This was supposed to be a matchup between two of the best teams in the NFC. While the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers have two of the top records in the conference, they might not look like Super Bowl contenders on Monday Night Football.
Both teams will be without their starting quarterbacks, as they close out the Week 11 schedule. Jay Cutler and Alex Smith will be forced to sit, after suffering concussions last week.
Neither signal caller has put up terrific stats in 2012, but both have helped their respective offenses score points. The Bears are seventh in points per game, while the 49ers are 14th at 23.7 points per contest.
The edge will likely go to the team with the better backup quarterback.
Chicago has the more experienced backup. Jason Campbell has been a starter for almost his entire career. He started the first six games for the Oakland Raiders in 2011, but his season ended with a broken collarbone. He went 11-for-19 for 94 yards in relief of Cutler last week.
San Francisco’s backup is only in his second NFL season. Colin Kaepernick has never made a start in his brief career. He has gotten more reps than Campbell this year, however. The 49ers have used him similarly to the way the New York Jets have used Tim Tebow. He’s completed 16 of 26 passes in six games. He’s done a lot of damage on the ground, accumulating 177 yards on just 21 attempts.
With Campbell and Kaepernick under center, this will be even more of a defensive battle than it would have been. The 49ers and Bears have the top two defensive units in football, allowing a combined 28.9 points per game. That’s less than what four other NFL teams allow by themselves.
The majority of points could come from defensive touchdowns. The Bears are averaging almost one defensive touchdown per game, and lead the league, forcing 30 turnovers.
It’s expected to be the lowest scoring contest of the week. The consensus total has dropped to 34 at most Las Vegas sportsbooks. The betting line has the 49ers as 3.5-point favorites at home.
Matt Forte and Frank Gore could have a major impact on the outcome. Gore has had success against Chicago recently, registering 215 yards in his last two games against the Bears.
The game is set to air at 8:30 on ESPN. If you can’t get to a TV, you can watch a free live stream online at espn3.com.
Prediction: With these two defenses and backup quarterbacks, both teams could be held in the single-digits. The Bears ability to score on defense might give them the edge in this one.
Predicted Score; Chicago 13, San Francisco 10