Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers Pick
Chicago Bears (10-4 SU, 10-4 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (4-10 SU, 5-9 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
By Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CHI -4/SF +4 (Bovada Sportsbook)
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The Chicago Bears come into the Bay Area to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in NFC action. Granted, only one team has a real future this season, but that doesn’t mean this won’t be a good game at Levi’s Stadium. The Bears are riding high at 10-4, coming off a 24-17 win over the Packers, which clinched them the division. It’s a crowning achievement for a team that worked hard to get to this spot. But with a 26-23 win over Seattle on Sunday, the Niners won their second in a row and are not the wilting lilies some might suspect. I like the 49ers to cover the spread this week at home.
No Easy Lay-Up
Winning two games in a row is no major feat perhaps. But in beating a 6-6 Broncos team that was flying high and looking to climb into the wild card race and then by beating Seattle, the Niners beat two red-hot teams, both of whom had something major to gain with a win. They look to be rising to the role of spoiler. Chicago, meanwhile, clinched the division last week. If they win out and maybe the Rams keep faltering, they could end up with one of the top two seeds for the NFC playoffs. That hardly qualifies as a must-win situation and after beating a divisional team and clinching the division, there could be a little energy-dump this week.
At the same time, Chicago is not accustomed to success and therefore, less likely to be flippant about it. Against Green Bay, they beat a team that had beaten them in 9 of their last ten games. They should still be at high-energy, trying to hit the postseason with some momentum. They have won 7 of 8 games and are on a nice roll. A win a few weeks ago over the Rams was a validating moment. But after two straight at Soldier Field, they now have to pick up and cross the country to take on a team that has shown some spark the last two weeks.
The 49ers’ Heart
Whether winning or losing, covering or not covering, or playing well or not, the 49ers always seemed to be striving for something. They were never simply lost at sea, as they have soldiered on as admirably as can be expected. They are down to their third choice at quarterback in Nick Mullens, with a litany of players from both sides of the ball on the injured-list. At times, they’ve dug so deep in the barrel that there are multiple players you read about making contributions that you’ve never heard of. And yet, through all that, they’ve kept things moving forward and now they’re beating teams with a lot on the line.
Big Questions for the SF Offense
The 49ers’ offense has been hit hard with misfortune from all angles. Key chunks of what was supposed to be there isn’t. Mullens has been good, putting up aerial production every week. He has also helped bring first-rounder WR Dante Pettis into the fold, with the pair making a nice connection. Matt Breida returned to the fold last week and is a valuable weapon. TE George Kittle has amazed at points this season and is a massive weapon. It’s a pretty solid group as of late.
The 49ers still face some potential pitfalls this season. It’s not easy to run against the Bears’ defense, as opponents have discovered this season. As of late, they’ve shut down teams with better running backs than what Frisco brings to the table. And while Mullens has been effective, he’s mistake-prone being still new to NFL action on this level. The Bears have been massive in the playmaking department this season. First of all, you have Khalil Mack all over the field making mayhem. Cornerback Kyle Fuller has 7 picks, with S Eddie Jackson having picked off 6 balls. Jackson was hurt late in the win over Green Bay and they hope he is a go this week. They have 36 turnovers this season, with 27 interceptions. They’ve scored a half-dozen touchdowns this season. Compare that to a San Fran defense that has picked off two passes all season and had opposing defenses score 3 touchdowns on them this season.
Can the Young SF Defense Step Up Again?
In the last few weeks, we have seen solid and timely play from the San Fran defense. In beating a Seahawks team last week that had been on a roll, the youngsters played well. DeForest Buckner had two sacks. While the higher-profile personnel losses on this team have been on offense, this side of the ball has been pelted beyond any team in the league. They’ve been playing clutch ball lately and a bit over their head. It makes you remember why so many people were so excited about the Niners before the season began. It wasn’t just Jimmy Garoppollo, as there were a lot of exciting pieces on both sides of the ball.
Still, the Frisco “D” doesn’t make a ton of positive plays. Mitchell Trubisky missed a few games and Sunday showed him back at his best, passing efficiently and even flashing his fast feet. With a good back in Jordan Howard, a dangerous back who can catch passes and make returns in Tarik Cohen, and a lot of faces in the aerial game, their offense isn’t just window dressing for the defense. They are still not the most-vital offense in the league by any means. And this doesn’t seem like a spot where one would be inclined to predict a vintage showing by the Bears’ offense.
Take the Points on the Home Underdog
Sure, the 49ers are 4-10 and not much better against the spread, but somewhere in there lurks a good team. They have a lot of pride and it’s been evident the past few weeks and even at other points this season. Chicago is hot and on one hand, this seems like a weird time for them to fall flat. But it’s still a tough road trip and the last two teams that San Francisco played were just as urgent if not more so than the Bears are this week. I like the 49ers to cover this week.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the San Francisco 49ers plus 4 points.