Three Things to watch, Prediction: Bears-Saints


by - Staff Writer -
Jeffrey Becker - USA Today Sports
Jeffrey Becker - USA Today Sports

The Bears are coming off their first road loss of the season on Monday, and it wasn't a pretty performance. They were flat out dominated on both sides of the ball, and they looked the part of everything but a 5-2 football team. Sunday, the Bears will match up with another formidable foe as the 4-2 New Orleans Saints head to Soldier Field for a 3:25 kick-off (FOX).

If fans thought the Rams game was a tough matchup, this game could even be tougher as the Saints are starting to play much better, winning their last three games. Not only that, but the Saints are also one of the better teams against the run, which of course, the Bears are struggling to do. Drew Brees is starting to look like the Brees of old after struggling the first month of the season.

For the Bears to win, they better come ready to play because the Saints certainly are not a team that will just lay over and die. A lot is said about the Saints record at the Superdome, but they have been one of the better road teams the past three seasons, so expect another strong showing on Sunday. Here are some things to look for in week 8.

Attack the Saints secondary: While the Saints run defense has been stout for much of the past three seasons, their secondary has not. New Orleans owns one of the worst secondaries in the NFL and is the worst when it comes to covering the deep ball. That is something the Bears need to incorporate into their offense this week.

Through seven games, fans continue to remain frustrated with the Bears lack of offensive effort. When you look at some of the talent on that side of the ball, there is no reason why they can't be better. Playcalling has been a big issue, as has the offensive line. This is a game for the Bears offense to take chances and attack the Saints secondary.

If they can at least show the ability to throw the ball, New Orleans will have a tough time covering Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller. How often the Bears take chances will be another thing.

Disrupt Brees and take him out of rhythm: Brees will go down as one of the top five quarterbacks of all time and may wind up even higher than that. The numbers and success back that up as he is nearing the end of his playing career. The key to beating the Saints is getting pressure on Brees early and forcing him to be off rhythm.

As good as Brees is, he is not a good scrambler and tends to stay in the pocket. The quicker you can get to him and force him to make tough throws, the better. He isn't one to tuck the ball and run, so if Chicago can get him out of the pocket, they have a chance to keep him in check. Brees also tends to release the ball faster than anyone, so coverage will be a huge key.

Always account for Alvin Kamara: While the passing attack is ultimately going to be the deciding factor for the Saints offense, Alvin Kamara is the engine that makes it go. He is a great running back out of the backfield and is one of the better receivers on the team also, so he is involved in the offense through a variety of ways.

When he goes, the Saints offense goes, so it will be crucial for the Bears to know precisely where he is on the field. Kamara may have a tough time running the ball this week, but he will still be actively involved in the passing game, which could spell trouble. The defense, especially the linebackers, need to be ready on every play to take him out of the game.

Prediction: This game will be another tough matchup for the Bears because they are clearly in the midst of the most challenging part of their schedule. So Far, the Bears have held their own, going 2-1 across their last three games, all against strong teams. The Saints will be another challenging task.

The key to this game could be identical to how they beat the Buccaneers a few weeks ago. They have an aging hall of fame quarterback nearing the end of his career as he is one dimensional. The sooner the Bears can disrupt him, the better. I expect this game to be another barn burner, but I think the Bears bounce back with a nice 23-20 OT win.

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