Week 10 Preview: Bears (4-4) @ 49ers (3-5)

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The schedule makers do no favors for the Bears this week, as they have to make the long flight out to San Francisco on a short week of practice for a Thursday night kickoff. 

Week 9 Recap

The 49ers played nice hosts, and gave Vince Young and the Titans their second win of the season 34-27. QB Alex Smith, making his second straight start, made everyone remember why he was benched in the first place, as he threw 3 INTs, including a decisive pick 6 with less than 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. TE Vernon Davis continued his impressive season with 10 catches for over 100 yards, and Frank Gore ran like he always does, but in the end, San Francisco lost a game they should've won at home. Anyone claiming that Mike Singletary is the next coming of Don Shula, and you know who you are, might want to taste a bite of reality. I suggest the Grawboski's take off the beer glasses. 

The Bears embarrassed themselves at home in a 41-21 loss to the Cardinals. Sadly, an event that I predicted all too well in last week's game preview. The game was even more lobsided than the score appears, as the pathetic defense allowed the Cardinals to score on their first 6 possessions without an ounce of resistance. It wasn't until Matt Leinart came into relieve Kurt Warner for the afternoon, that the Bears defense actually looked alive, nearly intercepting Leinart on his first pass... and picking him off on his second attempt. Warner promptly came back into the game and threw his 5th TD pass for a career day... a week after he threw 5 INTs. The defense wasted away a 369 yard 3 TD performance from Jay Cutler, who was running for his life all afternoon. Greg Olsen was the recipient of all 3 TDs, as he enjoyed the best game of his career. Tommie Harris got ejected on the 4th play from scrimmage for punching a Cardinals lineman in the face... it was the only punch the Bears defense packed all day. 

Quick Numbers:

  • 23.9: Points allowed per game by the Bears defense.
  • 5: Rushing attempts for Matt Forte last Sunday vs the Cardinals. 
  • 65.7: Alex Smith's career QB rating.
  • 25: Passes of 20-plus allowed by the 49ers defense.

Key Injuries:

SF WR Issac Bruce (ankle) Q
SF CB Nate Clements (shoulder) O
SF LT Joe Staley (knee) O
SF RB Glen Coffee (concussion) O

CHI RB Garrett Wolfe (Kidney) O
CHI CB Charles Tillman (Shoulder) Q
CHI SS Al Afalava (Shoulder) Q

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When the 49ers have the ball.

There are two pieces that make this San Francisco offense work: RB Frank Gore, and TE Vernon Davis. Gore is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, and can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. Davis is finally performing like the elite player the 49ers thought he would be, when they drafted him in the first round. According to Davis' tweets, "The 49ers will dominate the Bears defense." A prediction that doesn't seem so far-fetched after last Sunday. However, the 49ers will be without their starting LT Joe Staley for this one, as he sprained his MCL early in Sunday's loss to Tennessee. QB Alex Smith was sacked 4 times without Staley's protection. 

The key matchup for the 49ers: Frank Gore vs the Bears front 7
Expect Singletary to play this one close to the vest, and run Frank Gore all night to avoid mistakes from his crappy QB. The Bears defense allowed 182 rushing yards to the NFL's 32 ranked run offense last week. It's surely up on the wall in Singletary's office.

The X factor on offense for the 49ers: TE Vernon Davis
Davis has been a beast this year, and Bears LBs have been awful in pass coverage vs opposing TEs. Davis could cakewalk through the middle of the Bears zone coverage. 

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When the Bears have the ball.
This offense has become completely one-dimensional... as Jay Cutler has almost nothing to work with in his "non-supporting" cast. Because of the crappy roster that has been built on both sides of the ball, the Bears are going to have to let Cutler be Cutler, and live or die on his golden arm for the rest of the season. The pass protection is suspect, the run blocking is awful, and the receivers can't create separation or find an open spot in a zone even when Cutler escapes the pocket and extends the play. At this point, it's safe to say that Cutler is probably second guessing his decision to leave Denver. The Bears finally have a franchise QB... the problem is they don't have a franchise.

Last season, Ron Turner implemented a no-huddle offense for Kyle Orton to minimize the deficiencies of the O-line. At the midway point of the season, Cutler's finally familiar enough with the offense to do the same. Expect to see it Thursday night. 

The key matchup for the Bears: QB Jay Cutler vs the line of scrimmage
On an extremely short week of preparation, neither defense is likely to do anything out of the ordinary. This will give Cutler an opportunity to recognize the 49ers defensive fronts pretty well, and attack them at will if the Bears implement the no-huddle. 

The X Factor on offense for the Bears: TE Greg Olsen
It's redundant every week... I can't even bother to choose another X-factor for the Bears. Olsen is a game changer for the Bears... when he's heavily involved. 

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Side notes from the NFC North:

Vikings & Lions: Minnesota hosts Detroit after a bye week this Sunday. There's no easier match-up on paper than this one. QB Matthew Stafford finally returned to the field last week for the Lions and threw 5 INTs in Seattle.

Packers: Aaron Rodgers was sacked another 6 times last week... by the Tampa Bay Yucs! The Pack allowed an additional 12 QB hits, giving Tampa their first victory of the season. Packers have now allowed an NFL worst 37 sacks on the year, and they host a hot Dallas team this Sunday. Bad things will happen to Aaron Rodgers.

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