The NFC South champions, the New Orleans Saints (12-4) host the NFC North runners-up, the Chicago Bears (8-8) in the Wildcard round of the playoffs on Sunday.
Despite missing practically the entire running back room due to COVID, New Orleans did away with the Carolina Panthers in some style in last week's final game of the regular season. Spearheaded by an accurate performance at QB from Drew Brees, the Saints won 33-7; head coach, Sean Payton showing once again that his versatile offense is capable of eeking out a tough W no matter who takes the turf. Somewhat ominous for pessimistic Bears' fans: reports suggest that both Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray will be ready to go at the weekend, which is great news for a "Who Dat Nation" desperate to see its offense at full strength for practically the first time since wk-1.
Chicago lost 35-16 to one of the Super Bowl favorites, Green Bay, in the grand finale of the NFC North. Packers' stars, Rogers and Adams put on a clinic at Soldierfield to help secure the W, but it was red-zone and 3rd4th down inefficiency that cost Chicago dearly in this one; quarterback, Mitch Trubisky needs to figure out a way to convert the offensive-march into 6s -- easier said than done against New Orleans' excellent defense, but that's the challenge for Matt Nagy's team: simple as it might sound, they have to score more points!
Here is all the key news heading into the Bears vs the Saints. Get ready for a great weekend of football!
New Orleans Saints vs Chicago Bears Head-To-Head
The Bears and the Saints have faced off on 32 previous occasions, including 2x during post-season. New Orleans has a slight advantage in the head-to-head record, having won 17 games to Chicago's 15.
In the most recent contest between these two NFL stalwarts, the Saints needed a 52-yard field goal in overtime from kicker, Will Lutz to secure a 26-23 victory (November 1st - 2020).
Bears' season results: W W W L W W L L L L L L W W W L
Saints' season results: W L L W W W W W W W W W L L W W
New Orleans Saints vs Chicago BearsTeam News
A bit of a mixed bag of injury news coming out of Halas Hall: there's some positive news about linebacker, Khalil Mack's hamstring and wideout, Allen Robinson's hamstring -- both look set to play.
Not such good news for Roquan Smith though: the talented and hard-hitting linebacker is struggling with an elbow injury and might not be healed in time to lace up the cleats on Sunday (then again it's the playoffs, so I wouldn't count him totally out at this stage either!).
Out for Bears:
Besides the fact that DE Trey Hendrickson is still dealing with a neck issue (LP), most of the news coming out of the New Orleans' camp this week is positive on the injury front: Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray might not have been able to get in too many practice reps in the week, but both should be available for Sunday's encounter. Star wide receiver, Michael Thomas is also expected to make a return to the fold.
Doubtful for Saints: QB Taysom Hill (concussion), S Marcus Williams (ankle), TE Josh Hill (hand), G Nick Easton (concussion)
QB: Mitch Trubisky
RB: David Montgomery, Cordarrelle Patterson
WR: Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney (doubtful)
New Orleans Saints:
QB: Drew Brees
RB: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray
WR: Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders
TE: Jared Cook
The last meeting between the Bears and the Saints went right down to the wire, so this is a tough game to call.
During the overtime of that November contest, a great defensive effort from Chicago forced New Orleans to punt the pigskin back to Matt Nagy's team. Chicago had the W on a plate... but, when it mattered most, the Bears' offense could only manage a puny 8-yards on 3 downs, and had to hoof it straight back to their gleeful opponents, who went on to win with an FG the very next drive.
The victory had been there for the taking, and Chicago blew it. Sure, that was with Foles in the pocket, and things have been a LOT better since Trubisky returned to action, but moments like that suggest the Bears don't quite have enough on offense to outscore the Saints; especially now that wideouts, Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will be out there for Drew Brees (both missed that Saints win in wk-8). Ranked 23/32 in the NFL for points scored (23pts per game), the Bears just don't quite have enough firepower to beat the Saints on their home turf.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 34, Chicago Bears 23Published 09 Jan 2021, 02:00 IST