It’s been a busy week for the Chicago Bears. It started out with a blow out loss on Sunday night football. They followed that up with some Jaylon Johnson drama, a huge trade for Montez Sweat and the firing of an assistant coach for issues with his conduct around Halas Hall. We’ve reached the back half of the week, and oh, that’s right, the Bears play another football game this weekend.
To help us preview the game against the New Orleans Saints, we sat down, as we do every week, with the sister site of our opponent. This week it’s Luke Hubbard of Canal Street Chronicles.
1. The Bears surprised everyone at the trade deadline when they traded for Montez Sweat. The Saints who unlike the Bears, are tied for first and are competing for a playoff spot, chose to stand pat and not buy or sell. Was that the right move for the franchise?
It kind of depends. There are reports the Saints were in talks with the Raiders for WR Hunter Renfrow, but they couldn’t reach an agreement. I would’ve liked to see that deal done, but only if it was for a late round pick. We don’t own a third or fourth rounder, so trading the first or second would’ve been very dumb. I think the coaching staff and management believe they have enough talent in the building to win this division and they think the defense is good enough to potentially pull off an upset (Although, I don’t think it’s very likely).
If you just look at the Saints roster, on paper, it’s a pretty dang good team. The offense has been putting the pieces together and are improving, so I think the Saints were confident in who they have right now.
2. Derek Carr isn’t the quarterback he once was, but how has he been captaining the offense this season?
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster. He looked pretty good the first couple weeks. He threw a couple picks and had some trouble in the red zone, but he was moving the ball. Then the AC Joint sprain happened and he played through it for a couple of weeks and he didn’t look like himself. Now, a few weeks later, he’s had three straight 300 yard passing games and is the first Saint to do that since Drew Brees did in 2016 or 2017 I believe. I knew it would take a little for the pieces to come together, but it’s taken a little longer than I thought. If he can continue to play like he has the last few weeks, I think the signing will be considered a success because they’ll likely be a playoff team.
The one thing that has been a little iffy to me has been his connection with Chris Olave. Let’s just say the two have had their differences early on, but based on reports from the media, they’ve begun to rebuild that connection. If they can get back on the same page, I think they can play at a high level and get this offense going.
3. The Saints defense looks pretty darn stingy, especially against the pass. What do the Saints do defensively that makes them so difficult to score against?
Well for one, the talent back there is pretty good. You’ve got Marshon Lattimore who can be a top-5 corner when he brings his A game. Paulson Adebo, our third round pick from a couple years ago, has been playing like he did his rookie season. And Alontae Taylor has looked pretty good back there as well. Jordan Howden, our rookie safety from Minnesota, has been a pleasant surprise in place of Marcus Maye. I watched his college tape and I knew he had what it takes to be a good player in this league, but I didn’t expect him to take such quick strides.
The second part is Dennis Allen. He’s undoubtedly one of the best defensive minds in the game and I don’t think he gets enough credit. I’ll dive into his head coaching capabilities in the next question, but since he took over, he’s been able to field some of the best defenses in the NFL year in and year out. He’s also one of the best at identifying talent, especially in the secondary. Like I said, a lot of our players in the secondary weren’t first round picks. We’ve been able to find guys like Adebo, Taylor and Howden in the second, third and fourth rounds, and by doing that, it has allowed them to use high capital on other positions of need.
4. How do fans feel Dennis Allen has done as the head coach of the team?
To put it bluntly, they don’t like him. He has a horrid record as a head coach, but he hasn’t always been in the best situations. I would like to see him get another season with a new offensive coordinator, because that’s our main problem. Outside of a few good weeks, the offense is pretty bland. If he had a Sean Payton-esque mind controlling the offense, I think he’d have a good shot at winning a lot of games as the Saints head coach. I may be completely wrong and he may just be a bad head coach who’s a very good defensive coordinator, but I don’t think firing our head coach is what this team needs right now or in the immediate future. Give him a good offensive coordinator, and if the team still sucks, then you try to find someone else. I’ve seen too many teams go through coach after coach after coach before finding the right guy when sometimes, they just need some help on the side of the ball they’re not known for.
5. Are there any particular player props or interesting bets that you see on DraftKings that you’d recommend from a Saints perspective?
I like Alvin Kamara over 34.5 receiving yards. He’ll get his fair share of 5ish yard catches from dump offs, but if Pete Carmichael does what he did last week, Kamara will likely see more downfield targets as well. Screens and option routes are where he excels, so if he gets 2-3 of those and a few check downs, that’s free money right there.
This seems a little silly, but I like Derek Carr under 2.5 rushing yards. He’s gone over that three times this season, and there have been multiple games where he has negative rushing yards. Normally, it would scare me because QB sneaks and stuff like that, but third or fourth and short is Taysom Hill time, so I think under 2.5 is a good pick.
I also love Chris Olave over 58.5 receiving yards. He’s been in a slump, so this is probably the lowest you’re going to see this line, but he’s so due for a good game. He’s averaging over 6 receptions a game over the last three, and his season averaging for yards per catch is 11.8, so I would slam the over while it’s this low.
Finally, I also kind of love one of the weekly specials has for this game. It’s Rashid Shaheed to have a 50+ yard catch at +450. He’s had three in eight games now, so it’s about a 38% chance, and at +450 odds, I’d sprinkle some money on that.
The Bears certainly have a tall order in front of them. The Saints currently sit as an 8.5 point favorite after the Bears were blown out on Sunday Night Football and Tyson Bagent starts his third consecutive game for the injured Justin Fields.
And as always, if you want to place a little wager on the game, DraftKings Sportsbook has you covered.