Minnesota Vikings host the Chicago Bears in an NFC North matchup and Ben Steele recommends backing the visitors to continue their good form...
"Chicago will know that the key to stopping Minnesota is stopping Cook, but the 25-year-old has had to deal with that sort of focus every week and has still managed to score four more touchdowns than any other player this season."
Dalvin is cooking with gas
As we enter Week 10, the competition to have the most rushing yards in the NFL already looks like it will be a two horse race. Derrick Henry, who is at his destructive best for the Tennessee Titans, and Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings. Cook, in his fourth year with Minnesota, is one of the biggest breakout stories of the season averaging 122.5 yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game in 2020.
Two weeks ago Cook missed Minnesota's 40-23 loss to Atlanta with a groin injury but since his return he has been nothing short of sensational. With more than 400 total yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns in wins over the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, Cook is in the best run of form in his career. A staggering 41% of the former Florida State running back's career touchdowns have come during the seven games he has played in 2020; and facing a Bears defence who were 20th in the league against the run coming in to this weekend it is safe to assume that the Vikings gameplan will focus on getting the ball to their star early and often.
Chicago will know that the key to stopping Minnesota is stopping Cook, but the 25-year-old has had to deal with that sort of focus every week and has still managed to score four more touchdowns than any other player this season. I'd expect him to add to his total in a Minnesota victory on Monday night.
Thielen can profit on quiet night for Cousins
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has made a career out of running a play-action heavy offence so Cook's hot streak has come into play at the perfect time, opening up the playbook and allowing veteran Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson to take advantage of an increase in one-on-one matchups. Unfortunately for Cousins, he is seemingly unable to rely on anybody other than his two outside receivers, 71 of his 137 completions and 10 of his 15 touchdown passes have been to either Jefferson or Thielen, and I can't see that changing tonight against a talented Bears defensive unit.
Jefferson was one of six wide receivers picked in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and has hit the ground running, leading the Vikings in receiving yards and on course to be the only rookie receiver to cross the 1,000 yard mark this year. The LSU product has been an able replacement for Stefon Diggs who was traded in the offseason, but it is the veteran who still holds the mantle as the number one receiver in Minnesota.
Thielen's ability in the red-zone is what sets him apart from Jefferson and in a game where Minnesota will focus on controlling the ball I'd expect the sure-handed veteran to be the main target for Minnesota's QB. Cousins' passing line (229.5) is set a little too high for my liking and don't expect him to reach that mark but a bet of Adam Thielen to score a touchdown and Kirk Cousins to have under 229.5 passing yards looks like a good bet.
Mooney a bright spot for toothless Bears
The Chicago Bears came in to the season with a ready made quarterback controversy. Mitch Trubisky has never really shown himself to be the leader Chicago hoped he would be, especially after picking him ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017, and offseason acquisition Nick Foles hadn't had time to fully learn the playbook after a truncated preseason due to coronavirus restrictions. Trubisky started the first two games of the season before the keys to the offence were turned over to Foles in Week 3. The former Philadelphia Eagle led the Bears to an impressive comeback win but, unfortunately, that victory over the Atlanta Falcons is about as good as it has got.
In all six games Foles has started, the Bears have failed to score more than 23 points and both of their wins during this run have relied on the defence forcing key turnovers. Last week's 24-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans saw two touchdowns scored in the last four minutes of play to make the scoreline respectable but it did continue to showcase the emergency of rookie receiver Darnell Mooney as a lone positive on a dreadful offensive unit. Mooney is obviously not as heralded as Justin Jefferson, the Minnesota man was drafted 151 picks earlier than his Chicago counterpart, but he has shown himself to be valuable pick for the Bears.
Slotting in as the number two receiver on the depth chart, behind Allen Robinson, Mooney has become a more central part of the offence with each passing week and has registered 10 catches in his last two games. Robinson is officially listed as questionable on the Chicago injury report so it is likely that Mooney will have to step up even more this week, and with Minnesota often struggling against quick receivers, Mooney could be set to benefit on Monday night. I'm backing Chicago's rookie comfortably top his receiving yards line of 38.5 yards and at 3/1 he's a good price to score a touchdown for good measure.
Ben Steele NFL P/L:
Staked: 35 points
Returned: 38.9 points
P/L: +3.9 points