The San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears square off on Sunday in a Week 16 contest featuring one team competing for a first round bye in the playoffs, and the other in the hunt for a top five pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. And yet, it might not be so clear who to pick in this game.
The 49ers have won two straight as home underdogs, and wrap up their home schedule as a four-point underdog. It feels somewhat similar to last season, with a starting quarterback getting hot in December. Nick Mullens is not Jimmy Garoppolo, but he’s putting up some huge numbers entirely out of the blue. The defense is starting to round into form, and it could make for an interesting matchup against a Bears team with a dominant defense and shaky offense.
I chatted with Windy City Gridiron writer Jeff Berckes to get his thoughts on how this game shakes out. He has concerns about the Bears’ issues on the road, coupled with coming off a huge road win over the Green Bay Packers that helped them clinch the division.
The Bears finished their regular season home schedule at 7-1. They’re only 3-3 on the road and have lost absolute heartbreakers to the Packers (23-24), Dolphins (31-28 OT), and Giants (27-30 OT) – games where the defense could have closed it out but failed to for one reason or another. This is still a young team trying to learn how to win games. While I can explain away those losses as having to do with weather or a backup QB, it’s the difference between this team sitting on a bye in the playoffs and playing on Wildcard Weekend. Until the Bears consistently show up on the road and put away teams that they appear to be better than, road games will worry me.
Plus, if you consider the fact that the Bears just clinched the division against the rival Packers on Sunday, a trip across the country against a team with a not-so-good record sure feels like a potential trap game. I’m not a fan of that term as I think it’s overused, but man, it sure feels like the Bears could lose focus and look ahead to Minnesota in week 17 or the playoff game. With all that said, I think 3.5 points is a good spread and it is fair to think this will be a close game. My hope is that it doesn’t come down to who has the better kicker, because if Bears fans could take one player off your team, a lot would choose to bring back Robbie Gould (DeForest Buckner is the right answer in my opinion, but I’d guess that Gould would be the most popular response).
I have been hesitant on making a pick for this game. I said earlier today I would take the points with the 49ers, and that’s how I am continuing to lean. I decided a few weeks back to include the 49ers matchup each week in my SuperContest picks, and that will continue this week. I see one of two results on Sunday. The 49ers win a really close game, potentially with a fitting Robbie Gould field goal, or they get thumped by the Bears. Chicago’s big win last week to clinch the division and then traveling to Santa Clara is why I think I’m going to take the points.
Who you got?
The 49ers are a 4-point underdog, who you got?
This poll is closed
49ers lose by 5 or more points
49ers lose by 1-to-4 points
49ers win outright