Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mining for Respect

Following an embarrassing home thrashing by the Arizona Cardinals, the Bears head out West to face Mike Singletary’s 49ers in this year’s premiere of Thursday Night Football.

The short week and a long flight “Out of Dodge” is typically a recipe for disaster, but most Bear players probably want to get back on the filed as soon as possible, so they can wash away any memories of Week 9’s debacle.

Never mind the fact that Chicago will be facing a Niners team lead by Bear legend Mike Singletary. Chicago has bigger fish to fry, as they find themselves at 4-4, tied with Green Bay and three games behind the NFC North division leading Vikings. There will be very little margin for error from this week on.

The 3-5 49ers have their own struggles to worry about, having lost four straight games. The signing of rookie and early-season holdout Michael Crabtree, along with the switch back to former number one overall draft pick Alex Smith has dome little to turn the tide for San Francisco. The Niners are just two games behind the up-and-down Cardinals, so the season is far from washout for Singletary’s crew.

If the Bears are going to out the miserable Cardinal performance behind them, they will have to find a way to run the ball effectively on offense, and slow down the Niners on defense. Chicago’s rushing “attack” has been pitiful, and on the other side of the ball, both the run and pass defense has been nonexistent.

Perhaps the best offensive strategy coming into Week 10, is for Jay Cutler to come out firing, taking advantage of the leagues 24th ranked pass defense. If Cutler can put pressure on the Niners secondary, San Francisco’s 4th ranked run defense may have to back off a bit.

Chicago’s defensive challenges may be more difficult to overcome. With a recent rash of injuries to key players, such safeties Al Afalava and Kevin Payne, the already-porous Bears D will be forced to step it up of they expect to have any chance of preventing another aerial barrage.

As eager as the Bears might be to get back to work and prove the naysayers wrong, a West Coast road victory off a short week seems unlikely. The Chicago defense will probably not yield 41 points in Week 10, but the odds will be stacked against a return to the win column.

Niners 24 Bears 17

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