On paper, the most lopsided matchup of Wild Card Weekend is Sunday’s showdown between the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears. Kickoff is at 4:40 EST. At home, the Saints are listed as 10-point favorites with an over/under of 47 points.
Unfortunately for New Orleans, a pair of late-season losses to the Eagles and Chiefs cost them home-field advantage. However, the Saints bounced back with wins over the Vikings and Panthers to finish the regular season 12-4 and carry a little momentum into the postseason.
The Bears backed into the playoffs after losing to the Packers 35-16 in Week 17. To be fair, Chicago won three in a row before that game in response to a six-game losing streak early in the season. Nevertheless, the 8-8 Bears are in the playoffs and have a chance to make some noise.
This could be the most important game of Mitchell Trubisky’s career. After regaining his starting job late in the season, Trubisky helped the Bears average over 31 points per game over their final four games. However, much of that success is due to Chicago’s rushing attack, which has picked it up late in the season. Over his last five games, David Montgomery is averaging 99 yards per game and has scored seven touchdowns, which has helped take some of the pressure off Trubisky’s shoulders.
Of course, the New Orleans will attempt to put the pressure back on Trubisky. Just two weeks ago, the Saints held Minnesota’s dynamic rushing attack under 100 yards, so they’re capable of stuffing the run. The Saints also amassed 45 sacks during the regular season, doing it primarily with their front-four, which could put Trubisky under pressure and force him to diagnose complicated coverage schemes.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees begins what could be his final run at a Super Bowl. Slowly but surely, Brees has started to find his stride down the stretch after missing six games due to injury. He may not air it out like he used to, but Brees has completed 70.5% of his passes this year and limited his mistakes, so he remains efficient. The Saints can also lean on their running game, which was productive last week despite Alvin Kamara being unavailable.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the same Chicago defense that carried the Bears to the playoffs two years ago. While they handled the Texans and Jaguars late in the season, the Bears were torched by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Week 17. Chicago’s pass rush is rather average compared to past years, and the Bears didn’t excel in creating takeaways, which is why the Bears only beat one playoff team this season.
For what it’s worth, the Saints and Bears went to overtime when they met during the regular season, with the Saints ultimately winning 26-23. However, the rematch will be inside the comforts of the Superdome rather than a windy Soldier Field. The Saints are also a confident team after a couple of convincing wins late in the season. New Orleans has more talent on both sides, and neither Trubisky nor the Chicago defense will be able to keep up over 60 minutes. Bet on the Saints to win going away and cover the 10-point spread.
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