By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears, fresh off a 17-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers will travel to New Orleans to take on the 4-2 New Orleans Saints this coming Sunday. The Saints are coming off a 26-17 win over the Green Bay Packers. With the Bears on a winning streak, finally, and the Saints playing some great offense, this promises to be a strong matchup between two good units, the Bears’ defense and the Saints’ offense.
Before we look ahead at the game in detail, here are five key matchups that could affect the outcome.
Mitchell Trubisky vs. the Saint’s Pass Defense
The New Orleans Saints’ pass defense is ranked 21st in the league which isn’t too great, but they have had some success against the likes of Matthew Stafford and are an opportunistic defense. Mitchell Trubisky must be careful not to make mistakes against this defense.
However, the Bears don’t let him make too many mistakes thanks to the “handcuffs” they put on him.
Maybe they can take those “handcuffs” off for this game?
Fans would love that.
Chicago’s Cornerbacks vs. Drew Brees
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees can tear up an NFL defense, so this will be a huge test for the Bears. Chicago uses a three-man rotation at cornerback with Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, and Kyle Fuller. Fuller has had the hot hand lately and has done well against receivers. Amukamara has been solid while Cooper has been hurt.
They will face a tough test going up against the likes of Michael Thomas and Brandon Coleman.
To help their cornerbacks, Chicago needs to get the kind of pass pressure they got on Cam Newton going against Brees. We will look at this possibility later in the week.
Jordan Howard vs. the Saint’s Rush Defense
The Bears were a little slow with the rushing attack on Sunday against Carolina, but hopefully, they can get the ground game going again. New Orleans’ run defense is ranked 20th in the league. Chicago will need to take advantage of that and have their rushing attack to keep Brees and company off the field. If they let the Saints’ offense stay out there for too long and too often, the game will get out of hand. The Bears don’t have the offense to come back from a huge deficit, so they must keep it close.
Running Jordan Howard early and often will be a big key towards keeping this game close and possibly even giving the Bears their third win in a row.
Outside Pass Rushers vs. the Saints Offensive Tackles
We will look into this later this week, but the Saints have allowed just five sacks so far, this season. That’s impressive. On the other hand, the Bears are starting to become a team that gets good pass pressure, and they are doing it with linebackers and defensive linemen. They have had a lot of success getting to the quarterback over the last three weeks.
But they will face two tough offensive tackles Sunday. The Saints have rookie right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and left tackle Terron Armstead. Can the speed of Leonard Floyd and the power of Pernell McPhee work against Ramczyk and Armstead? Will Danny Trevathan be able to get some pressure on the quarterback?
It will have to be all-hands-on-deck for the Bears to get to Brees and take some pressure off their secondary.
Connor Barth vs. Wil Lutz
Kickers don’t go up against one another but if this game should come down to a field goal, which team has the better kicker? Can the Bears count on the shaky Connor Barth to deliver? Orr can Wil Lutz, kicking in his home stadium, come through in the clutch?
Most people’s money would be on Lutz.
Let’s hope, as Bears’ fans, it doesn’t come down to a field goal Sunday.
There will be more on this game later in the week.
Follow me on Twitter @bdietzler.