The New Orleans Saints have a tough matchup on the road against the Chicago Bears in Week 7 that is going to require the team to play the perfect game.
Luckily for the Saints, this is not a night game and the weather report has changed from rainy to clear, so they do not have to deal with the Bears’ version of the 12th Man, “Bear weather”.
Regardless, the Bears are still one of the hardest teams to beat on the road and are coming off of a playoff appearance. The team has not started as good as they would have liked but the defense is still very dangerous and is going to give the Saints’ fits.
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Luckily for New Orleans, the team has proven that it can win ugly with a 12-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys and a 13-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The defense has really stepped up with Drew Brees out and may not be as good as the Bears but can certainly keep up.
With the narrative of a defensive matchup, many have been looking at the quarterback position to decide this game. The first opinion is that the Saints have a better outlook, as both Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel play pretty poorly.
However, with the talent of both defenses, I don’t think we can really say that Bridgewater will make the difference. Sure, he gives the Saints a better chance of having a big game than Trubisky or Daniel does for the Bears, but he still is not good enough to take over the game and beat this defense.
So no, despite the Bears’ bad quarterback situation, that is not the massive advantage that the Saints enter this game with.
Instead, it comes in everyone’s favorite aspect of the game and one that totally never gets overlooked: special teams. The difference in this game is the special teams unit and the Saints have an advantage.
The Bears do have a great return man in Tarik Cohen, which is concerning. Cohen ranks first in yards per punt return this season with 14.9. However, Deonte Harris is not that far behind, averaging 10 yards per punt return, which is sixth in the league.
The Bears do have a slight edge there, but not one that is significant. Where the Saints have the advantage is in the field position battle, as they have a punter that can completely neutralize Cohen.
Pat O’Donnell does have a booming leg for the Chicago Bears, evident by his 75-yard season-high this season, but he is not the finesse punter that Thomas Morstead is. Morstead is second in the NFL with 17 punts within the 20-yard line this season and has accomplished that in 26 punts. Of those 26, only eight have been returned for a total of 68 yards.
Just over 65 percent of the time he is pinning the other team within 20 yards. O’Donnell has not been successful in putting the other team inside the 20. He has eight such punts, also on 26 attempts. That is a rate of just over 30 percent.
Granted, part of that has to do with where O’Donnell has to punt the ball but that is just another part of the Saints’ advantage. The Saints are going to win the field position battle all night, and it may take some time to put points on the board but they are going to continually be giving themselves better and better chances.
With an offense that can put together a few plays more frequently than the Bears and a punter that excels at pinning return men, the New Orleans Saints’ biggest advantage this Sunday will be in the field position battle.