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Saints @ Bears: Key Matchups - if the Saints can’t slow the Bears offense, we have a problem

Let’s take a closer look at the matchups brewing in this potent NFC showdown at Ford Field

NFL: Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees is taking his 4-2 squad on the road to battle the 5-2 Chicago Bears. This 2006 NFC Championship rematch is juiced up and going to be the biggest NFC matchup of the weekend. This game may not be two teams aiming for the 1 seed, but the winner of this game could be at home during a potential playoff rematch.

Looking at the Bears, they have a team similar to the 2018 Bears squad. The Bears defense makes a lot of plays, while Nick Foles takes care of the football and makes 3-5 big throws to win the game. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are built on precision on offense, pass rush on defense, and consistent special teams plays.

This game will speak volumes of how real the Saints are. Besides a Week 1 matchup against Tampa, the Saints had no answer for the Raiders and the Packers. Drew Brees can’t fold against another real team in the Bears if they want a chance to compete in the playoffs. There are a few other key positions on the Saints squad that need to be efficient in this matchup. Let’s take a closer look:

Allen Robinson vs Marshon Lattimore

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Marshon Lattimore needs to visualize that every wide receiver is Mike Evans. He plays like a hall of fame corner through guts and quality anticipation when he’s prepared for Evans. Then when Lattimore squares off against any corner not named Mike Evans, he’s been playing like a Top-40 corner in the league.

Allen Robinson is no slouch wide receiver for Nick Foles and company. He’s Top-8 in receiving yards and he’s performed at this level with a Trubisky/Foles sandwich at QB. If Lattimore has a poor game in the cold Chicago suburbs, I wouldn’t be comfortable with Brees making it up for his offense with ease.

Charles Leno Jr. vs Marcus Davenport/Trey Hendrickson

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The “two firsts”, I mean Marcus Davenport, claimed his first sack in 2020 last week. Granted, the play came on a twist call where he got to take on a running back. Even the shoulder of a running back. Well, hey, Davenport is healthy and he has more confidence when he looked on his stat sheet on Monday morning. Nonetheless, between Marcus Davenport and Trey Hendrickson, the edge rushing duo combines for 5.5 sacks opposite Cameron Jordan. Earth to Jordan?

The Bears left tackle: Charles Leno Jr. Charles isn’t a hot shot shot at the left tackle position. That was illustrated when the edge rusher who got cut by the Saints-Mario Edwards Jr. was terrorizing Foles via Leno’s side of protection in Week 8. The Bears passing game isn’t very lethal as is. If they can’t protect Foles, we might see a Saints offense get hot with great field position, because the Bears are punting too often.

Saints interior offensive line vs Akiem Hicks

NFL: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Akiem Hicks, also known as Rob Ryan’s best friend, also known as Cam Jordan’s partner in crime, is off to an admirable start to the mid-regular season campaign. Hicks has 3.5 sacks from the trenches of the defensive line. Outside of being a pressure machine and run plugging force, Hicks defeats lots of double teams and doesn’t fail at bringing the QB to the dirt.

If anybody wants to know why Latavius Murray looked like a 2012 Adrian Peterson in last year’s outing against Chicago, it was because Hicks missed that contest.

The defenders to Hicks bullying, will be Andrus Peat, Erik McCoy, and Cesar Ruiz. This unit will ultimately be the key for their 41-year old, statue quarterback to have success, but it’s more important that they can establish the run game in Week 8, compared to other games. It will be cold in Chicago. Chicago has an elite defense. If Akiem Hicks seeks revenge on his former team, Drew Brees will be forced to have an outstanding game late in his career, in cold weather, without a fresh Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, while getting a Hicks facemask continuously in his face.

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