The Complete Guide to Bears vs. Vikings
Bears vs. Vikings kicks off Monday night. The Bears are currently 3.5-point home underdogs. Monday night’s weather forecast shows temperatures in the mid-1930s with a 1% chance of rain and winds at 10 MPH. The Vikings come off a Week 14 victory Thursday night against the Steelers, while the Bears suffered a road loss Sunday night against the Packers. It was the Bears’ seventh loss in the last eight games.
Betting lines Bear vs Vikings
In the graph above, I noted the spread and the projected spreads according to my two models, PFF, and the two models of 538 for Bears vs Vikings. Why use two models from the same source? I like to use multiple models to overlap. The more models that say something is a good bet, the more assurances you get. That’s what we all, the players, want from insurance.
Bears vs Vikings cover story
In the graph, the blue line represents the expected point differential based on the spread. For example, if the spread is CHI +7, the blue line will have a data point at -7, since the Bears are expected to lose by seven. The orange line represents the actual result. Therefore, any data point above the blue line means bears covered the gap and any data point below the blue line means bears did not cover.
During Matt Nagy’s tenure as head coach of the Bears, he set an ATS record of 28-35. As an underdog, Nagy’s teams score 14-20 ATS (41%; NFL average is 54%). At home, his teams are 15-16 ATS (48%; NFL average is 47%). Combining these two factors, Nagy’s teams are 6-9 ATS as a domestic dog. This represents a coverage rate of 40%, compared to the league’s average coverage rate of 51%.
“Good coaches win. The great coaches cover the spread.
Since 2018, Mike Zimmer and the Vikings have set an ATS record of 31-31-1. As the favorites, they’re 17-19-1 ATS (47%; NFL average is 46%). On the road, they’re 17-16 ATS (52%; NFL average is 54%). Combining these two factors, the Vikings have a 7-6 ATS record as a road favorite since 2018. This represents a 54% coverage rate, compared to a league average coverage rate of 49%.
Bears vs Vikings team stats
The final ranking for each unit is the average of the DVOA, EPA per game (10% win probability filter), and success rate.
DVOA is a metric developed by Football Outsiders that measures a team’s effectiveness by comparing the success of each game to the league average based on the situation and the opponent.
Meanwhile, EPA per Play is a statistic that aims to measure the value of individual games in terms of points using historical data for down, distance, and field position.
Finally, the success rate measures the percentage of games that generate a positive EPA in attack or a negative EPA in defense.
Overview of the Viking Offensive
Play caller: Klint Kubiak
Staff groups: RB-TE [WR]
- 1-1 [3WR]: 45% (Success rate = 73%)
- 2-1 [2WR]: 19% (Success rate = 40%)
- 1-2 [2WR]: 14% (Success rate = 47%)
% read action: 26.3% (16th)
Screen %: 10.4% (19th)
Down Conversion Rate: 38.5% (19th)
TD Red Zone Conversion Rate: 65.1% (6th)
Explosive Play / Pass / Execution Rate: 11% (4th) / 10% (6th) / 13% (6th)
Goal %: 42% (11th)
Turnover %: 7.3% (3rd lowest)
In attack, the Vikings are very balanced. Despite their conservative and old-school tendencies, they produced explosive plays in both the passing game and the running game. On the court, Dalvin Cook is one of the NFL’s most explosive running backs. Vikings like to use a head blocker in the form of a fullback and will sometimes get an extra offensive lineman in the mix. Of course, Klint Kubiak (son of Gary Kubiak) is familiar with his father’s wide area racing program, and the playing action moves away from those area concepts.
In the passing game, the unit is led by quarterback Kirk Cousins. He generally takes good care of football, and on paper he generally looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. However, Cousins has polarized over the years with a bad reputation in the bright light. The Vikings take Cousins out of the pocket during boot actions out of wide zone racing looks. They like to pair game start dropbacks with wheel routes that can burn defenders if they bite while running.
Justin Jefferson is one of the NFL’s top wide receivers and will be a key clash with Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson. The passing game usually goes through Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Expect both players to be moved around the line of scrimmage to create lags throughout the match. One concept Vikings like to throw against defenses with these two is route “77”. In this concept, they will perform two half-corner turn routes. One route will go high, while the other will go down, and the Vikings want to force the defender to choose high or low while emphasizing safety vertically.
The “Pos. Rank” uses several position-specific statistics to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, Justin Jefferson ranks second out of 96 qualified wide receivers. This gives a percentile of 98% (MATH = 1 – (2/96)). In the far right column, you can see the statistics used to generate the ranking.
Offensive Line stats represent the entire unit, rather than any individual player. I believe it is just too subjective of a statistic to statistically blame individuals without knowing their assignments.
Defensive overview of the Vikings
Contact person: Mike Zimmer (HC)
DC: Andre Patterson / Adam Zimmer
% flash : 25.6% (13th)
Down Conversion Rate: 35.6% (5th)
TD Red Zone Conversion Rate: 67.5% (25th)
Explosive Success / Execution Rate: 10% (27th) / 10% (8th)
Goal %: 40% (21st)
Turnover%: 10.7% (20th highest)
The Vikings have struggled to contain the running game this season as they allowed the eighth highest rate of explosive runs. Despite their talent in the middle (defensive plates Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson), the Vikings struggled to prevent their opponents from winning 5-9 on floor. They have had more difficulty running to the perimeter as they have lost several EDGE players this season. Minnesota started playing Sheldon Richardson (usually a 3T) on the EDGE to help fill in the gaps in the position.
In the air, the Vikings have been much better at limiting explosive games, where they rank eighth in the NFL. However, they have shown a penchant for dropping a lot of catches in the middle. Their third-place defense ranks fifth in the NFL, but they struggled with red zone saves. Despite injuries at the EDGE post, the Vikings still sit number one in the NFL with 41 sacks. It’s a unit that likes to bring warmth, ranking 13th in blitz rate. They are counting on security veterans Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods to stay on course on defense.
Zimmer loves to blitz and bluff his linebackers in the A spreads. Both could come for the quarterback, maybe only one will come, or both could fall into cover. This places an emphasis on protections, which makes line calls and the strength of the pass protection award of the utmost importance. Due to variations, running backs MUST be present and aware of their pass protection responsibilities. Coverage is dense, relying most on Cover 3 and Cover 3 matches, which are a mix of Cover 1 and Cover 3.
The “Pos. Rank” uses several position-specific statistics to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, Eric Kendricks ranks fourth out of 79 qualified linebackers. This gives a percentile of 95% (MATH = 1 – (4/79)). In the far right column, you can see the statistics used to generate the ranking.
Bear vs Vikings Injury Report
COVID throws another wrench in NFL plans. And unfortunately the Bears are no exception, but maybe the Vikings are.
Summary Bear vs. Vikings
On Monday night, Bears vs. Vikings will have the eyes of the NFL world. I could do without more Bears prime-time games this season. I expect Minnesota to be able to move the ball efficiently throughout this game, and the Bears will need Justin Fields to match the Vikings’ production. Minnesota’s defense is sensitive, and with a decent game plan Chicago should be able to achieve some success.
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