Tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup features two teams who had higher expectations heading into this season. The 5-8 Saints take on the 5-8 Bears in Chicago. This game won’t do much for the Bears as they have already been eliminated from the playoffs but the Bears’ coaching staff could be coaching for their collective jobs. New Orleans, as poor as its record stands, is currently in first place in the NFC South and would jump a full game ahead of the division rival Falcons with a win tonight. This game should have a lot of tensions as these two struggling teams battle with completely different forms of motivation.
For the Bears, it will be a game of trying to figure out what is wrong with its abysmal defense. The unit has been given up an NFL-worst 29.1 points per game this season and ranks fourth to last in total defense. This secondary was gashed by injuries early in the season and since then has been torched by opposing quarterbacks. Against an electric Saints passing attack, look for Bears’ defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to bring the house early to throw Drew Brees off and get his defense off the field. Also expect the Bears to limit Jimmy Graham’s success with double coverage his way all night. When Graham is taken out of the game, the Saints tend to struggle. On offense, Head Coach Mark Trestman will likely look to find a balanced attack against a terrible Saints defense. Look for Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery involved a lot in the attack plan, especially with Brandon Marshall injured.
Meanwhile, New Orleans has to find some sort of plan to fix its defense. The unit is allowed the most yards per game in the league this year and sit only two spots ahead of the Bears for the higher amount of points allowed per game. There is also some talk that Saint’s safety Kenny Vaccaro could be benched for his recent poor play. The coaching staff is clearly looking to mix it up in an attempt to give this defense a spark. Offensively, the Saint’s will probably air it out early and often against the slumping Bears defensive back but expect Brees to look away from Kyle Fuller. The Chicago rookie has been a ball magnet and can cause trouble. Look for Mark Ingram to play a role but mainly later in the game when the defense is tired.
Prediction: The Saints come out firing early on but the Bears play with a lot of tenacity causing Brees to make some mistakes and keep the game close. Watch for Jay Cutler to play with a chip on his shoulder after the “buyer’s remorse” comments made this week by the coaching staff. This is likely going to be a shootout and it should be close, but the Saints need the win more and will come away with a 38-30 win in the Windy City.