Another week…another chance for the underdog Bears to make a statement to the rest of the league. It’ll feel like a playoff atmosphere at Soldier Field, something the locals haven’t seen this late in the season since 2006.
I can think of enough good reasons why the Bears could either win or lose. Here’s why…
The Bears should win…
- The Patriots are young and banged up on defense. There’s no Rodney Harrison, Teddy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel or Asante Samuel. They start a rookie cornerback, Devin McCourty, and their starting rookie LB Brandon Spikes will miss the game due to a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Their leading sackman, Mike Wright, is out with an injury. They’ll also be without cornerback Jonathan Wilhite.
- The Bears should be able to make the Patriots offense one-dimensional. While BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are nice players (both are averaging over 4.3 yards per carry), they won’t be productive on the ground vs. the Bears 2nd-ranked rush defense.
- The Bears have Devin Hester and the Patriots don’t.
- Bill Bilichick is worried about Jay Cutler’s legs. Rather than force passes that aren’t there, Cutler’s using his legs to keep drives alive. That added dimension gives Bilichick’s young D something else to think about.
- The intangibles are in the Bears’ favor: They’re playing at home as underdogs, so they can revel in the ‘no-respect’ theme. The Pats are coming off a big win on a short week and may not be fully recharged, physically or mentally.
The Bears should lose…
- Cutler hasn’t performed well vs. 3-4 defenses in his career, and the Pats are led by defensive mastermind Bill Bilichick, who’s made a lot of good quarterbacks look bad.
- Tom Brady is on an absolute tear. He’s coming off two consecutive 4-TD games while throwing zero (0) INTs. For the season, he’s tossed 27 touchdowns compared to only 4 picks.
- The Pats offense loves to dink and dunk their way down the field. The Bears Cover-2 defense is based on keeping plays in front of them and not giving up the homerun. I’m guessing Brady will succeed at taking what the Bears defense gives him.
- After it appeared to be stabilizing just in time for the playoff run, the Bears O-line reverted to early season form vs. the Lions. They allowed 4 sacks to the Kyle Vanden Bosch-less Lions D, including 3 alone by Cliff Avril. The Patriots don’t have a premier pass rusher, but they have 8 guys who’ve recorded a sack.
- The Bears, who only have 2 takeaways in their last 3 games, face a Patriots offense that’s only turned the ball over 9 times this year – and none during their 4-game winning streak. If the Bears don’t get a turnover on Sunday, it could be a long day.
While Chicago should put points on the board, Brady will outduel Cutler and manage to keep the Patriots ahead for most of the game, including the end when it matters most.
A loss to an AFC opponent wouldn’t be the end of the world. And at worst, the Bears would come out of the weekend tied with the Pack (who play the Lions) for first place in the North.