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Chicago Bears host New Orleans Saints in clash of titans

Julius Peppers and the Chicago Bears defense will have their work cut out for them against the New Orleans Saints this week.

Defensive end Julius Peppers and the Chicago Bears defense will have their work cut out for them against the New Orleans Saints this week.

After a brutal loss at Detroit in Week 4, the Chicago Bears (3-1) return to the friendly confines of Soldier Field, where they will host the undefeated New Orleans Saints. This should be an extremely difficult game for Chicago, as New Orleans brings a dominant offense, lead by quarterback Drew Brees, and a feisty defense into town.

If there is one saving grace for the Bears, it is that the Saints played on Monday Night Football last week and therefore had a short week to get physically and mentally prepared for a difficult road game. Additionally, the Saints have only played on the road once so far this year, in which they struggled to a 16-14 win over the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is giddy at the thought of facing the Saints' porous run defense.

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is giddy at the thought of facing the New Orleans Saints’ porous run defense.

But none of that matters once the teams hit the field on Sunday, when we should see a hard-fought game between two teams that appear to be serious playoff contenders in the NFC. Future tiebreakers for playoff berths or positioning could be on the line.

Run the ball

The Saints have a great offense featuring a top quarterback in Drew Brees, the league’s best tight end in Jimmy Graham, and an abundance of secondary weapons who can hurt opponents in the passing game. They have scored over 30 points in both of the past two weeks and will be difficult for the Chicago Bears defense to stop.

The best defense for the Bears here might be a good offense. The Saints’ biggest weakness is their run defense, which is giving up 112.3 yards per game (22nd in the NFL) and 5.5 yards per carry (dead last).

Conveniently, the Chicago Bears boast a strong rushing attack thanks to running back Matt Forte, who has 320 rushing yards (fifth) and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry through four weeks. Running the ball successfully with Forte and backup Michael Bush will enable the Bears to eat up clock, keeping Drew Brees and company off the field.

A few turnovers from Tim Jennings and the Chicago Bears defense would be huge.

A few turnovers from Tim Jennings and the Chicago Bears defense would be huge.

Win the turnover battle

The other key for the Chicago Bears offense in this game will be avoiding turnovers. They lost to Detroit largely because they turned the ball over four times, and they also turned it over four times against Minnesota in Week 2. Turning it over even twice against New Orleans will severely limit Chicago’s chances of winning.

On the defensive side, a few turnovers by the Chicago Bears defense would be extremely helpful. Forcing turnovers would both put the brakes on the high-flying New Orleans offense and also give the offense a good chance of scoring.

The Bears have forced three or more turnovers in every game so far this year and lead the league with 14 takeaways, while the Saints have only turned it over five times so far this year. Chicago has to like its chances of pulling out a win if they can get two or three turnovers from the Saints while holding on to the ball themselves.

Sure tackling

One of the primary ways the Saints offense hurts opponents is by amassing yards after the catch. They have already picked up an astounding 456 yards after the catch this year, a total that is over 30 percent of their receiving yards. The primary weapons here are tight end Jimmy Graham (128 yards after catch on 27 receptions) and running backs Darren Sproles (103 YAC on 23 receptions) and Pierre Thomas (105 YAC on 19 receptions).

The Chicago Bears must make sure they tackle well on short passes to prevent them from turning into long gains.

You can't stop Jimmy Graham, you can only hope to contain him.

You can’t stop Jimmy Graham, you can only hope to contain him.

Jimmy Graham . . . oh-oh

New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham has arguably been the best player in the NFL so far this year.

He has caught 27 of 43 targets (63 percent) for 458 yards (17 yards per catch) and six touchdowns through four games. He is second in the NFL in receiving yards and tied for first in touchdowns.  Even more impressive is that he is doing this as a tight end; the next best tight end is at 364 yards and five touchdowns, while the fifth-most receiving yards for a tight end (240) is barely half his total.

Graham is big (6’7”, 265 pounds) and fast (4.53-second 40-yard dash), and is a matchup nightmare for opponents. Linebackers can’t run with him, while defensive backs are too small to prevent him from going up and getting the ball.

Chicago’s best bet might be to line cornerback Charles Tillman up on Graham; Tillman is 6’2” and athletic enough that he might be able to at least slow Graham down a bit. But in reality there is no stopping Jimmy Graham completely, and it will take a team effort by the defense to help keep him from having another huge day.

The Chicago Bears need big days from defensive tackles Nate Collins (pictured) and Stephen Paea.

The Chicago Bears need big days from defensive tackles Nate Collins (pictured) and Stephen Paea.

Defensive tackles must dominate

One weakness New Orleans has shown so far this year is their offensive line. They have given up 12 sacks of Drew Brees and failed to establish a run game (81.3 yards per game, 3.4 yards per carry).

The interior of the offensive line has particularly been troublesome. Defensive tackles Nate Collins and Stephen Paea have an opportunity to wreak havoc here, as they can disrupt the passing game by getting to Brees or simply getting pressure and putting their hands up to bat down passes.  Collins and Paea have both shown flashes of dominance this year but have largely been mediocre.  Chicago could really use a big game from both of them here.

Special teams needs to step up

The Chicago Bears special teams, long known for being one of the best in the NFL, has had some issues this year.

They gave up a 105 yard return kickoff touchdown to Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in Week 2 that almost cost them the game, and a 55-yard punt return to Micheal Spurlock last week that helped Detroit break that game open in the second quarter.

Punter Adam Podlesh is struggling, averaging only 43.5 yards per punt so far this season.

