The San Francisco 49ers have not won on the road this season, a dramatic decline from the past four years under Jim Harbaugh and with Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator (“defense travels”) in which they were 6-2, 5-3, 6-2 and 4-4. They and the Washington Redskins, who come to Soldier Field next Sunday, are the only teams winless (0-5) on the road to this point in 2015.
That is likely to continue Sunday but it will not be as simple as just settling on a final score.
For one thing, the Bears have been so shackled by injuries on offense that they rank only tied for 24th in scoring at 21 per game and have scored more than 23 in just two games this season (Detroit, St. Louis).
Adding to the stickiness is that the 49ers have allowed 20 or fewer points in six of their 11 games, and two of those were a win over the Minnesota Vikings (20-3) and last week’s 19-13 taffy-pull with the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL’s No. 1 scoring team.
All of which points to another Bears game that will be hanging in the balance into the fourth quarter. It behooves the Bears to have gotten in front of the 49ers after three quarters, being 2-1 when leading after three quarters vs. 3-5 when trailing after three. The Bears do not score especially well but neither do the 49ers, who were shut out in their last two fourth quarters but allowed Seattle and Arizona each just six points in the final 15 minutes.
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]
But the 49ers are allowing more than 400 yards of offense in road games and have, in those five games, allowed 43, 47, 30, 27 and 29 points. The Bears haven’t scored more than 23 points in any home game this season and, “This is a whole different defense, a whole different array of problems we have this week,” said quarterback Jay Cutler, “so we’ve got to worry about that.”
Look for the Bears to stifle a bad 49ers offense and convert turnovers into decisive points.
Prediction: Bears 27, San Francisco 13