NFL Week 11 odds: Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers

The look to avoid the first losing streak of the season on Monday night against San Francisco in a game with potentially big postseason seeding implications, and Chicago will have to play without starting QB Jay Cutler.

Cutler suffered concussion late in the second quarter of last week’s loss to Houston. Cutler didn’t play in the second half. The Bears believe he was injured on a helmet-to-helmet hit by the Texans’ Tim Dobbins, who was fined $30,000 by the league. The concussion isn’t the first for Cutler. He missed a game after being sacked nine times in the first half of a loss at the New York Giants in October 2010. Last year, Cutler broke his right thumb late in a win over San Diego. Chicago was 7-3, but went into a free fall, finishing 8-8 and costing general manager Jerry Angelo his job.

To avoid that this season, the team signed veteran Jason Campbell, who has started 70 games in his NFL career. Campbell got the Oakland Raiders off to a 4-2 start last season. But while he was sidelined with a broken collarbone, the Raiders traded a pair of picks (a first and a second) for Carson Palmer, who closed out the rest of the season. In relief of Cutler last week, Campbell hit checkdown after checkdown, finishing 11 of 19 for 94 yards.

Campbell has attempted more than 1,500 passes since the start of 2008, with his average pass traveling 6.6 yards downfield. Of the 30 quarterbacks with at least 1,000 attempts during that time, Campbell’s average throw distance ranks as the shortest.

49ers counterpart Alex Smith suffered a concussion in last week’s tie with St. Louis and also will sit. Second-year Colin Kaepernick will get his first start. He took over for the second series in the second quarter vs. the Rams and rallied the Niners in the fourth quarter, even running for a 7-yard touchdown. He finished 11 for 17 for 117 yards with three sacks.

Two of the NFL’s top defenses will meet in this one. San Francisco leads the NFL allowing 127 points (14.1 per game) and Chicago ranks second with 133 points allowed (14.8 per game).  The 49ers rank in the top three in the NFC in all three defensive yardage categories: total yards per game (292.1, first), passing yards per game (196.8, third) and rushing yards per game (95.3, third).  The Bears, who rank second in the NFC in rushing defense (92.3) and third in total defense (307.3), lead the NFL with 30 takeaways, 19 interceptions and seven interception-return touchdowns.

The Bears have 15 interceptions when rushing four or fewer this season with five touchdowns allowed. Since the start of 2008, only one team (2008 Colts) has finished a season with more than 10 more interceptions than touchdowns using such pressure (2 TD, 13 Int).

Since the start of last season, the 49ers have allowed 1.4 yards per rush after initial contact, the best rate in the NFL. In addition, only 5.7 percent of rushes against the 49ers during that time have been without contact, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.

All four of San Francisco’s LBs are playmakers with range, but the ILB duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman can give the Bears fits. Both guys step up and fill quickly versus the inside run, and the guys up front do a nice job of occupying blockers to let these guys fly to the football without getting tied up a lot in blocks. The Bears’ backs, Matt Forte and Michael Bush, must get to the hole quickly and make some yards after contact. The biggest challenge for these backs may be in pass blocking/blitz pickup, especially if Willis and Bowman attack the A gaps.

The Niners’ Frank Gore will try to continue his success against the Bears. He’s totaled 215 yards and a touchdown on 37 rushes while the teams have split the last two meetings. San Francisco took the most recent matchup 10-6 at home on Nov. 12, 2009, when Smith and Cutler faced off on national television.

WAGERWEB.COM ODDS: Niners -3 (35)

BEARS NOTES: QB Jason Campbell has started 70 games in career … RB Matt Forté had 161 scrimmage yards in last meeting, incl. 8 catches for 120 yards … WR Brandon Marshall has 51 catches for 690 yards (115 per game) & 6 TDs in past 6 … Defense has 7 INT-TDs, tied for 3rd most in season in NFL history. CB Charles Tillman leads NFL with 7 FFs & is tied for NFL lead with LB Lance Briggs with 2 INT-TDs. In past 2 on MNF, Tillman has 2 FFs & 25-yard INT-TD & Briggs has 2 FFs & 74-yard INT-TD. Since entering NFL in 2003, Tillman has 35 FFs, most by DB. Is only player with 30 INTs (32) & 30 FFs in that span. CB Tim Jennings leads NFL with 8 INTs, incl. 3 games with 2 INTs. DE Julius Peppers had 2 sacks in only game at SF (11/14/04 with Car.).

NINERS NOTES: Head coach Jim Harbaugh was QB for Chi. from 1987-93 … QB Alex Smith has 4 TDs, 0 INTs & 123.7 rating in past 2 MNF starts. In career, SF is 14-0 when he starts & has 100 rating (min. 15 att.). RB Frank Gore aims for 3rd in row vs. Chi. with 100 rush yards. Is only player since 2006 with 10,000 scrimmage yards (10,175) & 50 TDs (54) … WR Michael Crabtree has 3 TDs in past 2. Has 4 TDs in 5 career Monday games. Since 2009 (incl. playoffs), TE Vernon Davis leads NFC TEs with 34 TDs. WR Randy Moss has 86 rec. vs. Chi., his most vs. opp. … 49ers lead NFL allowing 14.1 points per game (127 points). Incl. playoffs, LB Aldon Smith has 25.5 sacks in past 24, incl. 2 sacks last week. Since 2007, LB Patrick Willis is only NFC player with 15 sacks (17) & 6 INTs (6). LB NaVorro Bowman has sack in 2 of past 3.

WAGERWEB.COM TRENDS: Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games. Bears are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games in November. Bears are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Monday games. 49ers are 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games in Week 11. 49ers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games after accumulating more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game. 49ers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC.

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