Game Preview: Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers - New York News

Game Preview: Bears at 49ers

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

FOX Chicago Sports' Dionne Miller and Tom Waddle preview Monday night's matchup between the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers.

Dionne Miller's Take

Whether Jay Cutler was medically cleared to play Monday and the Bears chose to hold him out anyway remains a mystery. Either way, Lovie Smith made it clear - Cutler is out, Jason Campbell is in.

Campbell took all the reps with the first team this week, which proved invaluable as he preps for his first start in more than a year. But this is why he's here, to play when Cutler cannot and Campbell is ready for this opportunity.

But it is filled with mixed emotions for him. Campbell was hurt in more ways than one last season in the Bay Area, Oakland to be specific. Campbell had gotten the Raiders off to a good start, then broke his collar bone in mid-October. A 6-8 week recovery took a turn when the Raiders went out and signed Carson Palmer. Campbell knew his days were numbered.

He's always been a starter, sees himself as a starter, and prepares the only way he knows how, as a starter. If not for the injury, he would be starting somewhere in the league, so the Bears feel lucky to have him. Especially right now.

A concussion is nothing to mess around with. Cutler is a dad now. He's got a significant life outside of the game. All players do, and they will all spend a larger majority of their lives doing something other than football. Take care of yourselves as best you can as you play the most violent 'organized' sport.

Reasons just like this is why teams look for a guy like Campbell. Plus, there are seven games left in the regular season. If Cutler sits this week and comes back for the remainder of what everyone expects to be a deep play off run, all the better.

Plus, in a game featuring the NFL's top two scoring defenses, offense for both teams may be the footnote. Campbell told me, being thrown into the elements last Sunday against Houston was an incredible primer for San Francisco's defense. And despite the outcome, Campbell felt the second half went well (11 of 19, 94 yards). The tough part now is that the Bears offense needs to find a rhythm early and somehow put four quarters together. But do they want to see that with the backup QB? Can they find that quickly? Who knows.

Candlestick is a tough place to play. You'd have to ask the 1985 Bears how to win there, because they are the last Chicago team to do so. Campbell is 0-2 in San Francisco, one trip with each of his teams (Washington and Oakland). He isn't going to try to fix everything in one game. He wants to do what he does well and try to help the offense play with a greater sense of urgency. Oh, and have fun.

As much as Campbell is excited to be back in the Bay Area and to prove his place with this Bears team, he is on a business trip and the team needs to win no matter how they get it. First time all year, I honestly don't see it happening.

Prediction

49ers 13, Bears 10

 

Tom Waddle's Take

Offense

The similarities between these two offenses go beyond their concussed starting quarterbacks. If it were a battle of the backups, Jason Campbell gets the edge in experience and resume while Colin Kaepernick gets the nod as an exceptional athlete. I expect both to come out running. Matt Forte is averaging almost 5 yards per carry and needs to get 20 touches minimum Monday night. There are still plays to be made in the passing game, but expect a low risk, low reward approach against this 49er defense.

On the other sideline, the Niners boast an excellent 1-2 punch in their backfield as well. Frank Gore is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and Kendall Hunter gets 5 yards per pop. Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Vernon Davis give Jim Harbaugh a deeper group of targets. Both of these offensive lines have struggled to protect their quarterbacks.

I give the 49ers a slight edge on offense.

Defense

These defenses have quite a bit in common as well. The Niners allow just 292 yards per game and rank first in scoring defense yielding just 14 points per game. Their D-line is dynamic, led by old reliable Justin Smith and explosive second year pass rush specialist Aldon Smith, who has 9.5 QB takedowns. They are equally impressive at the next level with two Pro Bowl linebacks in Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis. They also boast two hard hitting safeties.

The Bears rank just behind the Niners, allowing 15 points per contest. These Bears are more accomplished at creating big plays. They've now sacked 26 quarterbacks and forced a league high 30 takeaways. They'll have their hands full in that category again this week as the Niners have turned it over just nine times.

The Bears get the edge on defense.

Special Teams

David Akers has disappointed, hitting just 15 of 21 field goals. The Niners have an explosive group of return men featuring Ted Ginn, Jr.

Robbie Gould has been more reliable than Akers but the return game hasn't hit its stride.

The special teams is a draw.

Intangibles

This should be an old school slobber knocker. For those of you unfamiliar with that football reference, I'll simplify things. A lot of guys are gonna get punched in the mouth, on both sides of the ball. The team that responds best to the physicality - also a great football term - will more than likely win this game. I was hoping for Jay Cutler versus Alex Smith, but this game is more about the ground game and defense than it is great quarterback play. Both teams are coming off a disappointing Week 10 outcome. Both teams are elite NFC contenders and both are jockeying for post season seeding. Like last week, this ones difficult to handicap. And, like last week, when I find myself in this quandary, I lean on my mantra, time and place. And I'm more interested in place than time. Two evenly matched teams, both with a lot of incentive. Home field advantage could be the determining factor.

Prediction

49ers 20, Bears 17

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