Udeze (30 tackles, 4 sacks) and rookie Brian Robison (20 tackles, 4.5 sacks) will have to pick up their play.

WHEN THE VIKINGS HAVE THE BALL

It had to be encouraging to Minnesota and its fans to see the Vikings roll over the 49ers despite the worst outing of the year for rookie phenom Adrian Peterson (1200 rushing yards, 16 receptions, 11 TD). Peterson was held to three yards on 14 carries in San Francisco, surrendering his NFL rushing lead in the process. But Chester Taylor (716 rushing yards, 7 TD, 20 receptions), who came through when Peterson was injured earlier in the season, picked up the slack with eight carries for 101 yards, including a dazzling 84-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Both backs will continue to garner carries, though Peterson, who rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears back in Week 6, should see a bulk of the work. The current Minnesota passing game doesn't evoke images of Randall Cunningham throwing to Cris Carter and Randy Moss, but Jackson (1267 passing yards, 6 TD, 7 INT) has been extremely efficient during the team's winning streak. The second-year man is a combined 61-of-83 (73.5 percent) passing for 667 yards with four touchdowns and two INTs in his last four games combined. Bobby Wade (40 receptions, 1 TD) and Sidney Rice (30 receptions, 4 TD) have been the team's most consistent targets this year, and ex-Packer Robert Ferguson (21 receptions, 1 TD) added value by catching four balls for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Niners last Sunday.

The most disappointing element of the Bears' poor season has been the work of a once-proud defense, one that has gone from feared status around the league to an overall rank of 29th (355.1 yards per game) this year. Chicago comes off a performance in which it allowed 324 yards through the air to a mediocre Redskins passing game, including 224 yards to Washington backup Todd Collins, who hadn't thrown a pass since 2004. The secondary, led by cornerback Charles Tillman (57 tackles, 2 INT) and safeties Adam Archuleta (58 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT) and Danieal Manning (57 tackles, 2 INT), has struggled more often than not this year. On Monday, that group will need some help from Adewale Ogunleye (51 tackles, 9 sacks), Mark Anderson (31 tackles, 5 sacks), and a still- productive Bears pass rush. Chicago allowed just 31 rushing yards on 24 carries to the Redskins last week, but enters Week 15 in a depleted state on the interior line. With tackles Anthony Adams (elbow) and Antonio Garay (ankle) recently placed on season-ending injured reserve, and fellow DTs Tommie Harris (30 tackles, 7 sacks) and Darwin Walker (17 tackles, 1 sack) both listed as questionable with knee and elbow injuries, respectively, the Bears signed ex-Ram and former first-round draft choice Jimmy Kennedy to lend some assistance this week. Linebackers Brian Urlacher (101 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INT) and Lance Briggs (88 tackles, 2 sacks) have been Chicago's best run- stoppers this year, but have fallen short of their Pro Bowl-worthy production of 2006.

FANTASY FOCUS

Many of those participating in the fantasy playoffs and either using or playing against the likes of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Taylor will have to wait until after Monday night's game to know whether they've advanced. Peterson remains a must-start given what he did against the Bears last time, and noting the state of Chicago's run-stopping corps, Taylor might be worth starting as well. A playmaking Vikings defense should also get the nod this week, and kicker Ryan Longwell is a worthwhile play.

For the Bears, you might want to think about using Orton if you're desperate, (which you're probably not if you're still tuned in to fantasy football in Week 15), since the Vikings typically give up a lot of yards through the air. For the same reason, guys like Berrian and Clark are worth thinking about. The Bears' Peterson will probably do most of his damage in the passing game, and is best left on the bench along with the beleaguered Chicago defense.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Bears have been in this spot before, playing away from home on primetime TV against a division opponent that has surpassed them in the North hierarchy. Chicago circled the wagons to win that similar tilt against Green Bay back in Week 5, and while the Bears are not the same team they were back then, they still have enough pride to show up in Minnesota. Orton should give the team something of a spark in his first start since '05, and if he avoids mistakes against a Vikings defense that has caused many of them this year, can put Chicago in position to win the game. Ultimately, however, it is hard to envision the Bears' thin front seven containing the Minnesota running game for four quarters, which is why the Vikings will enter Week 16 having won five consecutive games.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vikings 20, Bears 17

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Preview: Bears at Vikings
ASSOCIATED PRESS

After an awful start to the season, the Minnesota Vikings are actually in control of their own playoff destiny for the first time.

The Vikings look to win their fifth straight game and Adrian Peterson tries to bounce back from the worst outing of his brief career when Minnesota hosts the struggling Chicago Bears on Monday night.

The Vikings (7-6) won 27-7 over San Francisco last Sunday to move above .500 for the first time since beating Atlanta in their season opener. Minnesota opened just 2-5 before winning five of its last six games.

"I think if you told our guys a month ago that they were going to be the hunted instead of going hunting, they probably would have asked you, 'Well, how's that going to happen?'" Minnesota coach Brad Childress said.

