The Chicago Bears continue their quest for the playoffs early this week, but here comes the nightmare. The Bears welcome the Saints to Soldier Field tonight boasting the leagues #1 rated passing offense. If the Bears can't figure out ways of limiting the Saints offense Brees just might break a few records in the night air in the Windy City.
The Bears and the Saints are meeting for the third straight year. The first meeting was in the 2006 NFC Championship game where the Bears throttled the Saints 39-14. Last year with the Bears out of the playoffs they squared off and the Bears ended the Saints playoff chances when they came out on top 33-25. This will be the Saints best chance to come away saving a little face.
Brees said the fact the Bears can end the Saints' season for the third straight season never crossed his mind until he was asked about it after Tuesday's practice. Saints coach Sean Payton said he didn't feel the need to remind the team about the circumstances of the past two seasons and being possibly eliminated from playoff contention was enough of a motivation.
"I think (the Saints are) a different team," Payton said. "There's a lot of new faces on this team from the two prior years. More than anything else, it's an opportunity to play a team we've had trouble beating. I don't think they look at it like this is where the season ended per se.
Despite that the Bears are allowing QBs to pass on them at alarming rates and the Saints are passing on people at alarming rates I would have though the Saints would have been favored in this battle of 7-6 teams, but the Bears are a 3 point home favorite.
The Bears get a big assist from the weather tonight. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-20s with a single digit wind chill. Winds will be blowing about 10-15 miles. If the weather or the wind can help take a little air out of the Saints passing attack it will go a long way toward helping the Bears keeping their playoff chances alive.
The Vikings Path
This season should all but be over for us, but ill fortune continues to plague the Minnesota Vikings. First the Vikings were straddled with a killer of a last 3 game schedule. Then Pro Bowlers Pat and Kevin Williams are suspended (still in the air?). To top it off their starting QB Gus Ferrotte cannot go, he will be replaced by Tavaris Jackson.
The Playoff Race
If the Bears lose tonight and the Vikings win this weekend it is all over, so the Bears need to go out and take care of business and then do some hoping. The Bears still need a Vikings defeat to get back in the race. If the Vikings win, they eliminate Green Bay.
Surprisingly at 7-9 the Saints are in last place in their division. They need a win tonight and a ton of help.
Forte At the Forefront
The best defense the Bears can have against the Saints is a solid offense. The Saints are ranked 21st in rush defense allowing 112.8 yards per game. If the Bears can establish the run early and get Forte some running room they can put points on the board, but at the same time keep Brees on the sideline. With his performance against Jacksonville Forte has broken the great Gale Sayers rookie rushing record of 1,374 y ards. Forte is also on pass to be the second rookie ever to lead his team in rushing and receiving.
Time For Bob To Step Up
The single most important thing the Bears need this game is pressure on Brees. Of course that assumes that Babich has any idea how to create pressure. Blitzing Urlacher and Briggs up the middle does not count. That play ranks up their with the fullback dive as next to useless. They need to bring guys from all sides and never stop switching it up. Don't let Brees get comfortable. Bring corners, bring safeties or how about we even try to disguise it a little? There is a unigue idea. How about a delayed blitz? We have some speed on that line, start a guy on the outside then have him pull around a guard, there should be some holes there. Of course, I have no faith that will happen.
What do you think is the most important aspect the Bears need to do to beat the Saints?