The San Francisco 49ers will be searching for their second win of the season in week 13 when they travel to Chicago to battle the Bears.
Things haven’t gone as planned under the watch of the new two-man regime, GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, as the Niners look to add to an abysmal 1-10 mark.
Chicago isn’t much better as they started the year off at 3-4 and have dropped four games in a row. Rookie franchise passer Mitchell Trubisky will be under center again for the 3-8 Bears who hope to defend their home turf.
The Bears are just 2-4 at Soldier Field, however, and are 0-1 against the spread when favored at home in 2017. Chicago dons the rare “favorite” label, per Vegas, while they specifically enter with a -3 point spread advantage at top NFL betting sites like Bovada.
Despite these teams totaling a laughable four wins between them, this is still going to be a game to tune into. Not only will Trubisky be on hand for fans and bettors, but the Niners will also be pushing out quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for his first start with the team:
More QB news: #49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Jimmy Garoppolo will start Sunday vs the #Bears.
Kyle Shanahan had been resistant for weeks in regards to revealing his plans for Garoppolo, at one point suggesting the former New England Patriots passer might not play in 2017 at all.
Garoppolo’s insertion to the lineup was expedited by a C.J. Beathard injury, while San Francisco’s place in the standings leaves little reason to avoid Garoppolo any longer.
Fans got a small taste of what Jimmy G can do in mop-up time last week when the former Pats backup tossed a touchdown in the waning seconds.
Bettors will be wondering whether that late-game magic is enough to roll with Garoppolo and company in Chicago.
San Francisco 49ers (+3)
Chicago Bears (-3)
The Niners have not been a team to rally behind this year, but they do deserve some credit. Shanahan has pieced together an offense that at least moves the ball most games, while the 49ers as a whole have been quite competitive.
San Francisco has been a respectable 5-6 against the spread in 2017 and 5-5 when chosen as the underdog. The 49ers have found a way to be even more competitive on the road, as they’ve also gone 3-1 as road underdogs this season.
That all has me intrigued, but the kicker here is the 49ers finally have a competent passer under center. Garoppolo still may not be the answer to what ails the Niners long-term, but Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard were inferior talents.
The year prior, the 49ers were hanging their hat on Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. On paper, even with a small sample size of three starts in New England, Jimmy G has those guys beat too.
Obviously, Garoppolo is working in a new system and isn’t surrounded by amazing talent, but a competent quarterback can change things for the better.
It doesn’t help that he’ll be debuting on the road against a better than advertised Chicago defense, of course.
While certainly not a trash unit, the Bears aren’t exactly elite either. The Bears are merely a middle of the pack defense in raw yardage allowed against the run, while they rank 21st against the pass.
Chicago has some pesky talent up front that remains their driving force, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this pass rush ranks inside the top-10 for sacks. That could be a problem for the Niners who have given up 35 sacks – a number that would put them in the bottom 5 in the league for pass protection.
While that could be an issue, there are three reasons why the 49ers feel like a great underdog to back this week.
Jimmy G is the most obvious reason. He showed poise in brief duty with the Patriots and if he truly has Shanny’s system down, he’s going to offer a level-headed (and talented) arm the Niners haven’t had in some time.
In addition, Garoppolo’s presence is only going to aid a Niners rushing attack that has the chance to be rather productive. The Bears aren’t the easiest matchup on the ground, but Carlos Hyde can dominate any game and with the threat to pass in place, running lanes could be easier to find on Sunday.
The third aspect favoring the Niners is Chicago’s one-dimensional offensive attack. Mitchell Trubisky looked frozen in space in a crushing 31-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week and he continues to have issues with his development.
The steady progress just hasn’t been there, even though there have been flashes of brilliance for the talented rookie.
The name of the game for Chicago is still going to be to dominate the ground game. That is quite plausible, considering top running back Jordan Howard heads the NFL”s 8th best rush offense and will be going up against the third-worst run defense in all of football.
If you’re just looking at San Francisco’s run defense, I’d agree this is a bad position for the Niners. However, with their offense hopefully being lifted up by Garoppolo, I think their defense will be able to be a bit more aggressive.
This could lead to the Niners selling out against the run and ultimately forcing Trubisky to beat them through the air. Trubisky really hasn’t been able to do that yet, so I’m not willing to bet that will happen this week.
The 49ers aren’t a good team in terms of wins, but they’re quite competitive and finally get a huge upgrade under center. I like the value you can get with them this week and I think they’re going to get win number two in a winnable matchup.
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