The New Orleans Saints head into their game with the host Chicago Bears on Sunday on a four-game winning streak and a 5-1 overall record to sit in first place in the NFC South. But, after losing quarterback Drew Brees to injury a few weeks ago, Sean Payton’s squad is now going to have to deal with the losses of running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook for this game.
That’s not a good thing for New Orleans, which will be facing a desperate Chicago team that is coming off a loss and is currently in third in the NFC North, looking up at both the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. The Bears may get quarterback Mitch Trubisky back for this game after he missed the team’s last contest.
The moneyline for this contest has the New Orleans Saints +175 and the Chicago Bears -200. Chicago is favored by 3.5 points at home, with the over/under for the game set at 37.
Next Man Up
Just as Teddy Bridgewater stepped up when Brees was injured in Week 2, the Saints will need others to step up their production with Kamara and Cook out. Bridgewater has been solid as the starter, passing for 1,089 yards and seven touchdowns, though he’s also taken 10 sacks. With leading rusher Kamara out, Latavius Murray will take on the lead role running the ball, looking to build on his 138 yards and one score this season. The Saints will also need big games from Michael Thomas (53 catches, 632 yards, three TDs) and Ted Ginn Jr. (16 catches, 206 yards) to make up for the losses of both Kamara and Cook in the passing game.
The Saints have been solid if not spectacular this season on the defensive side of the ball. New Orleans has allowed 20.3 points per game, though it has also held opponents to 10 points or fewer in two of the last three weeks. Defensive end Cameron Jordan doesn’t get a lot of headlines, but he’s been one of the best pass-rushers in the league, already recording five sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. One area the Saints would like to improve on is turnovers, as they’ve recorded just seven takeaways this season.
Chicago is best when its defense is shutting teams down and not forcing the team’s offense to have to score a lot. The Bears rank sixth in the league in yards allowed per game with 312.2, including just 83 rushing yards a contest. Khalil Mack is the star for Vic Fangio’s defense, racking up a team-best 4.5 sacks, but there are a number of Chicago defenders who are dangerous. Linebacker Danny Trevathan leads the Bears with 45 tackles.
Offensively, the Bears have been a mixed bag this season. Chicago would like to run the ball, but it averages just 80.6 yards per game on the ground. Rookie David Montgomery leads the way with 225 yards, though he averages 3.3 yards per carry, and Tarik Cohen has become the forgotten man, running the ball just 17 times for 37 yards, though he does have 20 receptions for 128 yards on the season.
Saints Pull It Out
New Orleans has been doubted for much of the season since Brees went out, but they haven’t lost yet with Bridgewater as the starter, even with a schedule that included dates with Seattle and Dallas. The Bears will put up a fight, especially on defense, but the Saints will make enough big plays on offense and shut down Chicago on defense. I’m taking New Orleans +3.5 to win this game outright.