A pair of NFC playoff-contending teams face off this Sunday when the Chicago Bears host the New Orleans Saints at historic Soldier Field.
The Saints (4-2) got off to a difficult start to the season, losing to both the Las Vegas Raiders and the Green Bay Packers, but have turned the corner in recent weeks, and -- despite missing receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders -- picked up a hard-fought 27-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers last week. That allowed the Saints to stay within striking distance of the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South.
Not so much luck for the Bears (5-2) last week. Their staunch defense came unstuck in the Los Angeles heat, as they succumbed to the Rams in a 24-10 defeat. But Chicago is still close to Green Bay in the battle for the NFC North division title.
Bears linebacker Khalil Mack and Co. will be looking for a swift return to form now that they're back in their neck of the woods.
Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints Head-To-Head
The New Orleans Saints lead the all-time series against the Bears, 16-13.
Perhaps more worryingly for Bears fans, the Saints have won the last 5 straight meetings, including a 36-25 win at Soldier Field last year.
Chicago Bears' season results: W W L W W L
New Orleans Saints' season results: W L L W W W
Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints Team News
The Bears have one big injury concern heading into the weekend, as Allen Robinson II seems likely to miss out. The former Penn State wide receiver, who has 544 yards and two touchdowns to his name already this year, left the field with a concussion late in the fourth quarter against the Rams on "Monday Night Football." Robinson must now follow the NFL's concussion protocol before he can return, and he did not practice on Thursday.
Doubtful for Bears: Allen Robinson II, Cordarrelle Patterson
The Saints don't have too many concerns coming into this one. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is definitely out, as he continues his recovery from COVID-19. He will be missed by QB Drew Brees on offense, but the Saints can feel buoyed by the recent performances of young receivers Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway who look set to fill in once again.
Michael Thomas has had a difficult campaign to date. The Saints' star hasn't played since the first game of the season, between ankle and hamstring injuries, and a one-game suspension he earned for an altercation with a teammate. Thomas did return to practice on Thursday and is expected to suit up Sunday.
Doubtful for Saints: Michael Thomas, Marquez Callaway
Out for Saints: Emmanuel Sanders
Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints Projected Starters
QB: Nick Foles
RB: David Montgomery, Cordarrelle Patterson
WR: Allen Robinson II (D), Anthony Miller, Darnell Mooney
TE: Jimmy Graham
New Orleans Saints
QB: Drew Brees
WR: Tre'Quan Smith, Michael Thomas (D), Deonte Harris
TE: Jared Cook
Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints Prediction
The Chicago Bears have one of the NFL's elite defensive units. Khalil Mack and his crew have kept opposing quarterbacks' completion percentage down to 58.7 percent (second in the league to the Steelers) and they don't fare much worse against the run either. The power struggle between an imposing Saints offensive-line and the Bears' D should be one of the highlights of the weekend.
The problem the Bears have is that they don't put up many points on offense. There are still too many plays that aren't quite working out; tiny details that need to be perfected now that Nick Foles has taken over from Mitchell Trubisky in the pocket, and I do worry about them in this one, especially if Allen Robinson II isn't fit to play.
The Saints, on the other hand, have really started to click into gear in recent games. Alvin Kamara is the most productive running back in football in terms of total yardage gained (364 yards rushing, 460 yards receiving, 7 touchdowns), and Drew Brees is -- yet again -- the league's most accurate quarterback, hitting his receivers with 67.7 percent of his passes.
In last week's game against the Panthers, the Saints converted on a season-high 12 of 14 third-down attempts, and that's even with the injuries at wide receiver.
If Michael Thomas returns, it could be a long night in coverage for the Bears' secondary.
Prediction: Saints win a close one, 24-20.Published 30 Oct 2020, 22:31 IST