“When The North & South Collide”

NFC Wild Card

(7) Chicago Bears at (2) New Orleans Saints

Bears: I remember talking about them on the radio and saying these exact words: “The Bears are playing with a defeated attitude”. At that moment, I saw a team who would fall behind in games and not even attempt to get themselves back into the game. Once they hit their winning streak, I noticed the confidence within them. I’m not sure what I’ll get from Mitchell Trubisky. In my opinion, he’s an average quarterback when he’s simply controlling things. If he throws the ball over 35 times, the Bears won’t win games because he’s not that type of quarterback. On Sunday against the Packers, that was the worst I’ve seen their defense look probably since the first meeting against Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers just picked them apart (he does this to everybody) and they just looked out of sync. They’re a playoff team though. They’ll face New Orleans on Sunday.

Saints: I’ll never count them out. At one point, they were 1-2 and everyone thought the world was crumbling. Just let them win one game and they’ll be fine. They had a nine-game winning streak going for them. After two straight losses, I came out and listed the reason why they lose big games. It’s always appeared to be Sean Payton getting away from the running game late in the season. I understand it’s a passing league and all, but running the ball still has its positives. Then, Alvin Kamara had a huge game against the Minnesota Vikings scoring six touchdowns. Without Michael Thomas, the Saints have adjusted their style of play which is the quick passing game. On the other side, the defense has been one of the best in the league. I see a fast unit that’s physical in each tier. They welcome the Bears to town next.

Bears X-Factor: Akiem Hicks– I stress the importance of this man and his impact to the Bears defense often. It’s tough to generate a pass rush on defense, especially from the inside. No man his size should be moving as quickly as he does up the field to get that rush. Furthermore, Akiem gets to the quarterback and he can stop the run.

Saints X-Factor: Emmanuel Sanders– He knows a thing or two about playing in playoff games. At this point of his career, he’s not a number one receiver. Emmanuel simply knows his role within an offensive scheme. As the season went along, I noticed Drew getting more comfortable with him. Watch for him to get some looks early on.

Final Thoughts: They played a thrilling game back in week eight that went to overtime. The Saints won it on a field goal. At this point, both teams are different. In that first meeting, Michael Thomas didn’t play. He’s expected to be back this time around. That Saints defense will be tasked with limiting the mobility of Mitchell Trubisky. He’s beating us by throwing the football over the top. Knowing that Drew isn’t 100 percent, I expect the Bears to rush him early on. Also, look for Chuck Pagano to throw many different looks at the quarterback.

Prediction: Saints 31 Bears 17

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