After three games on Saturday, the NFL playoffs will continue with the rest of the Wild Card round on Sunday. One Sunday matchup features an NFC showdown as the No. 7 Chicago Bears (8-8) take on the No. 2 New Orleans Saints (12-4). The Saints will host this one from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and kickoff is at 4:40 P.M. Eastern.
After losing last week 35-16, the Bears somewhat backed into the playoffs, courtesy of a Rams victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Still, they will look to regroup against a solid Saints team. These two teams collided back at the beginning of November, and the Saints beat the Bears by a field goal in overtime.
The Saints enter on a two-game winning streak after putting up a combined 85 points in their last two games. Last Sunday, they beat the Carolina Panthers 33-7 behind three touchdowns from Drew Brees. They were without Alvin Kamara last week due to COVID-19, but he is expected to play this Sunday.
The Saints are overwhelming favorites in this one. They are -460 to win while the Bears’ moneyline sits at +360. The spread features the Bears +9.5 while the over/under for total points is 47.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, New Orleans has been one of the best teams in the league. They rank fifth in the NFL in scoring, averaging 30.1 points per game. The Bears fall to 22nd averaging 23.2 points per game.
Defensively, it is once again the Saints that come out on top. They rank fifth in scoring defense, allowing just 21.1 points per game. The Bears come in at a respectable 14th, allowing 23.1 points.
Bears Fighting Through Injuries Heading Into Playoffs
Chicago was able to make it into the playoffs, but it came at a cost last week. Both linebacker Roquan Smith and wide receiver Darnell Mooney were injured against the Packers and are questionable for Sunday.
Smith leads the team in tackles with 98 and tied in interceptions with two. Most importantly, he could be pivotal in neutralizing Kamara, and his absence would really hurt a Bears’ unit that has struggled lately.
Mooney has come on as of late and was having a huge game against the Packers before his injury. Before leaving, he had 11 receptions for 93 yards.
The Bears will hope to dominate the ground game Sunday. David Montgomery has made his presence known as of late and finished the season with 247 carries for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 54 receptions for 438 yards and another two scores.
New Orleans Wants To Win One For Brees
There have been plenty of rumblings that this may be Brees’ last season. If that is the case, the Saints want to end it on a high note.
Expect them to come out sharp behind their quarterback. On the season, Brees threw for 2,942 yards, 24 touchdowns, and six interceptions despite missing a few games with injured ribs.
The biggest key to their offense is Kamara. He had to sit out last week due to testing positive for COVID-19 but is expected to play Sunday. In his last game against the Vikings, he rushed 22 times for 155 yards and a historic six touchdowns, tying a single-game NFL record.
When the Saints beat the Bears earlier in the season, they were without their star wide receivers, Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Both are expected back for this game.
Defensively, the team is led by Demario Davis (119 tackles), Trey Hendrickson (13.5 sacks), and a few players with three interceptions. The Saints received their own bad news, though, as Hendrickson has been ruled out for this game.
Taking New Orleans To Win, But Can They Cover?
Last week, the Bears came in with a definitive gameplan against the Packers to establish the ground game and control the clock. Until about eleven minutes left, when the Bears had the ball with a chance to take the lead, the strategy worked.
To beat the Saints, they will likely need to employ the same strategy. If they are to win, though, the key is that they can’t trade touchdowns for field goals and must be better in the red zone.
With the return of Kamara and Thomas for the Saints, and the likely absence of Mooney and Smith for the Bears, I am just not sold that the Bears’ strategy will work this week.
I expect Kamara to have a huge day, and the Saints’ defense will likely focus on the run and make Trubisky beat them, something he hasn’t shown he can do in his career.
Ultimately, I think the Saints win this one, and it likely won’t be close. For my money, I am taking the Saints to win and cover the 9.5-point spread.
FREE PICK: New Orleans Saints (-9.5).