On Monday Night Football, the San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1) and the Chicago Bears (7-2) will face off in a physical contest for NFC supremacy.
Headlining this game will be the 49ers No. 3 ranked defense versus the Bears No. 5 ranked defense. With two hard-hitting, fly-around defenses, this match-up is as smash-mouth as it gets. While the Niners would have had the clear cut edge a year ago, it's the Bears that have impressing in most major defensive categories.
The Bears rank first in the NFL in interceptions with an astounding 19; seven of which went for touchdowns -- also a league-high. They are the most efficient team when it comes to getting their hands on the football and creating opportunities. With Pro Bowl caliber play from two cornerbacks, Chicago has had a major edge containing the pass.
By noticeable margin, the Bears lead the NFL in pass deflections with 75. And Chicago's 30 combined takeaways blows San Francisco's 13 out of the water.
However, the Niners have an edge when it comes to points allowed. San Francisco's unit is more about three-and-outs; forcing incomplete passes and stopping the run. They have not been the same defense that finished with nearly 40 takeaways a year ago.
This does not mean the 49ers aren't capable of showing up and creating problems for the Bears offense, but they will have to keep pace with Chicago's defense. Brian Urlacher and the Bears defense can be expected to slow down this offensive attack by the Niners, so the 49ers D cannot afford to get behind.
Whether there are a lot or a little, fans can expect turnovers to be at a premium.
Both teams will be attacking the football on defense, and doing everything in their power to secure it on offense. This is one of those games where the winner of the turnover margin will likely walk away the victor.
The problem for the 49ers is, the Bears have so many defensive playmakers. With guys like Major Wright, Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers and Tim Jennings, San Francisco's offense could be in for a long night. The 49ers defense has been fairly quiet in the takeaway category, but in Week 11, the onus is on them to step up.
Alex Smith and the San Francisco offense can be expected to take care of the football, but the 49ers D should not wait until it's too late to make a play. The Bears and 49ers will be trading punches for sixty minutes, during which, ball security will be the X-factor.