The 3-1 Chicago Bears welcome a 4-0 New Orleans Saints squad to Soldier field this week after a tough week 4 loss to the Detroit Lions. This game figures to be a tough matchup for the beloved, as the Saints boast a potent offense combined with a defense that looks vastly improved over last year’s squad through 4 games. To say the Bears need to play better this week than they did last week against the Lions would be a massive understatement, as I believe New Orleans is the best team Chicago will have played in this young season. That having been said, there’s always a chance and I’ll tell you what I think needs to happen phase by phase for that chance to come to fruition:
Offense: The offense must be flawless this week, as I believe they will need a boat-load of points to keep up with the Saints. The easy answer is that this game hinges on the play of Jay Cutler, but I think it goes deeper than that. The offense as a whole must tiptoe that fine line between ball security and becoming too conservative if they want to have any sort of chance in this one, and feeding the ball to Matt Forte is an absolute must. Forte has easily been the Bear I’ve been most impressed with this season and getting him the ball early and often will help to move the chains, chew up the clock and keep Drew Brees on the sideline. To clarify, I’m not saying the Bears should run the ball more; short passes can have the same result. The offensive line is also a crucial piece to the puzzle, as they must keep Cutler clean and open holes for Forte. One of the individual matchups I will be paying the most attention to will be Roberto Garza against monstrous rookie nose tackle John Jenkins. Jenkins looked like an absolute stud on Monday night and Garza has had trouble with large defensive tackles in the past.
Defense: How will the Bears stop Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints offense? To put it simply, they won’t. The Monsters of the Midway have looked more like chipmunks than monsters this season, failing to stop anybody from racking up the yards on them. I miss Rod Marinelli. Not to slight Mel Tucker, whom I think is an excellent football coach, but there is very little doubt in my mind that the Defensive line would be playing better if Marinelli were still with the team. I expect New Orleans to move the ball nearly at will, but a few well-timed turnovers could help give the offense the advantage.
Special Teams: Remember when special teams were the part of the Bears you worried about the least? I still think Devin Hester has what it takes and I’m eagerly anticipating a touchdown sometime soon, but the coverage teams have to start doing a better job. Giving up free yardage does not figure to be an effective way to stop the Saints offense. Joe DeCamillis must get this figured out, or the Bears could wind up dropping a game to a team they have no business losing to very soon.
All said and done, I don’t like the odds of the Bear coming out of this one with a win. I don’t think that this is the week the defense figures it out and I don’t think the offense is quite there yet, but nothing would make me happier than being wrong about that. What do you guys think? Can the Bears keep up with the Saints and make this a shootout?