Chicago Bears-San Francisco 49ers Week 11 Preview: Who Has the Advantage?
Chicago Bears-San Francisco 49ers Week 11 Preview
The strange thing about this game is that there will be a battle between two of the best teams in the NFC, and possibly both starting quarterbacks will be sidelined. The starting quarterbacks of the Bears and the 49ers both suffered concussions last week, and will more than likely miss Monday night’s game.
As important as both quarterbacks are to their respective teams, both teams’ defenses are equally as important. This game will feature two great defensive lines and linebacking corps. In addition, both defenses are ranked in the top 10 in pass defense, run defense, and overall defense.
The Bears (7-2) are coming off a heartbreaking loss, and are hoping to start another winning streak on the road. The 49ers (6-2-1), who haven’t loss since Week 6, were a part of a rare tie last week and will try to keep away from the loss column.
Going into Week 11, Chicago and San Francisco are second and third in the NFC respectively. What this means is if the playoffs started today, the Bears would have a bye week, while the 49ers would host a wildcard game.
This game is big for both teams’ playoff implications. As mentioned before, both of these teams have a great chance of making it to the conference championship. If the Bears and the 49ers in fact do meet in the postseason, this game may decide who’ll have the home-field advantage for that game.
Possibly having two backup quarterbacks under center changes the dynamic of this entire game. Here’s a breakdown of who should have the upper hand in this game.
Chicago’s quarterback is definitely out. San Francisco’s starter has a 50/50 chance of playing. Assuming that both starting quarterbacks will be sidelined for this game, Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick will be plugged in as the signal callers for the Bears and 49ers respectively. Campbell is a much more experienced quarterback and a better thrower than Kaepernick. However, Kaepernick is a threat when scrambling and can be an added dimension to San Francisco’s running game. If the 49ers’ starting quarterback ends up playing, then I’ll have to give the advantage to the 49ers. This prediction is only assuming that both backup quarterbacks will be playing.
San Francisco has the best running game in the league. Their 170.2 rushing yards per game average can easily make them a favorite to win just about any game. Along with topping the league in rushing, they are tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns with 10. Chicago is in the top ten in the league in rushing averaging 127.0 yards per game. However, we have to wonder if their coaching staff will rely more on the run since their starting quarterback isn’t in the lineup, or will they continue to limit the carries of their running backs as they have done over the past few weeks.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Chicago is still highly dependent on one player in their passing game, which is Brandon Marshall. As productive as Marshall is, the changing of quarterbacks might result in a better distribution of the ball in the passing game. Even if that does happen, it doesn’t change the fact that San Francisco has a much more talented group of pass catchers than the Bears. What puts the 49ers’ corps of receivers over the top is one of the best tight ends in the league, Vernon Davis. Mismatches can be created with Davis’ speed against linebackers, and his size against defensive backs.
The Bears have given up 28 sacks this season, while the 49ers have let defenders get to their quarterback 29 times, and both teams are ranked 28th and 29th in the league in this category respectively. With both teams having great pass rushes on the defensive side of the ball, obviously pass protection will be a huge challenge for both teams. What this will come down to is the ability to run the ball. With that being said, any team that averages over 40 more yards than their opponent does deserves the advantage. This decision was an easy one to make.
The Bears are still getting great pressure on opposing quarterbacks from their defensive line, which allows their linebackers to drop back in coverage. Chicago is probably the only defensive line the league where offenses have to account for everyone on their front four because a sack can come from anyone at any time. All but two of Chicago’s 26 sacks have come from their defensive front. San Francisco has a stout defensive line that is a big part of their sixth ranked run defense. However, Chicago has allowed fewer yards and fewer touchdowns than the 49ers have on the ground this season.
Chicago’s linebacking corps has been called old, but they are still producing big plays. They have proved that by scoring three touchdowns off interceptions this season. As good as the Bears’ linebackers have played this season, there is still some room for improvement. The past two weeks, opposing running backs have rushed for over 100 yards against Chicago. San Francisco’s group of linebackers not only contributes in stopping the run, but they are the primary pass rushers for their defense. The 49ers linebackers have 15.5 of the teams 17 sacks. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith is responsible for 9.5 of those sacks.
The 49ers’ secondary hasn’t produced half as many turnovers as the Bears have this season. San Francisco’s defensive backs have a total of only four interceptions so far this year. Compared to Chicago’s league-leading 19 interceptions, 16 of which has come from the secondary, the ‘Niners seem to have no nose for the ball. Not only has the Bears caused a high number of turnovers, the secondary have also produced four of their 16 picks into touchdowns of their own. In additions to the picks, cornerback Charles Tillman has forced seven fumbles this season, further adding to Chicago’s number of tackaways.
Both the 49ers and the Bears have great return specialist in the kick return and the punt return games that can take it the distance anytime they get the ball in their hands. This aspect of the special teams is just about even. Looking at the kicking game, Bears kicker Robbie Gould has only missed three kicks this season, one of those being blocked, and has connected on both of his kicks from 50 yards and beyond. 49ers kicker David Akers has struggled as of late, converting 15 of his 21 kicks this season. In addition, Akers has missed two of his last three from 50 yards or more.
Since 2004, the Bears have a record of 9-2 on Monday Night Football. The last time these two teams met was in 2009 with San Francisco prevailing 10-6 in front of a nationally televised audience. Defensively, both teams have great direction without a doubt, proving that in the defensive rankings of the league. What this will come down to is how both offensive coaching staffs adapt to not having their starting quarterbacks in the lineup. Both defenses are two of the best in the league, and each teams’ offensive coordinators will have their hands full with deciding how to counter their opposing defenses’ schemes. This will be a great chess match.
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