Will Cousins rise to the occasion?

Minnesota To Secure Playoff Berth By Defeating Bears

The Minnesota Vikings are under huge pressure to reach the playoffs in their battle against their NFC North rivals the Chicago Bears at US Bank Stadium.

The Vikings secured a huge win over the Detroit Lions last time out, although the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory over the Houston Texans matched them stride-for-stride in the bid for the final spot.

Minnesota have been up and down throughout the campaign, although their offense has started to click over the past two matches. Kirk Cousins has found a semblance of form and even connected with Kyle Rudolph for a Hail Mary at Ford Field.

The Vikings’ defense has a lot of talent at all three levels, but has been inconsistent this term. They were able to shut down the Lions and they will be hopeful of maintaining that level against the Bears and into the post-season.

Chicago secured the NFC North crown for the first time since the 2010 campaign. Matt Nagy has made an immediate impact in his first year as head coach. The Bears can still secure the number two seed if the Los Angeles Rams were to slip up, although it would be a shocking turn of events.

The Bears have locked up the number three seed, but will be determined to win out to knock their rivals out of the post-season and avoid a third match-up of the campaign in the Wildcard Round.

Will Cousins rise to the occasion?

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have found their form over the past two weeks to see off the Miami Dolphins and the Lions. There were fears that the club could miss out on the post-season after losing back-to-back games to the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. The decision to fire offensive coordinator John DeFilippo proved to be a wise move, unlocking the potential of the offense, which has been enough to put their last two opponents to the sword.

For all of his doubters, Cousins has performed well enough in his first season with the Vikings. He has 29 touchdowns to 10 interceptions on the campaign, although he has not quite risen to the occasion when it has mattered the most in the clutch. This game will be a true test of his mettle, with the playoffs on the line for Mike Zimmer’s men. Cousins has enough talent around him with Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Rudolph and Dalvin Cook in the ranks. If he is unable to get the job done, eyebrows will be raised about the amount of money the Vikings paid to secure his services.

Minnesota’s defense also needs to be ready for the challenge of Mitchell Trubisky and company. Danielle Hunter has performed brilliantly over the course of the campaign, notching 14.5 sacks. The defensive line has enjoyed another solid term as Everson Griffen, Tom Johnson and Linval Joseph have also been impressive. They have to control the line of scrimmage against the Bears to prevent Trubisky using his mobility. Preventing the Bears quarterback from manoeuvring out of the pocket will be the key to victory for Zimmer’s men.

Chicago Bears

The Bears have produced an impressive campaign to win the NFC North for the first time since the 2010 season. It is the first time the club have returned to the playoffs since their defeat at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Chicago have endured a long-standing drought, which has been broken in Nagy’s first year at the club. The head coach has brought out the best in Trubisky, bringing a life to an offense that looked stagnant under his predecessor John Fox.

Trubisky has made a marked improvement on his rookie season when he appeared lost. The 24-year-old still has a number of issues in his game, but he has taken strides forward, throwing 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions along with 405 yards on the ground and another three scores. Trubisky has been good enough for his team, supported by a solid running game with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen providing effective yards on the ground.

Although the offense has been valuable, the Bears’ success has come through their defense. Khalil Mack has been a force since his move from the Oakland Raiders. He has been arguably the most disruptive player in the NFL this term, collating 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles over the course of the campaign. Chicago have a lot of talent outside of Mack, including Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith. The secondary has also been impressive, handing Nagy and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio a vital advantage over their potential playoff opponents.

Head to Head

Games Played: 115 Minnesota Vikings: 60 Chicago Bears: 53 Tied: 2

The matchups between the two clubs have been fairly even over the years, with Vikings edging the head-to-head battle. The Vikings had won three meetings on the bounce before the clash earlier in the 2018 campaign between the sides.

Cousins had a game to forget on the road at Soldier Field, throwing two poor interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown by Eddie Jackson. Chicago edged the contest 25-20 to take control of the NFC North, which allowed them to take the crown for the first time in eight years.

Betting Options

The Vikings are in desperation mode and need to defeat the Bears to reach the playoffs. They cannot afford to lose out to their rivals, which would allow the Eagles to snatch the last spot in the post-season away from them. Minnesota have been solid enough on home soil outside of a shocking defeat to the Buffalo Bills earlier in the campaign.

They’re 5-2 at US Bank Stadium, losing against the Saints in a close contest. Back them to see off the Bears at odds of -200   with Bovada, with Cousins atoning for his poor performance in the last contest. Expect the Chicago defense to keep it a close game therefore the +3 spread on the visitors is appealing at 888Sport with +138 . The line for total points scored is offered at 40.5 – take the over on that value at -106   with BetOnline.

Tips Summary

Minnesota Vikings To Beat Chicago Bears
Sunday 30th December 2018 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -200

Chicago Bears +3 Spread
Sunday 30th December 2018 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: +138

Over 40.5 Total Points To Be Scored
Sunday 30th December 2018 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -106

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