This week, the New Orleans Saints (5-1) travel to the Midwest to play the Chicago Bears (3-2) in a game certain to be dominated by two very impressive defenses.
Believe it or not, the Saints enter this game as underdogs, whether that’s because running back Alvin Kamara hasn’t practiced and is likely to miss at least some game time or maybe it’s just the fact the outstanding Bears defense face a back-up quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater.
New Orleans improved their win streak to four in a row last week with an impressive defensive display at home against ‘Minshew Mania’ and the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week, they face a fresh Chicago Bears team coming off their bye week but after a disappointing business trip to London where they suffered a shock defeat to the Oakland Raiders. There is some good news for the Bears as starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky is expected to return to the helm and although not a finished product, he gives them a better chance to win games than perennial back-up Chase Daniel.
The impressive Saints offensive line will face their sternest test since the teams only loss so far against the LA Rams in Week 2. Star linebacker Khalil Mack and his friends will look to disrupt the Saints all day and help win the field position battle for their team that will be very important to determine the end result. Some bad news for the Bears as they placed defensive tackle and former Saint Akeem Hicks on injury reserve this week all but ending his season. Offensive lineman Kyle Long also joined Hicks on injury reserve for the Bears, no team at this point is healthy but those could be two very important missing pieces in the trenches.
The Saints defense were forcing three and outs for fun last week against the Jaguars especially early on which helped set the tone for the rest of the game. Although the defense played at a top level, the Saints offense stumbled along only mustering thirteen points in a fairly lacklustre game. Saints RB Alvin Kamara is clearly playing through some injury issues at the moment; he has missed practices in each of the last two weeks and struggled to get going against a good Jaguars defense led by defensive lineman Calais Campbell who forced a fumble from Kamara. Another missing piece in the Saints offense this week could be tight end Jared Cook who also sat out of Thursday practice. With the offense already struggling to live up to their high ceiling under Head Coach Sean Payton, missing two important pieces will make the already difficult trip to Chicago even tougher.
Everything this week points towards a game dominated by defense with shaky offensive play, I believe this game will simply come down to which offense can make the least mistakes. Special teams is sure to play a big part this week where the expectation for both defenses will be to force multiple punts and field goal attempts rather than touchdowns. Which punter can put their team in good field position and which kicker can hold their nerve and score some invaluable points.
Saints to win with a walk-off 50+ yard field goal from Wil Lutz.
Prediction: Saints 16, Bears 13
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