It isn't the matchup between two unbeatens that some thought it could be a week ago, but Sundays game between the 4-0 New Orleans Saints and the 3-1 Chicago Bears should be plenty exciting. The Saints are coming off an exciting victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. The game started out looking like a slugfest before the Saints put up a couple unanswered scores in the second and third quarters.
Unfortunately for Chicago, they're coming off a thoroughly disappointing loss to the NFC North rival Detroit Lions in Week 4. This game was supposed to be two unbeaten teams facing off and instead, the Bears are fighting to maintain a tie against the aforementioned Lions in the division.
We'll take a look at both teams tonight.
Meet the Bears
The Bears hit the big red button this offseason and brought in a somewhat unknown head coach in Marc Trestman. He was brought in to fix the offense and while the numbers don't necessarily add up to that, he's managed to keep the offense performing at a consistent level. Last season, the Bears had a maddening tendency to disappear until the fourth quarter, or to play well and collapse in said quarter.
But while they only have the No. 19 passing offense and the No. 16 rushing offense in the NFL, they have managed to avoid that inconsistency. Sure, they lost to the Lions, but failing to out-gun Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson isn't anything to be ashamed about at this point.
That offense will rely heavily on running back Matt Forte this week. New Orleans pass defense has been stellar, allowing just 192.3 passing yards per game, but their rushing defense is No. 22 in the league, allowing 112.3 yards per game.
Meet the Saints
New Orleans is one of those teams that will be as good so long as they have one player: quarterback Drew Brees. There's plenty of reasons for the team's success, but it starts with Brees. Having head coach Sean Payton back for a full season (barring any other suspensions, of course) can't hurt, either.
The Saints have been powering through opponents, putting up 30-plus points over the past two weeks in games against the Arizona Cardinals and the aforementioned Dolphins. Miami is a deceptively good team, and the Saints also bested the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, so their 4-0 record is plenty legitimate.
They're good on offense and they're good on defense, and many believe they'll be 5-0 after Week 5.
Local Takes: Bears
Steven Schweickert of Windy City Gridiron believes the Bears need to get running back Matt Forte outside to take advantage of the Saints' pass rush:
Offensively, Forte was off to a good start last week, but then things kind of got out of hand. So, you'd hope this week Forte gets a little more use (because the Bears don't give up 21 points that quickly, ideally). The Saints have some strong edge rushers in Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette, so getting Forte going on the outside (similar to that toss for a touchdown...) could get some significant yardage.
Local Takes: Saints
Ryan Edwards of Canal Street Chronicles says the Saints struggle at Soldier Field -- and its a big problem:
Of all the factors to discuss in this game, the one that may be the biggest problem for the Saints is Soldier Field. Under Sean Payton, Soldier Field has been an unwelcoming venue for the high flying offense. The weekend calls for a high chance of showers and thunderstorms that will move an untimely cold front into the area. As of this writing, Sunday's forecast in Chicago calls for a high of 59 degrees with a 40% chance of rain and 15 mph winds. Considering the high on Friday is 85 degrees, you can see that Soldier Field is always unkind to the Saints.
Follow the Fun
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Rob Ryan shuts down opposing offenses like they're the MFing government! #topicalhumour— Canal St. Chronicles (@SaintsCSC) October 1, 2013
Three of SB Nation's five experts picked the Saints to win on the road and best the Bears. The two dissenters were Stephen White and David Fucillo, who think the Bears will get back to their winning ways and hold. Check out the rest of the Week 5 picks here.
The Saints opened up as 2.5-point favorites on the road, according to OddsShark. The line narrowed from there, though, with many prominent books having even money on both teams mid-week.