Alex Smith is out. Jay Cutler is out.
Crunch all the other stats and numbers and trends you want, but this is the most critical handicapping data for the Week 11 Monday Nighter between the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears.
"True, the Bears have lost seven in a row in San Francisco dating back to 1987, but the biggest factor tonight is the play of Bears backups Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com. The line opened last week at -4.5 for the 49ers but surged to -7 at one shop.
Another handicapping expert said you can throw out historical stats and trends, even impressive ones that show both teams excelling on Monday Night.
"The 49ers are 7-1-1 ATS in nine Monday Night battles and the Bears are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10, but this will be a test for the Bears defense to keep this game close enough for Campbell to win it," said Jeff Grant of SportsbookReview.com. "Will Kaepernick be under strict guidelines to run the ball and grind the clock and therefore making this a possible UNDER play?"
After giving up six points or less in four of its last five games heading into last Sunday's game, the 49ers had a rare off-day defensively and allowed 24 points to the St. Louis Rams. They also scored 24 points despite losing Smith with a concussion, resulting in a 24-24 tie; the first tie in the NFL since 2008. San Francisco is now 6-2-1 SU and 5-4 ATS on the season.
Chicago also received bad news on the injury front last Sunday when Cutler left Sunday night's game with a concussion. The Bears couldn't get the offense going without him as they lost 13-6 at home against the Houston Texans.
The loss brought Chicago to 7-2 SU and 5-3-1 ATS on the season and broke Chicago's six-game winning streak. Campbell will start for Chicago while 2011 draftee Kaepernick will go for the 49ers.
With nearly identical records and defensive statistics, assuming both Cutler and Smith are out, this game will likely come down to which quarterback plays better and makes less mistakes.
San Francisco has the edge in rushing (170.2 rushing yards per game to Chicago's 127 rushing yards per game) and home field where the 49ers are 13-3-1 SU and 12-4-1 ATS over their last 17 games.
These factors likely went in to determining San Francisco as the favorite early in the week, but we can't justify turning down five points on the Bears here.
Jason Campbell is a capable backup, and in a game where points will likely be at a premium with two outstanding defenses, a close final score seems inevitable, making the Bears a solid play with the points.
Monday Night Football PICK: Chicago +7 (courtesy of PickShark.com)