Most Chicago Bears fans are rather happy that embattled head coach Matt Nagy might not on the sideline for Sunday's home game vs. the San Francisco 49ers – he has COVID -- because Bears Nation is so down on Nagy and his offense. The defense has played well this year but could be down three Pro Bowlers: Linebacker Khalil Mack expected out, and fellow LB Robert Quinn and end Akiem Hicks are both in question. Chicago had been +3 at Caesars Sportsbook but is +3.5 following the Mack news.
Mack, the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the Raiders, six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro, has been playing through a foot injury, barely practicing, and that may have been evident in the Week 7 blowout loss to the Bucs as Mack's streak of five straight games with a sack ended.
So, Mack will sit at least Sunday and could land on injured reserve to get right. If he does go on IR, Mack would miss four weeks but three games as Chicago is on the bye in Week 10. Mack is tied for seventh in the NFL with 6.5 sacks and also leads the team with six tackles for loss.
Quinn, a two-time Pro Bowler, was a free-agent mega-bust in 2020 but has bounced back big this year with 5.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and a forced fumble but missed Week 7 on the COVID list – he did test positive. Not yet clear if Quinn can play Sunday.
Hicks, a 2018 Pro Bowler, has missed two of the past three with a groin injury, including Week 7; Hicks is in the final year of his contract and there's speculation he could be traded ahead of next Tuesday's trade deadline. He has 1.5 sacks but often takes up double-teams to help out Mack/Quinn.
Chicago's 38-3 loss in Tampa last Sunday was the Bears' most lopsided since 2014, but they have twice rebounded from 20-point losses to win their next game this year. It's a pseudo-short week for the Niners as they lost at home on Sunday night to Indianapolis in Week 7 and now have the 10 a.m. Pacific time kickoff in Chicago.
Despite struggling mightily in the loss to the Colts with turnovers, Chicago-area native Jimmy Garoppolo will start at quarterback. Coach Kyle Shanahan did say that rookie Trey Lance would return to practice this week and possibly come in for a few plays against the Bears despite dealing with a knee injury. If Jimmy G struggles and is pulled or gets hurt, it could be an all-rookie matchup between Lance and Justin Field, who comes off a five-turnover game in the loss to the Bucs.
San Francisco has nine "upset" losses since the start of last season, three more than any other team. The Niners are just 1-9 ATS in their past 10 as favorites but this writer backed them at -3.
With a total of 39.5, this could close at the lowest of the season, which was 39 in Patriots-Texans in Week 5 – although if the Bears are without Quinn and Hicks, too, that 39.5 may rise.
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