The New Orleans Saints will meet the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round of the 2020 NFC Playoffs. The game will be a rematch of the Saints Week 8 overtime win at Soldier Field earlier this year.
The Saints and Bears also played nine games against common opponents this season, as each team was scheduled to play the other’s respective divisions in the regular season. The Saints, having the better overall record, of course held the advantage over the Bears in wins against common opponents, but lets take a deeper dive into some of these games in order to see who truly will have an advantage come Sunday.
Buccaneers (Saints 2-0, Bears 1-0)
The Bears met Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a Thursday night in a rematch of the two Super Bowl 52 quarterbacks and their new teams. Nick Foles once again beat Tom Brady, as the two Super Bowl MVPs struggled to move the ball in what was a defensive struggle. The Buccaneers led for most of the game, but the Bears took the lead for good on a Cairo Santos field goal with 1:08 left to play.
The Saints, of course, swept the Buccaneers, just like they did with every other NFC South opponent in 2020. Both games were a testament to the Saints defensive prowess, as they combined to intercept Tom Brady five times in the two meetings. The Saints were also able to move the ball with relative ease against the Bucs 6th ranked defense, scoring 34 and 38 points in their two matchups, much higher than Tampa’s season average of 22 points allowed per game.
Based on this common opponent, a big advantage is held by the Saints, as they handled Tampa Bay well in Week 1, and thoroughly defeated them in Week 9. The Bears held the Buccaneers to only 19 points in their Week 5 meeting, but did not intercept Tom Brady once, and let Ronald Jones II run for 106 yards on only 17 carries. The Saints held Jones II to only 66 yards on the same amount of carries in Week 1, and only allowed only 8 total rushing yards in Week 9.
Falcons (Saints 2-0, Bears 1-0)
The Bears and Atlanta Falcons met in Week 3, in what would be the game in which Mitchell Trubisky would ultimately be benched for Nick Foles for most of the first half of the season. The Bears were down 26-10 with 6:23 left in the 4th quarter. However, the Falcons did what they do best, blow leads. Foles led the Bears to a 16 point comeback in under seven minutes in a 4th quarter that the Bears didn’t force a single turnover while trailing, and also didn’t recover an onside kick.
The Saints swept the Falcons in 2020, beating them twice with Taysom Hill at QB. It is hard to judge the Saints offense against the Falcons this year, as both games came without Drew Brees under center. The defense came up big for New Orleans however, holding one of the better offenses in the league to only 25 combined points.
The Saints held the Falcons to fewer combined points in two games than the Bears did in one. They were also able to run the ball more effectively on Atlanta than the Bears, outgaining Chicago on the ground in both meetings. The Bears beat the Falcons of course, but trailed the entire game until very late in the 4th quarter, while the Saints didn’t trail the Falcons again in 2020 after taking a 10-9 lead late in the 2nd quarter of the first game.
Packers (Saints 0-1, Bears 0-2)
It comes as no surprise that neither the Bears nor Saints were able to beat the Packers this year. The Green Bay Packers posted a 13-3 record on their way to the top seed in the NFC. The Bears lost to the Packers by more than two touchdowns in each of their meetings, the second of which cost the Saints the #1 seed. Aaron Rodgers threw for an average of 225 yards and 4 TDs against the Bears, while Trubisky, who played in both games, had a TD-INT ratio of 3-3.
The Saints and Packers played a great game on Sunday Night Football back in Week 3. Rodgers and Brees each threw for over 280 yards and 3 TDs in a game the Saints would lose by a touchdown. A costly Taysom Hill fumble in the fourth quarter gave the Packers the lead for good, as the Saints were unable to recover an onside kick with 0:32 remaining.
The Saints definitely gave the Packers a harder time than the Bears in 2020. If they are used as a measuring stick, although neither team was able to defeat Green Bay, it is a clear edge to the Saints.
Lions (Saints 1-0, Bears 1-1)
The 5-11 Lions surprisingly played three close games against the playoff bound Saints and Bears in 2020, losing by fewer than seven points in each contest. The Bears defeated the Lions in Week 1 in a game that saw Mitchell Trubisky throw for 3 TDs and no interceptions. Despite this, the Bears only beat the Lions by four after scoring 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. The Lions in turn scored 14 unanswered points in the final 2:18 of the fourth quarter of their Week 13 matchup, after a Trubisky fumble set the Lions up with an automatic 1st and Goal.
Dude is just CLUTCH!— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 13, 2020
Fuller picks it in Lions territory.
: FOX #CHIvsDET | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/n3RH3vqcDp
The Saints relied on two touchdowns each from Tre’Quan Smith and Latavius Murray on their way to a six point victory in Detroit. The Saints registered 3 sacks in their one game against Detroit, the same amount as the Bears got in their two games against the Lions. The Lions scored a touchdown and converted a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter to bring the game to within six points. The Saints however were able to run out the clock after Alvin Kamara gained 5 yards on 3rd and 3 right after the 2-minute warning.
The Saints hold a clear edge in terms of common opponents in 2020, finishing a combined 8-1 against the Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers, Packers, Lions, and Vikings. The Bears finished 5-4 against this same group of teams, but also swept the Falcons Bucs and Panthers just like the Saints did. The Bears struggled more against the weaker NFC North than the Saints did, splitting games against the Vikings and Lions while the Saints defeated both teams.
The Saints defense is what set them apart in these common matchups, as they gave up a full 6.5 fewer points per game to opponents they shared with the Bears. The Saints offense also scored a full 8.5 more points per game than the Bears in said games. However, the Bears offense has vastly improved as of late, scoring 30+ points in four of their final five games of the season. If the Saints are going to beat the Bears on Sunday, they will have to put together another solid performance on defense to stop the Bears suddenly resurgent offense.
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