The Chicago Bears (3-4) will take on the New Orleans Saints (4-2) as the Saints look to end their win streak to five games. Today, we’ll look at three things that should have a significant impact on the result of the game.
1) Dennis Allen
After the first two weeks of the season, it seemed as if the Saints defense was the same unit it has been in years past as they allowed an average of 32.5 points a game against the Vikings and Patriots. However, it has been a completely different story since then. Over the past four weeks, opponents have averaged 17 points a game. Although Dennis Allen has done a good job, the progress is largely a result of the players better executing their assignments.
Against the Bears, Dennis Allen will have a decision to make. Chicago doesn’t boast a high-powered offense, they have a potent running attack. They currently rank seventh in the league with 884 rushing yards. Lately, New Orleans has struggled with run defense; they’ve allowed an average of 114.2 yards a game. Allen may opt to trust his secondary against rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and put seven defenders in the box. It remains to be seen what Allen will do to stop the run, but the Saints can’t afford to give up explosive plays on the ground.
2) Saints O-Line vs. Bears D-Line
Drew Brees has only been sacked five times this year, lowest in the league. Despite all of the injuries on the offensive line, they’ve done a great job of providing protection for Brees and creating holes for the running backs. This week, they’ll face a different type of test in the Bears defensive line.
The Bears have already sacked opposing quarterbacks 21 times. Akiem Hicks, the former Saint, has been leading the charge as he has six sacks on the year. He has been a consistent force from the interior for the Bears, and he has developed into someone capable of ruining a gameplan. Backup-turned-starter Senior Kelemente will likely be responsible for limiting Hicks. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Saints double team Hicks in the run game in order to open holes up the middle.
3) Kenny Vaccaro
Kenny Vaccaro has been playing out of his mind in recent weeks. His versatility has given Dennis Allen flexibility. In the Saints’ three-safety set, Vaccaro lines up in the slot. He could have a big role this week as he’ll be called on to cover Bears tight end Zach Miller. Miller leads the Bears in receiving yards with 236. One of the keys to making life difficult for a rookie quarterback is taking away their top option.
In addition to covering Zach Miller, Vaccaro may be asked to take care of running back Tarik Cohen. Cohen fits the mold of an NFL scat back as he’s a solid runner and a great receiver. The Bears use Cohen from the backfield, slot, and split out wide. Vaccaro will be active on Sunday.
- Saints win by a score of 24-14.
- Michael Thomas has more than 100 receiving yards.
- Mitchell Trubisky throws for two touchdowns.