NFL Wildcard Weekend
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints– Sun, Jan. 10th – 4:40 pm
Mercedes-Benz Super Dome – New Orleans, Louisiana
Betting Line: Saints -9.5, Over/Under 47
The penultimate game of wildcard weekend features the 8-8 Chicago Bears heading to New Orleans to face the 12-4, NFC South Division Champion, Saints.
Despite injuries that sidelined Drew Brees and Michael Thomas for large periods of the season and a COVID scare threatening to sideline Alvin Kamara from this weekend’s game, the Saints are finally at full strength on offense; a scary proposition for the Bears.
This also may be Saints’ QB Drew Brees’ final kick at the can, wrapping up a Hall-of-Fame career after these playoffs. Playoff games always mean more to a team, but this drive to the Super Bowl may mean just a little more to Brees and the Saints.
The Bears on the other hand narrowly snuck into the playoffs and have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball all season. They are 6-3 in games started by Mitch Trubisky and 5-3 on the road, but the Saints’ 5th – ranked pass-defense and formidable offensive weapons will be a tough test for Mitch and the Bears.
Let’s look at the marquee players and numbers coming into Sunday:
And the Keys/Trends for each team as well:
As you see from the numbers above, while the Saints’ offense and the Bears’ defense actually match up relatively well, there is a big margin between the two on the other sides of the ball. New Orleans’ defense ranks top-five in total defense, pass-D, and run-D, while the Bears’ offense doesn’t register above 22nd in the offense rankings for those three categories.
Adding to the Saints’ massive defensive advantage, having a full trio of Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees on the offensive side of the ball should give them an edge there as well. With Taysom Hill wreaking havoc wherever he lines up on the field and Alvin Kamara threatening to take it to the house every time he touches the ball, that will alleviate a lot of the pressure facing Brees and his aging body. With numerous targets in Michael Sanders, Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook, to name a few, Brees should be able to do enough with the ball, combined with another strong rushing performance, to outscore the Bears’ weak offense.
For the Bears the plan is pretty simple: Don’t turn the ball over, feed Montgomery and Robinson on offense, and hope your defense turns in their best game of the season. That is seemingly their only shot to actually win this one, but if Roquan Smith plays and the defense can stop Kamara from taking the game over, they may just be able to keep the game inside the point spread of 9.5 points.