NFL Wire News

Week 15 Preview: Saints at Bears

on

New Orleans Saints (5-8) at Chicago Bears (5-8)

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Soldier Field, Chicago – TV: ESPN

*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

*Keys to the game: Drizzle, downpour or flurries, the Saints are hitching their offense to RB Mark Ingram. He’s second in the NFL with 651 rushing yards since Week 8, and the Bears have allowed at least 4.1 yards per carry in four of the past five games. Getting Ingram going to start the game should help avoid difficult down-and-distance situations for QB Drew Brees. The Saints were 1 of 10 on third down last week, but have had a good season running the ball and rank ninth in the NFL with 123.7 yards per game. There will be chances for Brees, because the Bears don’t have a good answer for TE Jimmy Graham, and Chicago allowed 75 points the past two games.

The Saints have two major worries defensively – RB Matt Forte, who can do everything well, and getting pressure on QB Jay Cutler. Tremendously talented across the board, the Bears do not play well from behind. Cutler, who has lost six fumbles, has been erratic. He has 15 interceptions and has been sacked 29 times. But blitzing is proving problematic for this defense, which is 29th against the run and pass and battling constant breakdowns at the safety position.

*Matchup to watch – Bears WR Alshon Jeffery vs. Saints CB Keenan Lewis: Jeffery had 10 receptions last week with the team in hurry-up, comeback mode for most of the game. Cutler is going for Jeffery when he needs a big play.

*Player spotlight – Bears OG Ryan Groy: The undrafted rookie has the size and strength to settle into a larger role after splitting time with Michael Ola at left guard last week.

*Fast facts: The Bears and Saints have allowed 27 or more points a combined 15 times this season. … Forte is the only NFL player with more than 800 yards rushing and 700 yards receiving.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Windy conditions might be the only thing to save two unsightly defenses from primetime embarrassment. The Bears commit to Forte and push toward eight wins.

*Our pick: Bears 32-27


About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business