Cleat Geeks

Saints (4-2) Looking For 5th Win In A Row VS. Bears (3-4) Week 8 Preview

In just a few weeks in the 2017-2018 NFL regular season, the New Orleans Saints (4-2) have gone from one of the worst teams in the league to the leading team in the NFC South. The Saints have won 4 games in a row after a 0-2 start including a 26-17 win last week over the Green Bay Packers, who played without star Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (out for the season with a broken collarbone). The Saints will now face a team who has an untested franchise Quarterback but also has a defense that is getting better week-by-week in the Chicago Bears (3-4).

 

Once again, Saints QB Drew Brees cannot turn the ball over

For the 2nd week in a row, one of the biggest goals for the New Orleans Saints offense and their Quarterback in Drew Brees is to not turn the ball over. Last week, Brees was tasked to pass the ball consistently and not to turn the ball over against a Packers defense who got better at defending the pass than the previous season. Brees threw two interceptions in the game and the Saints’ defense paid for it in long-duration drives. Two weeks ago against the Detroit Lions, Drew Brees also threw two interceptions. The Chicago Bears defense not only can turn the ball over but they can also score off of the turnovers. Last week against the Carolina Panthers, Bears rookie S Eddie Jackson accounted for two defensive touchdowns with a 75-yard fumble recovery in the 1st quarter and a 76-yard interception returned for a touchdown early in the 2nd quarter.

Image result for willie snead new orleans saints

The Bears has young talent and can make up for the lack of a fully efficient scoring offense that the offense does not supply. Eddie Jackson has been known to be a ball-hawk since his colligate days with the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bears defense ranks 9th in passing yards allowed per game (146) as well as 11th in rushing yards allowed per game (104.9). Last week against the Packers, Brees did throw for 27 completions (out of 38 attempts) for 331 yards and a touchdown. This Sunday, Wide Receiver Willie Snead will play his 2nd game of the season after missing time with a suspension and a hamstring injury. Having Snead along with WR Michael Thomas, WR Brandon Coleman, WR Ted Ginn Jr. and RB Alvin Kamara (as a passing game target) will be a huge factor for the Saints passing game. This game for the Bears defense could potentially overburden the defense as a whole.

Bears’ RB Jordan Howard is the best Running Back the Saints have faced all season

The New Orleans Saints defense will face a different kind of test from an opposing offense than what they normally would have to face. The Saints will be playing against one of the NFL’s best rushing offenses led by an underrated and talented Offensive Line and RB Jordan Howard. The Bears rushing offense ranks 7th in the league in rushing yards per game (126.3). Howard has had two games where he rushed for over 100 yards including 140 yards on 23 carries (6.1 yards per rush) and two touchdowns in the overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers and 167 yards in the overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens. Chicago’s Offensive Line does a great job of pushing the opposing Defensive Line and creating more yards. G Kyle Long is one of the Line’s best blockers and will be a big factor in the Bears rushing game.

This season, the Saints have rarely has had to stop an opposing offense’s rushing game but they will need to against Chicago. With the Bears passing offense under rookie Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky still progressing, they are expected to establish a more run-based gameplan. The Saints on defense ranks in the league in rushing yards per game (114.2). The Saints defense will need to stop the run more efficiently than last week against Green Bay as they allowed RB Aaron Jones to account for 131 yards and 1 touchdown on 17 carries.

The Bears have a more simplified running style with pulling Guards and running simple counters to the outside. The Saints will need to have defenders at the Middle Linebackers ready and Cornerbacks shed off blocks to make the tackles. ILB A.J. Klein has been an all-around playmaker for the Saints defense but he will need to rely on other Saints defenders to quickly swarm to the ball-carrier. The Defensive Line for the Saints will need to penetrate the backfield often and create as much chaos in run plays as they can. If the Saints switch up their defense to a 3-4 front, expect DE Alex Okafor to be at a more traditionalized Outside Linebacker position and rookie DE Trey Hendrickson to take more snaps.

 

What to expect and final analysis

When comparing NFL teams that have been underperforming for the past couple of NFL seasons, you have to look at the overall team talent and potential. Though the Bears have nailed some additions such as G Kyle Long, RB Jordan Howard, DE Akiem Hicks and rookie S Eddie Jackson, they don’t entirely stack up to the Saints and their overall team. This is a Saints team that an elite passing game led by QB Drew Brees, a good running game with RB Mark Ingram, a multiple time Pro-Bowler in DE Cameron Jordan and finally a more progressive pass defense with rookie CB Marshon Lattimore.

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Bears rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky has not had his breakout game of his NFL career despite this match-up against the Saints being his 4th start of his career. Last week, Trubisky only passed for 4 completions (out of 7 attempts) for 107 yards. If the Bears want to have success against the Saints, they will need to mix up their offensive playbook as New Orleans has a more disciplined defense. The Saints defense will need to prepare for a sneaky passing game.

With New Orleans being a more balanced team, both on offense and defense, they shouldn’t have immediate problems handling the Bears overall. Watch for the Saints to utilize a normal established running game with Mark Ingram and RB Alvin Kamara. OT Terron Armstrong will play after being questionable and missing multiple games due to injury.

 

 

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