The Chicago Bears will be playing playoff football for the second time in three years. But to avoid their second one-and-done postseason, they’re going to need to play their best game against the No. 2-seeded New Orleans Saints.
For the Bears to pull off the ultimate upset of wild-card weekend, they’re going to need some big-time contributions from some of their biggest players.
Here are eight players to keep an eye on as the Bears face the Saints in the wild-card round.
AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton
Trubisky will be playing in his second postseason game, and unlike the last one, he can't save his heroics for the fourth quarter. This Bears offense will go as far as Trubisky can take them, which means getting into a comfortable rhythm and utilizing his mobility is going to be important for Matt Nagy and co. Trubisky cannot commit the kind of boneheaded mistakes he's been known for, and he's going to need to have the game of his life to upset the Saints.
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Montgomery has burst onto the scene over the last couple of months as one of the NFL's best running backs, finishing top-five in rushing yards and scrimmage yards in 2020. The Bears have established an identity on offense that starts with running the ball with Montgomery, which alleviates the pressure off Trubisky. But he'll have to contend with the likes of the Saints' fourth-best rushing defense. Chicago will look to get Montgomery going and control the time of possession like they did against Green Bay -- but they're also going to need to stretch the field.
WR Allen Robinson
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Robinson has not only been the Bears' best offensive player over the last couple of seasons, he's been one of the top wideouts in the league. He has a penchant for making plays even when it seems impossible, and Chicago is going to need their playmaker to step up. In the previous meeting, Robinson had six receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. For this Bears offense to keep pace with the Saints, they're going to need to do more than just run the ball and throw short, intermediate passes. They're going to need to stretch the field, and with Darnell Mooney banged up, the onus falls on Chicago's top wideout to have another big game.
Bears offensive line
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Chicago's revamped offensive line has been one of the biggest surprises over the last six weeks. But they're going to be challenged against a Saints defensive front that has been among the best defending the run, allowing the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the league. The Bears have found lightning in a bottle with their interior linemen -- Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars. If the Bears are going to have a productive day on offense, it starts up front in the trenches.
OLB Khalil Mack
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Mack knows what's on the line in this game, and he knows exactly what this defense needs to do to pull off the upset -- they need to play their best game of the season. Simply put, the Bears need their highest-paid player to step up on the game's biggest stage. Mack has shown an ability to absolutely take over games, which is the kind of effort Chicago needs to counter New Orleans' high-powered offense.
S Eddie Jackson
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One of the biggest disappointments this season has been the fallout from Jackson, who has had arguably his worst year as a pro. After signing a four-year extension worth $58 million, Jackson has failed to make the game-changing plays he's been known for in the past. While you could argue some of that has to do with scheme, Jackson has also had some opportunities. Just last week against the Packers, Jackson dropped what should've been an easy interception. The Bears need to make some big plays against this Saints offense, and a big-time interception by Jackson would make everyone forget his so-so 2020 season.
K Cairo Santos
AP Photo/Jim Mone
It's hard to believe that we've reached a point where kicker is a strength for the Bears, but here we are. The Bears aren't going to beat the Saints kicking field goals. But given their last game came down to a field goal, it's good that Chicago has one of the best kickers in the NFL this season in Santos. Santos has made 27 consecutive field goals, which broke Robbie Gould's record of 26, with his last miss coming in Week 3.
KR Cordarrelle Patterson
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Fresh off his second straight All-Pro nod, Patterson has proven to be one of the NFL's most dangerous weapons with the ball in his hands. Patterson is always a threat returning kicks, and some teams have even made it a point to not kick the ball to him. Hopefully New Orleans has forgotten what Patterson can do. Patterson returned a kickoff 102 yards for a score against the Saints back in 2019, and the Bears are hoping that the All-Pro returner has saved some magic for the postseason.