Chicago Bears: (7-2)
Head Coach: Lovie Smith
The Monday Night Game between the Bears and 49ers, pits two division leaders battling it out, in a rather important game for both teams. The story leading up to the game was if either team would have the services of their starting quarterback. San Francisco was fortunate enough that Alex Smith was cleared for action, while Chicago was not so lucky, and will be without Jay Cutler. The game will still be a war, and ultimately be decided on defense, where both teams can argue they are the best.
When The Bears Have the Ball: Advantage 49ers
The Bears have play makers at both the running back and wide receiver positions, and in Jason Campbell, a 2nd string quarterback who is more then capable of putting forth a solid performance. Chicago will try and keep the game out of Campbell’s hands and lean on Matt Forte and the rushing attack to carry the load. To counter this the 49ers already have a rush defense that has been a stingy bunch, but they can focus even more now that Cutler is out, however they had better be careful.
Jason Campbell has started and won games in the NFL, and in Brandon Marshall the Bears have one of the most physically gifted receivers in the game. The San Francisco secondary has been up the task of covering some of the games best receivers already this year, and will again have their hands full with Marshall. The secondary will use multiple players to double team and harass Marshall, and can only hope and pray on any 50/50 balls that Campbell will be smart to just put up for grabs to his Pro Bowl wide out.
When The 49ers Have the Ball: Advantage Bears
The President of the United States was not far off when he said that the Bears are the best defense in the league. With Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs roaming the middle, Chicago is quick and just as physical as the 49er backs, meaning that both Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter will earn every yard they get. Despite the big names up front, the game changers for the Bears are in their secondary where they have two players who can completely change the momentum of a game.
In Tim Jennings the Bears have an aggressive cornerback who leads the league with 8 interceptions. On the other side is Charles Tillman who leads the league with 7 forced fumbles and also has 2 interceptions. Week in and week out the 49ers concern is the passing game, and winning the turnover battle. On Monday they will have a steep hill in both areas. Chicago is far more skilled and physical in the secondary then Seattle who were able to completely shut down Michael Crabtree and the rest of the receivers. The Bears are tops in the NFL in both interceptions and fumbles, so the 49ers offense will be tested.
Pressure On The Home Team
The game is not a must win for either team, but the loser will have an interesting end to their season, as both have a talented division looking up at them, waiting for a chance. The team under the most pressure will be the 49ers who are at home and wasted a golden opportunity last week to earn a division win. To top it all off, Jay Cutler is out. The game will be a defensive struggle and the team that wins the turnover battle, or makes a big play late will come out on top.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.