Thursday night appetizer: Chicago at San Fran
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 11, 2009
The weakest season in memory for marquee games takes a step up this week with a series of pivotal contests.
The Week 10 slate features Dallas-Green Bay, a replay of the top NFC game of 2007 and one in which the under-achieving Packers will attempt to get back into the playoff picture; the inter-conference Philadelphia-San Diego battle between two teams that still harbor high hopes; the huge Cincy-Pittsburgh AFC North showdown; and, of course, the New England-Indy donnybrook Sunday night.
The week kicks off with a game that actually has some playoff implications: the loser is toast, while the winner tonight still has a shot at the postseason.
Chicago at San Francisco (-2.5)
These teams define mediocrity this year. Their combined 7-9 record speaks volumes, as does their standings in each of our Quality Stats.
Neither team ranks higher than No. 6 (San Fran, Scoreability) in any of our indicators; neither ranks lower than No. 25 (San Fran, Offensive Hog Index).
It may come down to the battle of No. 1 pick quarterbacks who have yet to live up to expectations.
Cutler played well last week (369 yards, 3 TD) – but again there was a lot of empty production. The Bears lost, 41-21, while Chicago fans each morning must wonder what they did to offend the quarterbacking Gods so many years ago.
Alex Smith, meanwhile, threw a pick-six last week that proved the difference in a 34-27 loss at home to the Titans. He's yet to win a game in two starts and a relief effort for a team that had enjoyed a fair amount of success under unheralded Shaun Hill (10-7 as a starter).
Both teams are hard to gauge week to week: Are the Bears the team that went toe-to-toe with the defending champ Steelers back in Week 2, or the team that was smoked like a doobie at Woodstock last week? Are the 49ers the team that went toe-to-toe with the Mighty, Mighty Colts two weeks ago, or the team that was rolled like a Bavarian beer barrel by the Falcons back in Week 5?
We don't know.
But we do know this: the only major statistical advantage is in the ground game. The Bears have trouble running the ball (3.99 YPA, 22nd); the 49ers are the best in the league stopping the run (3.44 YPA, 1st).
We'll gamble that the 49ers make the Chicago offense one-dimensional and that Cutler can't overcome the handicap; while Smith, buoyed by the explosive Frank Gore, is able to make enough plays against the soft Marshmallows of the Midway.
Yes, it sucks rolling the dice with Alex Smith. But that's all we got for ya.
San Francisco 24, Chicago 20
Forearm Shiver: the CHFF Blog
- Hockey Announcer Gone Wild: You Want To Party (Maybe) With This Guy
- Best Pass Defense Ever: Ronde Barber And The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Reese Witherspoon Arrest Video: Hot, Bothered And Handcuffed
- Sam Adams In A Can, Just In Time For Summer Drinking Season
- Live From Radio City: Reporter Punks NFL Draft Fans
- The 5.0 Club: Best Rushing Teams in NFL History
- Sieves: The Worst Run Defenses In NFL History
- Monsters of the Midway: We Need The Chicago Bears More Than Ever
- Boston, Sports, Patriotism And Terror
- The 100 Stingiest Defenses In Football History
- NFL Crown Rule: Will It Dethrone Rushing King Adrian Peterson?
- Year Of The Offensive Tackle: Not Always The 'Safe' Draft Bet
- Draft Habits: NFL Teams Covet LBs, Duped By False Temptress WRs
- Big Tease: 2012 New England Patriots And NFL's History Of Offensive Failures
- Epic Fail: The Wide Receiver Draft Class Of 2012
Must See Videos