San Francisco 49ers (2-4) at Chicago Bears (3-4)
I expected the 49ers to make a big leap in win total this season, after finishing 6-10 a year ago. I expected that because they were likely to have better injury luck and a better turnover margin, after finishing worst in adjusted games lost and 2nd worst in turnover margin (-11). However, the 49ers still have the league’s 4th worst turnover margin at -7 and, while their injury situation isn’t as bad as a year ago, they are still one of the more banged up teams in the league.
In total, they are missing stud tight end George Kittle, starting running back Raheem Mostert, top cornerback Jason Verrett, rotational interior defenders Javon Kinlaw and Maurice Hurst, starting linebacker Dre Greenlaw, and possibly stud left tackle Trent Williams, who is questionable to return from a one-game absence after barely practicing this week. Turnover margin is a very unpredictable stat on a week-to-week basis, so I don’t expect this team to continue struggling in the turnover margin, but their upside is capped by the amount of talent they are missing.
Still, the 49ers are better than their 2-4 record, especially since they have faced an above average schedule, with all but one of their games decided by a single score. Meanwhile, the Bears are not as good as even their mediocre 3-4 record suggests, as all four of their losses have come by at least 10 points, giving them a point differential overall of -61, which ranks just 27th in the NFL, with the five teams behind them combining for just five wins total.
The Bears’ offense continues to struggle even with Justin Fields in the lineup because he is a raw rookie and his supporting cast is mediocre at best, while their defense is not nearly the same as it once was, due to a combination of off-season losses over the past few years and players missing due to injury. The Bears should get Akiem Hicks back in the lineup this week, but they will also lose edge defender Khalil Mack, who is their most important defender. If the 49ers had Trent Williams in the lineup this week, we would be getting some line value with them, even as 4-point road favorites.
That being said, I am not planning on betting on the 49ers. Aside from the uncertainty around Williams’ status, the Bears are also in a good spot because they are coming off of a blowout loss, and should be fully focused to try to redeem themselves. Overall, teams cover at 58.0% rate the following week after a 35+ point loss all-time and this could easily be one of the Bears’ best efforts of the season. Because of that, I would only recommend the 49ers as a bet for pick ‘em purposes and if Williams is out, I would probably drop all confidence.
San Francisco 49ers 23 Chicago Bears 17
Pick against the spread: San Francisco -4