Since losing to NFC North champion Green Bay 34-0 on Nov. 11, the Vikings are averaging almost 35 points during their four-game winning streak, and have outscored their last three opponents by a combined score of 110-34.

The Vikings, who haven't been to the playoffs since 2004, currently hold the final wild-card spot in the NFC, but are just one game ahead of four teams tied at 6-7.

"We didn't want to get sucker-punched by delusion," Childress said. "If you identify the facts - and the facts are that we need to make sure we take care of business with the team that's up - as long as we deal with the next team we'll be fine.''

Minnesota defeated Chicago 34-31 at Soldier Field on Oct. 14, as Ryan Longwell kicked a career-long 55-yard field goal as time expired, but Peterson was the story of the contest.

In just his fifth career game, Peterson rushed for a then-franchise record 224 yards, the most rushing yards ever surrendered by the Bears in their 88-year history, and scored on runs of 67, 73 and 35 yards. He also set up Longwell's game-winning field goal with a 53-yard kickoff return after Chicago tied the score at 31 with 1:38 left in the fourth.

Three games after that phenomenal performance, the rookie rushed for a NFL record 296 yards in a 35-17 win over San Diego.

Peterson is coming off his worst game, though, as he was held to just three yards on 14 carries. He has fallen 17 yards behind Pittsburgh's Willie Parker for the league lead in rushing yards (1,217), despite missing two games because of right knee injury.

The Bears held Washington to an opponents' season-low 31 yards on the ground in last Thursday's 24-16 loss, but are still 24th in the league against the run (123.2 yards per game).

Chicago (5-8) has lost three of its last four, and is nearly out of the playoff picture after reaching the Super Bowl just 10 months ago.

"With all the expectations we had, with all we believed we could do, it's been bad," defensive end Alex Brown said. "It's been real bad. I know people use the saying, 'Never in a million years.' That million years came this year. It was bad. Everything was bad. Nothing went the way we felt it would go. And it's over. It's pretty much over now."

Beleaguered quarterback Rex Grossman sprained his left knee in the first quarter last Thursday, and will be out for the rest of the season.

Bears coach Lovie Smith is passing over Brian Griese, who replaced Grossman against the Redskins and has made six starts this season, in favor of third-string quarterback Kyle Orton.

As a rookie in 2005, Orton helped lead the Bears to a 10-5 record and a NFC North Division title before being benched for Grossman, who started a regular-season win at Green Bay and then a loss to Carolina in the playoffs.

"I think everybody knows that I've been frustrated and haven't liked my role, but it's what it was and I tried to make the best of it and now my job's just to focus on the future and try to play well and let everything work itself out," Orton said.

Orton finished the 2005 season throwing for 1,869 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 59.7 quarterback rating. He has not played since a 34-10 loss at Minnesota on Jan. 1, 2006. The Bears had already clinched the division, and Orton was just 6-for-14 for 59 yards.

Orton will be joined in the backfield by Chicago's Adrian Peterson, who has taking the place of the injured Cedric Benson.

Peterson had just 35 yards on 17 carries against the Redskins, and the Bears have the second-worst rushing offense in the league (82.0 ypg). Chicago rushed for 83 yards on 24 attempts against Minnesota in October.

The Vikings have the top-ranked run defense in the league (70.7 ypg), and have allowed an average of just 47.6 yards on the ground in their last five home games.

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Re: Monday Night Football

Bears at Vikings
By Judd Hall

Let’s be honest; how many of us thought we’d actually see the Vikings as a legit contender for an NFC playoff berth? Well, I sure as hell didn’t, but who really would have guessed anything right in this crazy little NFL season.

What looked even more surprising to me is the fact Minnesota (7-6 straight up, 7-4-2 against the spread) is a 11-point home favorite with the total coming in at 43. Of course, looks can be deceiving.

The Vikings were able to survive their Week 6 matchup with Chicago (5-8 SU, 4-9 ATS) as 4 ½-point road ‘dogs, 34-3. Minnesota was outgained in this game, 458-444, but that isn’t what is memorable about that Sunday.

That first tilt was Adrian Peterson’s official coming out party to the NFL and the country, rushing 20 times for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Peterson’s scores came on runs of 67, 73 and 35 yards.

The rookie from Oklahoma has gone on to gain 1,200 yards on the ground, just 12 yards shy of the league lead among running backs. And the odds are good that he’ll be able to regain that lead against a Bear defense 123.2 rushing yards per game.

Minnesota should be licking its chops knowing that defensive tackles Tommie Harris (knee) and Darwin Walker (elbow) have not participated in a full practice all week long. That will allow both the running game to get solid footing and help Tavaris Jackson have time to throw the ball, which he’s done pretty well the past three weeks.

Despite the above information, 10 points is still a little too much for me to believe the Vikings will cover.

A reason I believe this is because Kyle Orton is going to be under center for Chicago. Orton guided the Bears to a NFC North title back in 2005 when Rex Grossman was out with an ankle injury for much of that season.

