Bears, Niners Usher In Levi’s Stadium

Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears visit the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears visit the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

After an unexpected home loss in Week 1, the Chicago Bears head west Sunday to take on the San Francisco 49ers in an inter-divisional matchup on Sunday Night Football.

San Francisco will christen the brand new Levi’s Stadium when the game kicks off in Santa Clara, Calif., at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The matchup represents an early test for two sides expected to do well in this year’s run to Super Bowl XLVIX, but two sides that began the campaign in contrasting fashion.

The NFL Landscape

Facing the Buffalo Bills at home, few expected Chicago (0-1, 0-0 road) to open the season with anything less than a win. The Bills had other ideas though,

The lowly AFC East side took a 17-7 lead into halftime before owning a 20-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Bears drove into field goal range to tie the game with 30 ticks left on the clock and momentum looked to be making a swing in the Bears’ favor. It was the road team that scored the game-winning field goal.

Quarterback Jay Cutler finished the game with 349 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns and offsetting interceptions. He could be without a trio of receivers for Sunday’s game though (see below).

The shock result was by no means debilitating, especially with the Green Bay Packers – Chicago’s closest rival in the eyes of the bookmakers heading into the season – losing on the preceding Thursday, but eyebrows were raised. The Detroit Lions’ dominant performance against the New York Giants also suggested that the Bears may have another opponent to watch out for.

Some are already suggesting that Sunday’s trip to northern California is a must win scenario, although that might seem a little like a knee-jerk reaction, but then again, a 0-2 start doesn’t lend itself to promise.

San Francisco (1-0, 0-0 home) had no such issues on the opening weekend, making the trip to North Texas and cruising past the turnover-happy Dallas Cowboys.

Now Jim Harbaugh’s side, currently the second favorite to win the NFC championship, will look to make its first ever regular season game at Levi’s Stadium a successful one.

Head-to-Head

The Bears will be hoping that a change in stadium brings a change in fortune as far as their trips to Northern California go.

While the two teams are tied 29-29-1 in the all-time regular season head-to-head, Chicago is just 12-22 when playing on the road against the 49ers.

In the 44-year history of Candlestick Park, Chicago compiled a measly 4-12 record. Things didn’t start off so bad. In the early years of the stadium, the Bears compiled a 4-4 record, culminating with a 26-10 victory en route to a Super Bowl championship in 1985. Since, the Bears are 0-8 in San Francisco, a record they’d love to change on Sunday.

Chicago took a 32-7 victory the last time these two sides met, a showdown in San Francisco back on November 19, 2012. The Niners have won two straight in the series.

Injury Report

Chicago comes into the game without center Roberto Gaza (ankle) and left guard Matt Slauson (ankle), which means the offensive line, and Cutler by extension, will be in for a long day. The wide receiver corps could also be in trouble, with Josh Morgan (groin) listed as doubtful and Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffrey (hamstring) listed as questionable. If that’s the case, expect a heady doe of Matt Forte out of the backfield.

For San Francisco, cornerbacks Tramaine Brock (toe) and Chris Culliver (concussion) are listed as questionable after leaving Week 1’s game in Dallas. Rookie Dantae Johnson and veteran Perrish Cox did a solid job of deputizing to close out the game. Tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring) is also questionable. Backup center Marcus Martin (knee) is out.

Check out the full injury report

Brandon Marshall is one of three Bears' receivers that could miss Sunday's game.

Brandon Marshall is one of three Bears’ receivers that could miss Sunday’s game.

Betting Report

Below you’ll find Betting Sports’ breakdown of odds and betting trends.

Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers odds for 09/14/2014

Moneyline: San Francisco (-299) opened as the favorite over Chicago (+264) on the moneyline. At the time of writing, some bookmakers have the Niners at -320.

The two sides have split the last four but the Niners’ home dominance over the Bears makes it hard to bet against the home side, but the new stadium – and its supposed inferior turf – could play a pivotal role in this one.

Spread: The spread opened at 7, where it has stuck firmly.

Chicago (0-1-0 ATS) failed to cover the spread against Buffalo in Week 1, while San Francisco (1-0-0 ATS) took care of things straight up and against the spread in Dallas.

The Bears are 0-5-0 ATS in their last five trips to San Francisco and 3-11-0 ATS in their last 14 head-to-head matchups with the Niners, which again makes it hard to bet against the home team.

Total: The total opened at 48 and has climbed as much as one-half point since.

Both teams saw the total go under in Week 1 but the over might be the smarter bet on Sunday. The over has paid out in five of the last seven head-to-head meetings between the two sides, as well as four of the last six the two teams have played in California.

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