It's Week 15 in the NFL, which means we thankfully get our final primetime viewing of the Chicago Bears as they host the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night. This is the fourth time the 4-9 Bears will get a primetime slot, although, to be fair, Minnesota hasn't exactly been playing must-watch football itself.
However, the Vikes are on the playoff bubble and NFL betting lines have them installed as 5.5-point road favorites for this contest.
Here are our best free Vikings vs. Bears NFL picks and predictions for Monday Night Football on December 20.
Vikings vs Bears odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
This line opened with the Vikings installed as 3.5-point favorites with the Over/Under at 44. With news of the Bears lineup being decimated by illness, the line has grown to Minnesota -5.5, although the total has stayed steady at 44.
Vikings vs Bears predictions
- Prediction: Vikings -5.5 (-110)
- Prediction: Over 44 (-110)
- Best bet: Jefferson longest reception Over 27.5 yards (-113)
Predictions made on 12/17/2021 at 2:10 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Vikings vs Bears game info
• Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
• Date: Monday, December 20, 2021
• Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Vikings at Bears betting preview
Vikings: Adam Thielen WR (Out), Alexander Mattison RB (Out), Danielle Hunter DE (Out), Dede Westbrook WR (Out), Wyatt Davis OG (Out), Chazz Surratt LB (Out), Kellen Mond QB (Out), Everson Griffen DE (Out), Irv Smith Jr. TE (Out).
Bears: Allen Robinson WR (Out), Eddie Jackson S (Out), Jaylon Johnson CB (Out), Tashaun Gipson S (Out), Marquise Goodwin WR (Out), Andy Dalton QB ( Out), Jason Peters T (Out), Larry Borom T (Out), Mario Edwards DL (Out), Xavier Crawford CB (Out), Khyiris Tonga DT (Out), Artie Burns CB (Out), Duke Shelley CB, Khalil Mack ED (Out), Tarik Cohen RB (Out), Danny Trevathon LB (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Over is 8-1 in the Vikings' last nine games on the road. Find more NFL betting trends for Vikings vs. Bears.
Vikings vs Bears picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
It's fair to say that virtually every team in the league has been hit hard by the uptick in COVID-19 cases. However, the Bears are in a particularly ugly spot with 14 players (including six starters) currently on the protocol list. That will make it even tougher for the Bears to snap out of a downward spiral that has seen them go 1-7 SU and ATS in their last eight games.
The Vikings have several players on the COVID-19 list as well, although none are projected starters (Danielle Hunter would ideally start but suffered a season-ending injury last month). They also have more to play for because they're still in the playoff picture with a 6-7 record (7-6 ATS). The Vikings have been very up-and-down this season and are the only team to lose to the woeful Lions (and barely escaped losing against them twice).
That said, they have playmakers on offense, with Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook coming off his best game of the year, second-year receiver Justin Jefferson continuing his ascent into elite status, and quarterback Kirk Cousins once again putting up empty stats against poor opponents. Cousins' lack of success on Monday Night Football is well documented, but let's be real, he still has a passer rating of 90.6 in those 10 MNF games. And how often has he faced a team as bad as the Bears in those contests?
Chicago is a sad shell of a group once known for its fearsome defense. Former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack is done for the year with a foot injury, but even with him, the Bears couldn't stop anyone and now rank 24th in the league in defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders.
They've been even worse on offense where they rank 26th in DVOA and 30th in success rate. Rookie passer Justin Fields has struggled behind a piss-poor line and that line will be in even worse shape with both starting tackles sidelined.
The Vikes have been pathetic at covering the spread against bad teams, but even they should be able to take care of business against an even-worse team wrecked by the pandemic.
Prediction: Vikings -5.5 (-110)
The total for this game is sitting at 44, but despite the Bears struggling on offense, they are fresh off a contest that saw a total of 75 points hit the board and, prior to that, combined for 55 points with Arizona. Chicago has surrendered at least 29 points in five of its last seven games.
Since I've attacked the Bears enough in this preview, let me also throw them a bone...or picnic basket. Guess who leads the NFL in average air yards per attempt? That's right, it's Fields, who at the very least isn't scared to throw the ball downfield.
Although their best wide receiver, Allen Robinson, is one of those guys on the COVID list, it wasn't like they were targeting him anyway, so Fields should barely notice his absence. Especially against a Minnesota defense that's given up at least 28 points in four straight contests. I mean, Jared Goff won NFC Offensive Player of the Week against them! Take the Over.
Prediction: Over 44 (-110)
After setting an NFL rookie record with 1,400 receiving yards last season, Justin Jefferson is on pace for even bigger numbers this year, despite more attention from opposing defenses. Jefferson currently ranks second in the league with 1,288 receiving yards and should feast on a depleted Bears secondary tonight.
Chicago added cornerback Jaylon Johnson and safety Tashaun Gipson to the reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday, which means that its entire starting secondary will be out of action (corner Artie Burns, safety Eddie Jackson, and nickelback Duke Shelley were already on that list).
Jefferson has been the league's best downfield threat, leading the NFL with 22 receptions of 20-plus yards. Even when healthy the Bears have been getting torched deep, ranking dead-last in the NFL in DVOA defense against deep passes. With Jefferson's longest reception set at 27.5 yards, a number he has surpassed in seven of his last 11 games, take the Over.
Pick: Justin Jefferson longest reception Over 27.5 yards (-113)