The Vikings haven’t won in Chicago since 2007, so making them a favorite in today’s game comes with a risk. Vegas gives the Vikings a slight edge on what is supposed to be a warm, sunny afternoon. Here are this week’s Bold Predictions.
Matt Vensel, Vikings beat writer
The Vikings have only picked off four passes through six games, but a date with Smoking Jay Cutler will result in a bump in that statistic. Cutler has actually been somewhat careful with the ball, turning it over once in each of his five starts. But the Vikings will fluster him into three interceptions, including a late pick-six that seals a Vikings victory.
Mark Craig, Vikings beat writer, On The NFL columnist
This feels like one of those bring-everyone-back-to-the-center NFL games. Unless your team has a healthy Hall of Fame quarterback or is so awful that you call it the Browns, generally that team falls when things look really good and rises when things look really bad. Things look really good for the Vikings right now, although if my math is correct, 50 percent of their wins did come against Detroit and Vince Lombardi’s now-unemployed grandson. So the instinct is to predict a fall. However, we also have a longer term bring-everyone-back-to-the-center force at work in that the Bears haven’t lost to the Vikings at Soldier Field since 2007. Hmm. Oh, what the heck. With two competing bring-everyone-back-to-the-center forces at work, I’m going to go with the better team and a coaching staff that’s starting to prove it can win the games it’s supposed to win. Adrian Peterson runs for 150 yards, Teddy Bridgewater has a turnover-free game, the game clocks actually operate from start to finish and the Vikings win by three.
Jim Souhan, columnist
The Vikings’ inability to sack Cutler last year cost them. This year, their improved pass rush and in particular the blitz gets to Cutler. Turnovers and sacks are the difference in a 22-16 Vikings victory.
Chip Scoggins, columnist
Bold prediction? Vikings win at Soldier Field, something they haven’t been able to say since 2007. Oh, and Adrian Peterson avoids shrimp and runs over Bears defense.
Michael Rand, digital sports editor
I’ve been watching Vikings games for long enough to believe that just when things look like they’re headed in the right direction is always when Minnesota lets you down. Therefore I fully expect a blowout loss in Chicago; if I’m wrong about that and the Vikings win again, it might just be time to go all-in on what Mike Zimmer is doing here.
Chris Miller, pro sports team leader
New coach John Fox is charged with rebuilding the Bears defense into the trademark unit it once was. He’s not going to panic over a bad start, because he knows his system works (as it did in Carolina and Denver) and once he gets the pieces in place, he’ll be fine. Well, the pieces aren’t in place yet. And they probably won’t be until he has another building offseason. The Vikings make it harder than it should be, but win this one in a squeaker.
Jason Gonzalez, jack-of-all-trades
Coach Mike Zimmer said, “It doesn’t matter where you play — it’s how you play,” last Sunday after the Vikings beat an NFC North opponent on the road for the first time since 2012. We’ll see how true that statement rings Sunday in Chicago when the Vikings have a chance to win back-to-back divisional road games. They should win against a Bears team still trying to get used to a new system under a new coach.