Who knew what this Monday night matchup would be prior to week one. The possibilities exploded off the schedule until quarterback concussions and injuries occurred quicker than a Tony Romo interception. With Jake Cutler down and Alex Smith hoping for game-time medical approval, this game has definitely lost its luster.
However, it remains larger than the injury reports. Six weeks remain after this one; just enough time to snatch the top seed in the NFC from the current top bird in Atlanta. For the loser of this game, a tougher battle to win a division with the second place squad hot on the heels.
Chicago and San Francisco are closely matched. Neither average more than 200 yards in the air, nor less than 100 yards on the ground. They have prolific defenses while the Bears are sexier. This year's version of Monster's of the Midway lead the league in defensive touchdowns, interceptions and second behind the Patriots in forced fumbles. Each team has faced teams struggling to find their way, beating only a few opponents with winning records. Yet they have destroyed squads piling record numbers and sending losers to the bus destroyed and demoralized.
The winner of this game will win the turnover battle taking advantage with scores and making the big plays to keep momentum. Cutler watching his backup, Jason Campbell, take snaps will prompt more conservative play calls for the Bears offense who will depend more upon Matt Forte and Michael Bush. This could be problematic going against the Niners top-ranked defense that’s sixth in the National Football League against the run.
Expect both teams to enter the game establishing the run waiting and watching for an opening or a hole to attack. Which offense will convert third downs? Which wideouts will create the crucial separation for the extra yards? Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick will make a play before Campbell. The 49ers offensive weaponry is a step beyond the Bears’ display.
Should the Niners avoid mistakes, pound the run and play with championship intensity on defense; the scoreboard will acknowledge an easier outcome than expected. Frank Gore will continue his success against a Bears defense that has yet to face a discipline power rushing attack like the Niners. Campbell will turn the ball over and struggle to get Brandon Marshall involved. Niners win a close one, 16-9.