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Dalvin Cook returned after missing all of October with a nagging hamstring injury to electrify the crowd with a 70 yard bolt down the sidelines, only to be tackled at the five-yard line, in Minnesota’s 24-9 win over the Lions before their bye week. Minnesota now has a dual threat in the backfield with Cook and Latavius Murray which should give Kirk Cousins a little bit of breathing time in the pocket. But the real story was the emergence of a relentless and swarming Minnesota defense that sacked Detroit’s Matthew Stafford 10 times and will give the veteran quarterback night terrors for the foreseeable future.

Despite winning and covering the point spread in four of their last five, the Vikings are no lock for a postseason berth. Entering Week 11, Minnesota sports a 5-3-1 record and is looking up at the division-leading Bears, just a half-game ahead, while the Packers are trailing closely behind at 4-4-1. The road to an NFC North title will not be easy and it goes through Soldier Field starting this week. Chicago’s young gunslinger, Mitchell Trubisky, is on fire after tossing three touchdowns and notching a career-best 355 yards while defensive stalwart, Khalil Mack, has returned from injury and made his presence immediately felt with a pair of sacks in Chicago’s 34-22 Week 10 win over Detroit.

A quick check of the odds at some of the best online sportsbooks, seen all in one place at Sportsbook Review, tells us that Chicago is favored by three points over the Vikes but although all of those online sportsbooks featured at Sportsbook Review are the titans of the industry, it’s not a bad idea to check out the Bookmaker review to read exactly what their customers have to say and why Bookmaker is indeed an industry leader for those looking to back up their opinions with cold, hard cash.

Minnesota has dominated the Bears in recent years, winning their last three meetings, and for those betting the Vikings, we can see that there are a few interesting stats heading into this week’s contest. Check out these trends:

  • Vikings are 4-0 ATS in their last four games in November.

  • Vikings are 5-1 ATS in their last six games after allowing less than 150 yards passing in their previous game.

  • Vikings are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five vs. NFC.

  • Vikings are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games.

If the defense can remain as pressuring and imposing against Trubisky as they did against Stafford, it’s not a reach to consider that the young quarterback will get rattled and the Bears punting unit will be used early and often. However, the Chicago offense is among the best in the league, tied for fifth averaging 29.9 points per game, and has a multi-faceted weapon in Tarik Cohen who catches even better than he runs as an outlet receiver. The key will be disrupting the Trubisky-to-Cohen connection and if Minnesota can do that, they could very well win this game outright and prove that the oddsmakers have installed the wrong favorite.

A win in Chicago is crucial but the path to a division title or a wild-card entry is still far from smooth and shiny. Next week our Vikings will host the Packers, never an easy out, and then travel to the Razor, home of the New England Patriots. On December 10th it won’t get much easier in Seattle but then Minnesota will have to cop wins over Miami (home) and in Detroit if they are to contend. The season will wrap in Minneapolis against the Bears but this is a road full of highwaymen and landmines, yet, it’s one they must travel to what could be a championship season or one ringing with disappointment. We will begin to see the final chapter unfold in Chicago this week.