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Bear Country: New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears

This is a MUST WIN game for Chicago.

<a href=https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trubisky_detroit_camrongood_2017.jpg

Bear Country: New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears


Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Friday morning, I was preparing to write this article and I saw breaking news across my twitter feed:

My perspective on this game changed immediately…

This is a MUST WIN game for Chicago.

Here’s some storylines to pay attention to:


THE BEARS ARE CATCHING THE SAINTS AT THE RIGHT TIME

The New Orleans Saints are 5-1 on the season and have been dominant on all three phases of the game. If there’s any time in the season to play them, however, it’s right now.

The Saints are without key players at important positions. Quarterback Drew Brees is still on the mend due to a an injury on his throwing thumb. Star running back Alvin Kamara is out and will leave a huge void in the running and passing game. Tight end Jared Cook will also be missed due to the Saints lack of impactful offensive depth.

You can’t take this team lightly though. Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has literally saved the Saints season up to this point leading the team to a 4-1 record while passing for 1,089 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Star receiver Michael Thomas continues his dominance hauling in 53 passes for 632 yards and 3 TD”s through only 6 GAMES!

This game may have key implications for playoff positioning moving forward. A loss would likely rule out any type of first-round bye if the Bears make the playoffs.

EVERYONE APPEARS TO BE HEALTHY AFTER THE BYE WEEK

The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Chicago. The team sustained many injuries both offensively and defensively through the first five weeks and now appears to have (almost) all hands-on deck.

Offensively, Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is still questionable but appears ready to go, mentally and physically “passing the test” and “stacked good days together” according to Nagy. Several of Trubisky’s weapons also appear to be healthy: receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion), tight end Trey Burton (lingering groin issues) and running back Mike Davis (personal reason).

On defense, the biggest injury concern right now is star defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Hicks went to the injured reserve last week following an elbow injury and should be out at least eight weeks. Hicks is the emotional leader of the defense and will need to be replaced by committee. Second year tackle Bilal Nichols will be back from a broken hand and should provide some help.

MITCH TRUBISKY IS BACK

As of Saturday morning it appears that Mitch Trubisky will start tomorrow. Despite all of his early-season issues, a limited Trubisky is still more of a dynamic threat than spot starter Chase Daniel.

Questions still linger if Trubisky is cleared to play. Last season Trubisky suffered a throwing shoulder injury and was out two games. He came back and was AWFUL against the Rams. Trubisky also missed two games this time around, but this injury was to his non-throwing shoulder. While he should be fine throwing the ball, the concern lies in how he reacts to getting hit and how the injury could affect his mobility.

We will have to see how he comes out of the gate on this one. If he stinks it up again these voices will get louder:

CHICAGO IS (FINALLY) EXPERIMENTING WITH CHANGES ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE

The Bears finally pulled the plug on beloved guard Kyle Long after 7 seasons likely ending his NFL career.

Long will forever be a “Bear for Life” but as I mentioned in my last article, Long wasn’t himself this season. He was no longer able to do his job and a change needed to be made. .

To counter this move, Nagy commented that the team may rotate veterans Ted Larson and Rashaad Coward at guard this next game. The Bears also brought up promising rookie Alex Bars from the practice squad. Bars actually turned down a huge opportunity by the Patriots but to stay with the team.

As we all know, the offensive line needs to improve, and the run and pass game have been suffering as a result. The running game is averaging less than 3.4 yards per rushing attempt. The quarterbacks haven’t had a clean pocket to throw in. When Trubisky doesn’t have room to throw he is not only bad but Eli Manning bad:

How well this unit adjusts may define this season.

IS THIS THE BIGGEST GAME OF MATT NAGY’S COACHING TENURE?

Matt Nagy has been great since he became the coach of the Chicago Bears

He was the 2018 NFL coach of the year. He led this dormant franchise who was 14-34 in their previous three seasons to a 12-4 record and a division title in his first season. His players love him. The chairman has high hopes for him. He successfully changed his team’s culture. He’s led in every game he’s coached and he has even lost admirably:

The biggest issue? Nagy came into this job hailed as an offensive genius. Almost a season and a half into the job and his offensive numbers are towards the bottom of the league. I tweeted this in my last article and it needs to be repeated:

Here’s hoping that the bye helped him look straight in the mirror. It appears he has found one issue to correct as he told Bears play by play man Jeff Joniak:

 “First down needs to be a better play for us, run or pass. It needs to be completed and it needs to be another first down. If I call a run, and it’s not second-and-ten, it’s a run and it’s second and seven or six. That’s what we need to do.”

Let’s hope so.

PREDICTION:

As I stated before, this is a MUST WIN.

This should be a low scoring defensive battle.

Mitch Trubisky does not have to win this game. He doesn’t have to be remarkable; he needs to manage the game well and not turn the ball over. Same can be said for Teddy Bridgewater.

The Bears REALLY need this game and are at home. (Something to keep in mind is that the Saints have Arizona at home next week followed by their bye week to get healthy.)

Bears win 17-13.

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