The New Orleans Saints gear up for their Sunday afternoon, Nickelodeon-aired, playoff matchup hosting the Chicago Bears. The two teams met in Week 8 of the regular season which resulted in a 26-23 overtime victory for the Saints. Now, as the two teams brace for a postseason rematch, the New Orleans Saints are 10.5-point favorites. That spread makes them the biggest favorite of Super Wild Card Weekend.
Straight-Up: Chicago (+440), New Orleans (-560)
Against the Spread: Chicago (+10.5), New Orleans (-10.5)
Over/Under: o48 (-110), u48 (-110)
Saints in the Playoffs
Lots of focus throughout the Saints’ 12-4 2020 season has been around their 2017 - 2019 season playoff exits. Since 2006, New Orleans is 8-7 straight up in playoffs and 6-9 against the spread. When favored at home during that time they have won six of eight, covering twice. One of those covers came in the Wildcard round which consists of three games wherein the Saints have gone 2-1.
This is only the third time in the playoffs the Saints have been favored by 10 or more points. In those previous two games they went 1-1 both straight up and against the spread. The win and cover came from their 45-28 home Wild Card victory against the Detroit Lions in 2012. In the regular season, when favored by 10+, the Saints are 21-7 since 2006. Often times New Orleans is accused of not showing up when favored heavily, the history says differently. However, it’s always easier to remember the losses.
In NFC Wild Card games as a whole, the Saints are 3-2 straight up, 2-3 ATS.
Bears vs. Saints since 2006
The Saints have had a lot of success against the Bears in the regular season going 6-2. Additionally, they’ve been particularly hot over the last ten years where Drew Brees is 5-0 with 10 passing touchdowns and no interceptions. However, since 2006 New Orleans is 0-1 in the playoffs against the Bears and 0-2 all-time. Worth noting that this will be the first playoff matchup between these two teams in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; where the Saints (all told) haven’t lost to Chicago since 2005. Both previous postseason games took place at Soldier Field.
With a wide spread like 10.5 points, covering might be challenging as the Saints are 12-16 against plus 10-point spreads. But with their success against the Bears, there’s precedent they could cover. New Orleans’ average point differential in their most recent six wins vs. Chicago is exactly 10.5 points.
The Return of Michael Thomas
One of the biggest storylines this season has been the health (among other aspects) of Saints receiver Michael Thomas. After making the decision to shut himself down for the final three games of the season, Thomas is back for Sunday’s matchup and looking to get back to his All-Pro, record-breaking level of play.
Thomas has appeared in two games against the Chicago Bears in his short but prolific career. In both games he caught seven or more passes and piled on a 208 total receiving yards including 131 last season with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm.
Thomas’ seven catch, 77 yard day in 2017 was the last time the Bears have faced both Brees and Thomas who have played only 10 quarters together so far this season.
The effect of Michael Thomas’ individual presence is clear. The Saints are 50-20 when he plays since being drafted in 2016 and 6-1 this season despite four and a half games without Brees at QB. It’s the connection between the two stars that is most remarkable. New Orleans has averaged 28 points per game with Michael Thomas this season. That total leaps to 33 points per game when Brees was the starter along with a 20-point average margin of victory. That margin is, of course, bolstered heavily by a 35-point win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is exactly that division rival the Saints would face next week if they indeed win against the Chicago Bears.
Can the Saints make good on the Vegas faithful? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC , “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RossJacksonNOLA and subscribe to my daily Saints podcast, Locked On Saints.