New Orleans is the biggest favorite of the weekend heading into the NFC wild card Bears at Saints pick. Oddsmakers have set Sean Payton and company with a -10.5 line as 8-8 Chicago limps into the Big Easy. It’s easy to get complacent with a spread like that, and Chicago should be playing carefree knowing they really have nothing to lose in this one.
The Saints offense gets a lot of the hubbub, but it’s actually their defense that will likely decide if the team can cover the number on Sunday afternoon. New Orleans is top 5 in nearly every major statistical category this year, and had a month stretch in early November where they allowed 28 total points in four games.
Chicago Seems to Have Been Padding Their Numbers
There was a narrative that the Chicago offense has seen improvement over the last quarter of the season, as they put up 30+ points in four of the last five down the stretch. Mitch Trubisky was playing better since being renamed the starter and David Montgomery went for 100+ in three of four.
While the Bears were better – it’s mostly because their opponents were worse. Chicago’s big offensive stretch came against Detroit (32nd defense), Houston (30th), Minnesota (27th), and Jacksonville (31st). When they finally faced a challenge last week against Green Bay’s top 10 defense, the Bears managed just 16 points at home in what looked like a must win game (until Arizona lost to the Rams, putting Chicago into the postseason).
Another thing that doesn’t help ahead of NFC wild card Bears at Saints pick is that Chicago has been hit hard by injuries. Roquan Smith, a pro bowl caliber LB, will miss this game with an elbow injury and Darnell Mooney, the young WR who has shown flashes the last few weeks, is also out with a sprained ankle.
Saints Getting Back to Full Strength
On the other side of the field, the Saints are getting healthier by activating Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Deonte Harris. Kamara missed last week due to COVID protocols, while Thomas and Harris have missed the last three. Dual threat Taysom Hill is also expected to pass concussion protocol in time to suit up against Chicago.
It seems like it’s been awhile since New Orleans had the full arsenal of Drew Brees, Kamara, and Thomas in the lineup together. As a result the Saints ranked just 19th in passing this season, but they’re also facing a Bears secondary that has three major contributors on the injury report with various ailments.
These two teams did battle to an OT 26-23 Saints win in Chicago earlier this season, but with the Bears covering the +5.5 spread. Brees carved up the Bears going 31/41 for 280 and 2 TD, while Kamara added 67 on the ground and another 96 yards receiving out of the backfield.
Free NFC Wild Card Bears at Saints Pick
Just 53% are on the Saints in this one even though they are 6-2 at home and about 3,000+ fans are expected in attendance. The Bears take big hits with Smith and Mooney out of the lineup, and their defense may keep them in it early, but will tire late. The Saints just have too many weapons at their disposal.
Saints 34 – Bears 17
Free Pick: Saints -10