Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
The Chicago Bears are without starting quarterback Jay Cutler, but their defense against an average 49ers offense with a backup quarterback should allow them to hang around and keep the score close.
Monday night's Chicago Bears-San Francisco 49ers matchup is, on paper, one of the best games of the NFL regular season. It's two stubborn defenses against a pair of offenses that have the potential to put up big points, but probably won't on Monday.
It's two NFC giants feeling each other out as they head toward the playoffs. It's also a matchup of two backup QBs, as Colin Kaepernick appears to be the man with reports swirling on Monday morning that starter Alex Smith is not cleared to play. It should be low-scoring, and it might not be too exciting, but that 7.5-point spread in favor of the 49ers just seems like too much.
Look for the Niners to run, run and run with Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. This is about as conservative an offense as there is with or without Smith, and Kaepernick himself is a threat as a runner. San Francisco will probably just try to pound the rock and work their way down the field.
When the Bears have the ball, fill-in QB Jason Campbell will hand off to Matt Forte and Michael Bush and look to hit Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery downfield. The 49ers hope to tee off on Campbell with a good pass rush, and Chicago's offense is in a bit of a funk after a 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans at home last weekend.
The Bears could be in trouble without Jay Cutler and with Campbell running the offense against a defense this stout, but Chicago is very good at defensive touchdowns. One such big play could swing the tide in their favor.
The Bears are 9-2 on Monday night under coach Lovie Smith. They're also 8-2 in their last 10 November games. That doesn't bode well for the 49ers, but a win for SF give them more of a lead in the NFC West.