Monday Night Football will feature the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers this week with a potential first-round bye on the line between these two division leaders.
After suffering their second loss of the season, the Bears look to bounce back and put their game against the Houston Texans behind them. This week Chicago will have to head to San Fran to take on the 49ers, with second place in the NFC at stake.
The 6-2-1 49ers host the 7-2 Bears on Monday night. Can it get any better?
Where: Candlestick Park
When: Monday, November 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL.com
Betting Line: San Francisco (-4.5), according to NinersNation.com.
Chicago Injury Report (via Yahoo! as of Nov. 13, 2012)
San Francisco Injury Report (via Yahoo! as of Nov. 13, 2012)
|Patrick Willis LB||Probable||Shoulder|
|Mario Manningham WR||Probable||Shoulder|
|Frank Gore RB||Probable||Hand|
|Michael Crabtree WR||Probable||Illness|
|Alex Smith QB||Day-to-Day||Concussion|
What's At Stake?
As I mentioned in the introduction, there's a lot at stake in this game. Because the 49ers tied last week against the St. Louis Rams, the two teams are not tied. However, if San Francisco wins this game then it will be the second-best team in the NFC, after the Atlanta Falcons.
Whichever team wins this game is in the driver's seat for a bye week, with the other having to play catch-up.
In addition, both teams are in heated division races. If the Bears lose and the Green Bay Packers win, then Green Bay takes the division lead in the NFC North. If the 49ers lose and the Seattle Seahawks win, then the Seahawks cut the lead to just half a game in the NFC West.
Chicago Defense and Special Teams
Just like last week when I previewed the Bears-Texans game, the best fantasy option for the Bears in my mind is the team's defense.
The team has forced 30 turnovers (19 interceptions, 11 fumbles lost) and has seven defensive touchdowns. As a unit it also surrenders just 14.8 points per game.
This defense is absolutely incredible, and against a 49ers team that may be without Alex Smith, it should post excellent numbers.
San Francisco Defense and Special Teams
I know it's a boring pick for fantasy players, but this is going to be a boring game if you love offense.
Both of these teams are very defensive-minded. Neither team gives up big plays or many points, and points will be at a premium on Monday. Don't be surprised to see another 13-6 game like when the Bears played the Texans.
What They Are Saying
The big storyline for this game will be the health of San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, who suffered a concussion last week. As of now, nothing is set in stone.
I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Key Matchup: Which Offense Will Strike First?
This is going to be a low-scoring affair, and the biggest question is which offense will strike first against a stingy defense.
Obviously neither team wants to make a mistake on offense against such dangerous opponents, and it will be interesting to see if either team comes out swinging, or if they both play conservatively.
Either way, the deciding factor will be which offense is able to punch it in the end zone first.
San Francisco is a great team at home, but this game will come down to the question of whether or not Alex Smith plays. I don't expect him to recover from a concussion in a week, which is why I'm taking the Bears in this one.
Bears 13, 49ers 9