Another riveting week of NFL action concludes Monday Night with a premier clash as the Chicago Bears head to California to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Both squads are two of the best in the NFL right now, and despite injuries at key positions, this could very well be an NFC Championship preview come January.
The main theme surrounding this game will be the status of both quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Alex Smith. For the Bears, Cutler has recently been ruled out with a concussion, putting huge responsibility into the hands of mediocre back-up Jason Campbell. This game could prove massive for playoff seeding and bye-weeks down the line, and with these teams so close in the standings, Chicago will need Campbell to keep things simple and give their team a chance to win. Besides Cutler being out, defensive end Shea McClellin is also out, as is nose-tackle Matt Toeaina. With that much depth gone from the Bears’ defense, you’d think they would struggle, but this remains one of the premier units in the NFL.
Conversely for the Niners, they too have had concerns at the quarterback position in the lead-up to this game. It was initially thought that young Colin Kaepernick would have to get the start for San Francisco, though Alex Smith has been cleared and is over his concussion issues and will be ready for Monday night. The 49ers were dismal last week, tying the Rams at home in what was a simply unacceptable performance for all within the organization. Expect a big bounce-back outing from San Francisco in Week 11. The Niners enter this contest healthy, and looking forward to getting some separation in the wide-open NFC. They can do that with a big victory under the Monday night lights.
Bears vs. 49ers Betting Odds:
Chicago Bears +7 (-110)
@ San Francisco 49ers -7 (-110)
Over 37 (-110)
Under 37 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Bears vs. 49ers Pick:
Expect this to be your typical hard-fought, defensive-struggle type of engagement. Both teams are well-experienced and know how to win, but their styles suggest this will be a close game devoid of many points. With the confusion all week long about which quarterback will start, and the fact that this game features two of the top units in all of football, points will be at a premium in San Francisco on Monday night.
The Niners will look to pound the football with Frank Gore for much of the night. Alex Smith has been in a bit of a funk of late, and by using the ground game against a somewhat depleted Bears’ front, it could open up opportunities for a mostly stagnant Niners’ attack. Chicago has actually yielded 270 rushing yards over the past two weeks, so they’re not entirely invincible. Look for the Niners to really try and establish a ground game, keeping the clock moving, perhaps contributing to an Under by game’s end.
For the Bears on offense, first downs will not come easy, and that’s putting it kindly. For all of the heat Jay Cutler takes in Chicago, the guy remains a premier quarterback and one of the main reasons the Bears are where they are today. Jason Campbell is a huge downgrade, especially because he has looked simply awful in recent weeks. San Francisco is ranked 4th-best in defending the pass, and the Bears will struggle hitting double-digits Monday evening.
This will be a big issue for Chicago. Since the 49ers won’t respect Campbell’s arm, they can load up on defending against the run, an area in which they’ve looked a tad vulnerable. By stacking the box, Matt Forte will find little room to manoeuvre against a stout Niners’ front-seven.
The reason the Bears won’t get completely blown out however, is because of their simply amazing defense. For all the talk that surrounds the Niners’ defense, Chicago has just been unreal this season. They are virtually impossible to throw against, and will create turnovers. Alex Smith has to be precise, and if not, it could be a long evening for the former first overall pick. Chicago will also get to the quarterback at will, an area where San Francisco has struggled this season, conceding the second most sacks in the league in that regard.
Expect a game where defenses will rule the night. Though this total is set at a very low number of 37 points, the offenses will struggle and the defenses will dominate. This will be a tightly-played, playoff-like game, and though picking an ATS winner is difficult for this one, the Under 37 seems like a solid wager.