Thursday Night Football makes its debut for the 2009 season, and for the third straight year the Bears will be playing.
The good news for the Bears this week is that they get to redeem themselves from last week sooner than they normally would. After that horrendous loss at home against Arizona, that might be a bad thing actually.
The Bears are not in good shape for the division, let alone the playoffs. But there is always a chance. If they were going to make a serious run at the playoffs, it would have to be a wild card berth. So far the Bears are 0-2 against teams they trail in the wild card, Green Bay and Atlanta.
The Bears would need to win this game to qualify for a tie-breaker in case they have a shot at the wild card.
The Bears began a tough four-game stretch last Sunday against the Cardinals with a loss. Not the way you want to start those out. They now have to play at San Francisco, against Philadelphia, followed by a crucial game at Minnesota. It's looking like the Bears will have to win all three of those games to stay alive.
The 49ers started off strong, before losing their last four games to fall to 3-5.
Mike Singletary has his team well prepared every week, something Lovie Smith should start doing.
The Bears are going to have to keep an eye out for Frank Gore. The 49ers running back has already posted a 200-yard game this season, and the way the Bears defense is playing, I could run for 100 yards on them. The matchup to watch is going to be linebacker Lance Briggs going against Gore both in the run and passing game. If Briggs gets blocked off and the Bears defense cannot contain, Gore will make them pay.
The Bears need to control and fill their gaps properly in order to shut down the 49er offense.
A concern I see for the Bears is matching up with tight end Vernon Davis. The Bears really don't have a good enough cover linebacker or safety to matchup with Davis, so the defensive line will need to get pressure and force Alex Smith to get the ball out and make bad decisions.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bears success will once again depend on the run. Last week we saw the Bears throw the ball on their first eight plays. They gave the Ball to Forte early, who had a couple nice runs, but after falling behind 21-7 the Bears abandoned the run game. Something they cannot do on Thursday.
It's going to be interesting to see how Cutler fares against a 49ers' defense which has struggled, yet played well at times this season. Patrick Willis is going to cause problems for the Bears all game' we'll wait and see how the Bears handle him. If they can block him and take him out of plays, they will be successful in the air and on the ground.
This is a must win for Chicago. Get this win, and then take the next 10 days to prepare for a tough Philadelphia team followed by the Vikings.
If Chicago can get this win they will move to 5-4 and right in the middle of the wild card race. More importantly though, give this team and city some hope.
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