He’ll also get a chance to air the ball out against the Vikings’ secondary, which gave 375 passing yards in the first meeting between these two rivals. I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising that Minnesota is allowing an NFL-worst 273.3 YPG via the air ball in 2007.

As strong as I think the Bears will look throwing the ball, taking them to win outright at plus-400 (bet $100 to win $400) is a little far fetched. Chicago has gone 1-4 SU and ATS in its past five meetings at the Metrodome since 2002.

Minnesota has been a double-digit home “chalk” one time since 2004. The Vikes were 11½-point home favorites against Chicago oddly enough in Week 3 of that season, winning 27-22.

You may also want to take a look at coupling the Bears with the ‘over’ in this matchup. The reason being is the Vikings are 7-7 SU and ATS at home this year, but they’ve also watched the ‘over’ go 8-4-2 in Brad Childress’s two seasons as head coach.

Kick-off for this contest is slated for 8:30 pm EDT with ESPN handling the broadcasting duties.

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Monday Night Football Preview

The Minnesota Vikings will continue their drive for an NFC Wild Card berth when they play host to the floundering Chicago Bears at the Metrodome on Monday Night Football.

Minnesota boosted their postseason chances with a convincing 27-7 road win over the San Francisco 49ers last weekend. And the Vikings got that victory without much help from Adrian Peterson; 'Purple Jesus' rushed for an anemic three yards on 14 carries on that day. Chester Taylor, meanwhile, ran for 101 yards and a TD on his eight attempts.

Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson completed 16-of-25 pass attempts for 163 yards against San Francisco, with one touchdown strike and no interceptions. Jackson hooked up with Robert Ferguson on a scoring play in the second quarter. Kevin Williams picked off Trent Dilfer and went 18 yards for Minnesota's other TD in the win.

Chicago is now six games back of the Packers and two games behind the Vikings in the NFC North with a 5-8 record on the season. The Bears are coming off a 24-16 road loss to the Washington Redskins, and they're now expected to be without starting QB Rex Grossman for the rest of the season; Grossman injured his knee against the Redskins.

Brian Griese stepped in for Grossman last week, completing 27-of-45 pass attempts for 295 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. However, the Bears are going to turn to Kyle Orton on Monday; Orton will be playing for the first time since the 2005 season.

Chicago's Adrian Peterson (aka The Other Adrian Peterson) rushed for just 35 yards on 17 carries against Washington. Bernard Berrian caught seven passes for 91 yards and a third-quarter touchdown in that game, while Robbie Gould booted three field goals in a losing cause. Devin Hester added to his kick-return duties with five catches on the day.

The Bears were listed as 3-point underdogs against the Redskins, so after failing to cover that spread they're now 4-9 ATS on the season. Chicago is also 3-4 against-the-spread on the road so far this year, and they're 2-4 ATS as the underdog. Last week's Bears/Redskins matchup was an OVER result; the Bears are 7-6 on the OVER/UNDER.

Minnesota had been pegged as the underdog against San Francisco, so they're now 7-4-2 ATS on the season. The Vikings are also 4-2 against-the-spread at home, while they're a perfect 4-0 ATS as the favored team. The 49ers' low output turned last Sunday's game into an UNDER result; Minnesota is 7-6 on the OVER/UNDER this year.

The Bears and Vikings met back in Week 6, with Minnesota winning 34-31 on the road. Chicago was pegged as a 4.5-point home favorite in that contest, giving the ATS win to the Vikings as well. The combined score went well OVER the posted total of 35.5 points. Adrian Peterson ran for 224 yards and three scores for Minnesota in that game.

Last season Chicago won both meetings between these two teams, covering a 9-point spread at home on December 3 and failing to cover a 3.5-point spread on the road on September 24. That December game was a slim OVER result (23-13 vs. 34.5), while the 19-16 score in September was a PUSH against the day's posted total of 35 points.

The oddsmakers are favoring the Vikings by a large margin this weekend; Minnesota will have to cover a 10-point spread. The total for the game has been pegged at 43.5 points. Here are the official injury reports for both Chicago and Minnesota for Monday:

Chicago Injuries
Rex Grossman QB Doubtful Week 15 (knee)
Tommie Harris DT Questionable Week 15 (knee)
Nathan Vasher CB Questionable Week 15 (groin)
Darwin Walker DT Questionable Week 15 (elbow)

Minnesota Injuries
Tank Williams S Doubtful Week 15 (knee)
Mike Doss S Questionable Week 15 (hamstring)
Charles Gordon CB Questionable Week 15 (quadricep)
Artis Hicks G Questionable Week 15 (lower back)

The Vikings will play a second straight home game in Week 16, as they'll get a visit from the 'Skins. Chicago will take on Brett Favre and the Packers at Soldier Field next week.

[img]http://www.betjm.com/images/bjm_pick15_site.gif[/img]

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