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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Bye Week
Sunday Late

Prediction: CHI 14, SF 24

The Bears fall to 4-4 on the season with the beatdown handed them by the visiting Cardinals last week. That makes losing three of the last four for the Bears who once upon a time beat the Steelers (week two). The Bears are only 1-3 on the road. The 49ers are 3-5 and are also on an exploration of what a free fall is like with their own four game losing streak. They are only 2-2 at home. This game is a coin flip but the 49ers are bound to turn it around and this home game is their best shot for the last month.

This is also the first Thursday night game and that too favors the home 49ers on such a short week.

Chicago Bears (4-4)
Homefield: Soldier Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @GB 15-21 +4 46
2 PIT 17-14 +3 37.5
3 @SEA 25-19 -2 37
4 DET 48-24 -10.5 38.5
5 BYE - - -
6 @ATL 14-21 +3 45.5
7 @CIN 10-45 +1 42.5
8 CLE 30-6 +11.5 39.5
9 ARI 21-41 -3 44.5
10 @SF - +3 43.5
11 PHI - - -
12 @MIN - - -
13 STL - - -
14 GB - - -
15 @BAL - - -
16 MIN - - -
17 @DET - - -
CHI at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     260, 2
RB Matt Forte 40 40  
TE Greg Olsen   30  
WR Devin Hester   80,1  
WR Earl Bennett   60  
WR Johnny Knox   30,1  
PK Robbie Gould   2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Bears started their season well and the win over the Steelers in week two was huge. But beating the Seahawks, Lions and Browns wasn't that impressive and the defense has turned to mush when facing a formidable offense. The next three games - @SF, PHI and @MIN - are challenges at the least and likely losses for the most. Jay Cutler has proven to be an upgrade but he's not been a magic wand.

Quarterback: Midway through his first season as a Bear and Jay Cutler has already thrown for 14 touchdowns. Kyle Orton only had 18 in all of last year. But Cutler has brought along a far greater likelihood of turning the ball over and has 12 interceptions on the season. Orton had that many on the entire season. But the Bears still have a shot a winning season and at least they are more interesting when they lose.

The 49ers secondary started the season well but has been only average in recent weeks. They have allowed three passers to top 300 yards and allowed multiple passing scores three times as well. Cutler on the road will need to throw more and should have at least a decent game here. Likely no more than one or two scores but the yardage should end up over 250.

Running Backs: Matt Forte continues on his American Disappointment Tour 2009 with 33 rushing yards against the visiting Cardinals but at least he had a season high six catches for 74 yards. His previous best had only been 40 yards and in road games he has been getting five or six receptions. His rushing yardage has been negligible in all but home games against the Lions or Browns. Those were also the only times he has scored this year.

The 49ers at home have been good against the run and Forte is a terrible runner anyway. Expect a decent yardage total only thanks to catching his five or six standard road receptions.

Wide Receivers: Devin Hester continues to distance himself from the other wideouts and has topped 80 yards in each of the last four games. He is tied with Johnny Knox with three touchdowns on the season. Earl Bennett has been very solid in yardage but never scores. He has been better in the road efforts and against the better teams when Cutler is forced to secondary receivers. Knox has really faded since his hot start and only had one score over the last five games and never more than 44 yards in those weeks.

The 49ers secondary has been really good at home against all but Roddy White but have not faced a good passing attack there either. Look for Hester to have a decent game and be the most likely to score. The #1 receiver is always the most probable to score against the 49ers and Bennett should see an uptick in yardage this week. I am awarding Knox with a score but lower confidence on his touchdown than Hester's.

Tight Ends: Greg Olsen ended a three game drought in a big way when he scored three times against the Cardinals and had a season high 71 yards on five catches. He has become the leading scorer for the Bears but is still inconsistent enough to be a risky play in any given week. The 49ers play far better at home against the tight ends who have not yet scored against them in San Francisco. Olsen could go off any week but this is less likely.

Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 10 28 12 3 19 17
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 18 23 20 11 26 24

San Francisco 49ers (3-5)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @ARI 20-16 +6 46
2 SEA 23-10 -1.5 39
3 @MIN 24-27 +7 40.5
4 STL 35-0 -10 37.5
5 ATL 10-45 -2.5 41
6 BYE - - -
7 @HOU 21-24 +3 44.5
8 @IND 14-18 +13 45
9 TEN 27-34 -4 41
10 CHI - -3 43.5
11 @GB - - -
12 JAC - - -
13 @SEA - - -
14 ARI - - -
15 @PHI - - -
16 DET - - -
17 @STL - - -
SF vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith     240,2
RB Frank Gore 80,1 40  
TE Vernon Davis   70,1  
WR Josh Morgan   20  
WR Jason Hill   40  
WR Michael Crabtree   50,1  
PK Joe Nedney 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: After an encouraging start to the season, the 49ers have lost their last four in a row and the last three were by a touchdown or less. The shift to a new quarterback has been positive and that should show up more this week against a softer secondary. The rest of the schedule is going to make ending .500 a big challenge but there are some improvements that are taking hold.

Quarterback: The new Alex Smith had not only scored in each game, he has a total of six touchdowns over his three games. Shaun Hill only managed five scores over six weeks and faced weaker teams than the Colts. This will be the second home game for Smith who passed for 286 yards and two scores against the visiting Titans last Sunday.

The Bears on the road have allowed at least one passing score per opponent and the last two road games gave up seven between the Falcons (2) and the Bengals (5). The last home game had Warner tossing for five scores so the Bears secondary has really been burned in just the last few games. Smith is hard to rely on for more than two scores if that much but the upside is there and the 49ers need to have a "rise up" game soon.

Running Backs: Frank Gore has been pulling his weight in the last two weeks with well over 130 total yards and a score against both the Colts and Titans. That bodes well for the offense that is finding out how to pass again. Remove the games that saw Gore get hurt and return from the injury and he's had six scores in four games played.

Most teams focus on the pass to beat the Bears but Gore has a good shot at another rushing score and decent yardage. The Bears have not faced many decent rushing attacks but had kept opponents below 100 rushing yards until Cedric Benson had 37 carries in week seven. Gore's role as a receiver has taken a definite upturn with Smith as quarterback.

Wide Receivers: Jason Hill has taken over the slot role and had two scores last week for his first significant game in the NFL. Michael Crabtree had eight targets against the Titans but only caught three for 30 yards while Josh Morgan fared even worse. Morgan had been good for decent yardage every week but has disappeared with the emergence of Alex Smith.

Once again, Crabtree is in the position most likely to score against the opponent but that did not count for much last week. I'll credit him with a score but the confidence level is low since he has never scored so far. One wideout should end up with a touchdown.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis was already becoming an elite tight end and with Alex Smith under center, it only gets better. Davis comes off a ten catch, 102 yard effort against the Titans and scored four times over the previous two games that had Smith as the starter. The Bears have allowed four tight end touchdowns over the last four games. Expect a very nice effort from Davis here with at least one score and possibly both passing touchdowns.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 20 19 29 2 21 20
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 26 13 27 21 17 10

The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
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Bye Week
Sunday Late
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