NFL Football Betting:  Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears&h=253&w=372&zc=1

It’s a good news/bad news situation for the Chicago Bears. The good news? They don’t have to start Matthew Barkley at quarterback as Jay Cutler has been upgraded to ‘probable’ having sufficiently recovered from his sprained thumb. The bad news? His first game back he’s facing the best defense in football and catching them off their first loss of the season. The Minnesota Vikings are still in control of the NFC North but are no longer undefeated, having lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 21-10 last Sunday. It was the first time all season that the Vikings’ defense has allowed more than 16 points and they’re not likely to be in a charitable mood in Cutler’s first game back.

So what exactly is Cutler getting himself into? Minnesota is tied with Denver for the best pass completion percentage defense in the NFL holding opponents to a 55.7 completion percentage. They’re 4th in passing yards per game allowed (198) but are #1 in opponent passer rating, holding them to a woeful 63.7 rating. In other words, they excel at making sure that opposing quarterbacks play their worst game of the year against them. They’ve also got 19 sacks and are tied for second in the NFL with 9 interceptions. Were that not enough they’re the best total defense in football allowing just 279.5 yards per game and tied with Seattle for the scoring defense lead allowing 14 PPG.

Chicago has been awful this year but a good deal of it hasn’t been their fault due to a spate of injuries. They’ve got 11 players on the IR list and that’s a lot for even a good team to deal with. So is there a case to be made for taking the points with the Bears? Not really. The worst time to catch a good team is coming off a loss and that’s exactly where they are here. The Bears are the better rested side but that’s likely a negligible advantage. Chicago is 1-6 SU/ATS this year, 6-13 ATS at home during the last three years and on a brutal 2-9 ATS run at home. Minnesota has taken the money in five of the last seven head to head meetings. The Bears are in desperate need of a good performance but I’d much rather back the best defense in football coming off a loss.