New Orleans has a dangerous punt returner in mighty mite Darren Sproles, who is averaging 9.3 yards per punt return. Podlesh and the punt coverage unit need to work together to ensure they don’t give up big returns to Sproles and good field position to New Orleans. The Saints have a dangerous enough offense without the aid of good field position, and giving them less distance to the end zone is a recipe for disaster.

Prediction

This is a difficult game to predict, as a lot of factors weigh in on my mind here. New Orleans has looked like the better team recently, but their one foray away from home didn’t go so well.

Meanwhile, one has to believe that quarterback Jay Cutler will bounce back and play better than he did at Ford Field last week. I think the Chicago Bears finally establish a bit of a pass rush and make just enough plays to hang around. The Bears win another close game in the fourth quarter.

Final score: Chicago Bears 30, New Orleans Saints 27

585 comments
Lions on top of the NFCN as expected
Lions on top of the NFCN as expected

Richardson has rushed for 95 yards on 33 carries for 2.8 yards per carry in two games since the Colts acquired him from Cleveland on Sept. 18.

The Browns have rushed for 180 yards on 62 carries for 2.9 yards per carry in two games since they traded TR to the Colts for a 1st round pick.

bp.
bp. moderator

So, good game in Tallahassee.

natradamus
natradamus moderator

I have had this friend for years-  I used to try and date her, lived with her for a year, etc.

talking to her last night, she was stating that she wanted a serious relationship, so I kinda moved in with the 'let me take you out sometime"

the wedding before (about a month ago) for one reason or another she was balling in another one of my friends trucks (guy friend).  she slept in his tent- but I am not sure exactly what went down

after I had asked her out-  she danced with the other guy- and I had to leave the wedding early, but she was pretty drunk by the time I left.  I am thinking he is going for her too, by the impression that I got- but I had to leave early.

fucking a....  The girl is gorgeous-  like prom queen everyone wants her.  when she gets drunk-  sometimes she seems to get easy.  but she is the sexiest- awesome girl that is still single at 27.  I know I got my baggage- but I am debating whether I want to put myself through the 'is she cheating on me' shit


First Place Saints!!!!
First Place Saints!!!! moderator

now the weather is suppose to be in-climate in Chi-town. Wouldnt worry me had the Saints established a run game this year, but as it is...my sense of dread has increased. 

natesweet
natesweet moderator

I guess the NFL was not convinced Bostic was playing dirty the way some Lions fans are.

natradamus
natradamus moderator

@Buhlitz browns lost there starting QB for the year after richardson got traded.  coincidence?  more that likely

0125
0125 moderator

Looks arent everything. Is she promiscuous? If so, does that turn you on? 

0125
0125 moderator

It will precipitate during the game? 

0125
0125 moderator

They cheer for a dirty player...

natradamus
natradamus moderator

@I'm a fan of teams that choke. i wouldn't say promiscuous-  but she always has the ability to take anyone home that she wants.  she also has a great personality-  is caring, etc.

bp.
bp. moderator

@natradamus Sounds like you are emotionally invested.  In which case, avoid that one unless you see some signs that she is going to grow up, and want to do that with you.

On the other hand, I never discourage anyone from having some fun if they want, and are not going to get broken up over things if they don't turn out rosey.  Especially at the age you are indicating you are currently at.

bp.
bp. moderator

@Look At My Ring @Natesweet @___bp___ Yeah, the arrogance thing rings hollow.  Other notable arrogant fucks:


Rodgers

Cutler

Every Wide Receiver Ever

Larry Bird

Fuck it, this would take too long.

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

@Natesweet @Look At My Ring @___bp___ Michael jordan is as arrogant as they come....have you heard his Hall of fame speech....and another guy named kobe bryant...He's never been a trash talker...and if the guy says his goal is to be the greatest ever, I don't see that as a slight to the alltime greats but just a guy who believes in his on abilities, nothing wrong with that and not to mention he has one of the best work ethics in the league he never takes a day off, always trying to get better and he has improved every year...

natesweet
natesweet moderator

@Look At My Ring @Natesweet @___bp___ From my perspective he is never humble. He does not seem to get what humility is. He is a braggart and a loudmouth. Talking about breaking all the records is about as classless of a thing a player can do in my opinion. It completely disrespects those that came before him.

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

@Natesweet @Look At My Ring @___bp___ I've been a fan of him since high school and don't see him as this bad guy that people make him out to be....he doesn't get in trouble, gives back to his town and others....other than the decision, I don't see why he is hated so much...

natradamus
natradamus moderator

@I'm a fan of teams that choke. living with her, while she was seeing someone else-  there was one night she brought a guy home from the bar-  but she was so hammered that the guy more nursed her than anything.

besides that she has had random hookups that I know about-  definitely went through a slutty faze around 21-  but nothing that much worse than I have done-  though I am better at keeping secrets.

natradamus
natradamus moderator

@___bp___ @natradamus thanks.  I decided to go for it-  see how it turns out.  fuck the other guys-  I will be the one who gets her

bp.
bp. moderator

@Natesweet @Building With Clay is back SON @Buhlitz @I'm a fan of teams that choke. There is absolutely no justification for him not getting charged with some sort of minor crime for reckless driving.  None.  The other actions would also have been completely justified, but obviously he had committed at least a driving violation, and was treated differently for one reason and one reason alone.

natesweet
natesweet moderator

@Building With Clay is back SON @Buhlitz @I'm a fan of teams that choke. I was appalled he was not even ticketed when he was drag racing off the red light and crashed into all those objects here in downtown Portland. Really late at night, reckless like that. Cops would have given everyone and anyone else a breathalizer test and likely charged them with reckless endangerment. Instead the cops acted like it was a celebrity table where people could get autographs. Fucking joke. 

0125
0125 moderator

Who plays dirty