Final score prediction for Saints vs. Bears

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John Sigler
·4 min read
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Super Bowl LV is only weeks away, but the New Orleans Saints can’t afford to look too far ahead. Instead, they should look back — all the way back to their first playoffs loss with Sean Payton coaching the team. The Chicago Bears eliminated them back in the 2006 postseason, and now the Saints have a golden opportunity to return the favor.

Saints’ keys to success

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It’s vital that the Saints make Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky uncomfortable right out of the gate. That doesn’t just mean pressuring him as a passer (which will be difficult with breakout defensive end Trey Hendrickson out with an injury), it extends to limiting the gains Trubisky can make on the ground. He’s run four times for 56 yards in three previous matchups with the Saints while also keeping plays alive with his legs, giving his receivers enough time to get open. New Orleans must make an effort to keep the ball in his hands so he can make bad decisions with it, yielding turnovers and failing to convert critical downs. On offense, the Saints should try to get their stars warmed up in a hurry. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are both returning from reserve lists, and they’re each clear upgrades over their fill-ins on the roster. But if either of them is a little rusty, the Saints know they can turn to players like Emmanuel Sanders and Marquez Callaway, each of whom has gotten into rhythm with Drew Brees when called upon for extended stretches this year. A huge loss to the Bears defense creates an opportunity for Kamara. Chicago will be without top linebacker Roquan Smith, the team’s leading tackler, so they’ve had to call up Manti Te’o from their practice squad. That’s a matchup Kamara can dominate throughout the afternoon.

Saints’ biggest concerns

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Can the Saints offensive line hold up under pressure? They lost starting right guard Nick Easton to injured reserve after he suffered his third concussion of the year, meaning there isn’t a reliable backup ready to relieve rookie draft pick Cesar Ruiz if he struggles -- or if left guard Andrus Peat exits again with his own injury. They’ll be matched up with a couple of stout defensive tackles in Akiem Hicks (always eager for a revenge game with the Saints) and Bilal Nichols. Out on the edge is Khalil Mack, who the Saints have contained well in past standoffs. But they may not be able to use the same plan if Ruiz or Peat need more help inside. On offense, we’ve got to question whether the Saints can challenge the Bears further downfield, where ballhawks like Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson are on the prowl. Both of Chicago’s safeties have the range to punish Brees if he puts too much air on his passes. While he’s shown more life on those deep looks to Emmanuel Sanders lately, this would be a great time for Jared Cook to make an impact down the seam. It’s not something the Saints have really been able to hang their hats on. The Saints special teams unit did a great job limiting Cordarrelle Patterson’s impact in their Week 8 meeting (when he gained just 44 return yards on three tries), but they’ve seen firsthand how dangerous he can be if given a chance. Patterson had four returns for 163 yards in last season’s matchup, including a 102-yard touchdown return. They must focus on containing him not just to avoid a score, but to start the Bears offense out in poor field position.

Final score prediction

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The Bears offense did go on a tear for most of December, but they didn’t score more than 25 points against any team with a winning record (doing so in a loss to the Green Bay Packers; their end-of-season rematch was a 35-16 loss). They beat up on some bad teams, in large part to a limited offense focused on getting the ball away from Trubisky as fast as possible. That strategy shouldn’t work against the Saints defense, even without Hendrickson. They should be able to bottle up the Chicago run game quickly and bait Trubisky into attempting some volatile passes further downfield than he’s comfortable trying. Yards will come at a premium for the Bears, much less points. As for the Saints offense: they’ll have advantageous matchups against a banged-up Chicago defense, and should have opportunities for Thomas and Kamara to re-acclimate with Brees right away. Even if some early drives get squashed by the still-dangerous Bears pass rush, New Orleans has enough experience to accelerate the tempo and score points in a hurry. The Saints are too talented to fall apart in this matchup, and it may end up looking lik ethe Bears got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Final score: Saints 25, Bears 14