Chicago Bears (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1 SU, 5-4 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Monday, November 19th, 2012, 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif.
TV: ESPN/DirecTV 206
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Chi +3.5/SF -3.5.
Over/Under Total: 34.5
What was supposed to be a battle of elite teams in the NFC has been taken hostage by lingering concussions and the NFL’s new ultra-cautious policy toward head injuries, so nobody knows exactly what we’ll get when the Chicago Bears travel to the West Coast to take on the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park on Monday Night Football.
The Bears of course might have to play the game without starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who left last Sunday Night’s, 13-6, loss to the Houston Texans with a concussion at halftime. But unlike last season when Cutler went down and the team dropped like a rock, Chicago went out and got an expensive insurance policy in veteran Jason Campbell, who will try and step in and keep the Bears multi-dimensional on offense.
San Francisco lost their starting QB Alex Smith to a concussion in the second quarter of last week’s game against St. Louis, and Colin Kaepernick relieved him and helped the 49ers salvage a tie in an ugly game, 24-24. At last report Smith was getting his second opinion from an independent neurologist, but he along with Cutler have yet to get clearance in a Monday Night game that might have to feature the second string.
With all of the questions at QB it’s hard to find a single sportsbook offering a point spread or total yet (as of Wed.), so decisions on wagering and value will have to be made later.
If you handicap this game with the assumption it will be Campbell-vs.-Kaepernick , both of them have some qualities you can hang your hat on.
Campbell is a proven veteran, and although it is never easy to enter a game at halftime with little reps in practice, he made it look seamless going 11-for-19 for 94 yards in the pouring rain on Sunday Night. The one thing that does worry me is that Campbell is not very mobile, and the Bears issues along the offensive line are well documented. A heavy dose of Matt Forte and Michael Bush would be a good solution for the Bears, but the 49ers are 7th against the run and only allow 95 yards a game, so that may prove difficult.
Kaepernick is a wildcard, plain and simple. Only in his second year in the NFL, he is a great runner (66 yards, TD vs. Rams) and can make plays out of the pocket in the passing game (11-of-17, 117 yards), but a pure dropback NFL passer he is not and never will be. The difference could turn out to be the 49ers offensive line, which will have to help Frank Gore and the running game keep Kaepernick out of third and long and other predictable downs and situations that cost the young QB against a Bears defense that is the most opportunistic in the league.
The last time the Bears and 49ers met was in 2009 in Candlestick, a 10-6 victory for the 49ers that was essentially handed to them when Cutler threw five interceptions in the game. Ironically, going all the way back to 1989 the Bears have won every meeting with the 49ers at Soldier Field (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS), while the 49ers have won every meeting at Candlestick Park (6-0 SU, 6-0 ATS).
The Niners are also 21-6 ATS on Monday Night Football over the years, but the Bears are also a solid 5-2 ATS in their last seven appearances in primetime.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: QB play should be the difference Monday night with Campbell making just enough mistakes for the Niners to cover this game which should be very close throughout.
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