After failing to rally on the road in Detroit last weekend, the Chicago Bears return to the Windy City for a two-game home stand. They welcome in the New Orleans Saints, who are 4-0, coming off a dismantling of the previously unbeaten Miami Dolphins on Monday night. Can Chicago put itself on the winning track? Or will the Saints continue their impressive start to the season? It’s time for a Gameday Preview.
(4-0) New Orleans Saints at
(3-1) Chicago Bears
Switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme, Rob Ryan has re-invented a Saint defense that was historically bad in 2012. In 2013? The Saints rank 7th in total yards and 5th in points allowed. Yeah, that’s a turnaround. Edge rusher Cameron Jordan fits extremely well in this type of scheme, making better use of the former first round pick. Rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro has been used like Charles Woodson was in Green Bay, playing in a variety of positions. He’ll be waiting for any errant, lofty passes from Jay Cutler over the middle of the field. Jabari Greer and Keenan Lewis are the Saints corners, who have stepped up their play in 2013. Chicago must use its short passing game to chew up cheap yards on this defense early. Get into manageable third downs and actually convert them, unlike last week’s debacle. Matt Forte should have a big day out of the backfield, both as a runner and receiver. That being said, the Bears should see success up the middle with Michael Bush in short yardage situations. The Saint defense is good, but it’s not overly physical, from what I’ve seen.
Brees has a few specific weapons that the Bears need to be concerned with. Tight end Jimmy Graham, NFC Offensive Player of the Month in September, sits right on top of that list. His ability to jump up and grab whatever Brees throws his way is uncanny and presents a match-up problem for any team’s pass coverage. When the Saints get into the red zone, I fully expect to see a version of what the Patriots did to Tony Gonzalez last Sunday night. They just took two big linebackers and jammed the tight end at the line, not allowing him to run into the endzone. Darren Sproles is a wee little running back, but one that can wreck defenses if he can get into open space. Catching passes out of the backfield, tosses, and punt returns are just a few of the ways Sean Payton gets the ball into Sproles’ hands. Last week the Bears had trouble tackling Reggie Bush, so this week they’ll need to wrap up the smaller Sproles and not let him scamper freely. And receiver Marques Colston is one of those big-bodied receivers that the Bears usually defend well, but if they’re distracted by Graham they might lose track of Colston. That would be a mistake. But Charles Tillman should have him most of the game.
And as well ALL know, Drew Brees is pretty short for an NFL quarterback, so his passes can be tipped/deflected at the line of scrimmage. Chicago’s defense should have been practicing that all week so that if the pressure doesn’t get to Brees, the pass can still be interrupted. If they don’t, Drew can make you pay dearly.
New Orleans is a one point road favorite.
I’m not feeling Chicago’s chances today. This isn’t the old Saints defense that would let teams run up the score on them. I think New Orleans picks up the win.
How many heart attacks will Joe suffer?
All of them. Between possible Drew Brees bombs and Darren Sproles kick/punt returns, there will be more than enough heart attacks to go around.
Message to the Bears
New Orleans has proven their legitimacy. You have a chance at home to prove yours.
I’m going to immediately detach before watching this game. If I’m not invested, a loss won’t crush my soul.
Bear Down and Happy Jay Cutler Day!