The 5-2 Chicago Bears will face the 4-2 New Orleans Saints in Chicago for their Week 8 matchup. This will hopefully be a bounce back game for a Bears team that lost 24-10 to the Los Angeles Rams the previous week. This Saints team is very good, with their main weaknesses being red zone and pass defense. Here are 3 keys to the game for Week 8.
Succeed in the red zone
One major struggle for the Bears offense this season is scoring inside the opponent’s 20 yard-line, known as the red zone. Inside the red zone, they have only scored 47.6% of the time, which is 29th worst in the NFL. This is a large factor for the ineffectiveness of the Bears offense.
If there was ever a time to turn this pattern around, it is against the Saints.
The Saints defense is worst in the league in the red zone, allowing a score 86.4% of the time.
This means that if the Bears can get to the red zone, they should have little trouble scoring. Head coach and play caller Matt Nagy needs to take advantage of this by getting the Bears offense in a position where they can score.
It will be vital for the Bears offense to at least get inside the Saints 20 yard line, because if they do, they will most likely be able to put points on the board.
Slow down Alvin Kamara
The Saints offense relies on running back Alvin Kamara.
He is incredibly skilled, both running the ball and as a pass catcher. He leads the team in both rushing yards and receiving yards, and is accountable for 7 of the team’s 20 touchdowns.
It will most likely be linebacker Roquan Smith covering Kamara. He has a good record this season in pass coverage, as he has only allowed a 61% completion percentage. However, Kamara is better than any other player Smith has faced this season. If the Bears are to slow down the Saints offense, Smith will need to prove his pass coverage ability.
The Bears defense will also need to be successful in stopping Kamara in the run game.
This season, Kamara has 364 rushing yards on 75 attempts, averaging 4.9 yards per attempt with 4 rushing touchdowns. He has found a lot of success running the ball, and not many teams have been able to stop him.
Meanwhile, the Bears run defense has just been average this year. They have allowed 4.3 yards per attempt, ranking 15th in the NFL.
To slow down Kamara, both Roquan Smith and Chicago’s run defense will need to step it up against the star dual-threat running back.
Effectively throw the ball
The Saints passing defense has struggled this season. They have allowed the 15th most passing yards, the most passing touchdowns, and only have 3 interceptions. They also are middle of the pack in sacks, with 14. This means that Foles should not be pressured as much as he was in last week’s game against the Rams.
The Bears need to take advantage of this, because the Saints defense is much stronger in the running game. They have allowed the 4th least rushing yards, the 9th least rushing touchdowns, and the 3rd least rushing yards per attempt.
A Bears offense that has not been able to run the ball all season will not fare any better against this Saints defense.
If the Bears wants to be able to move the ball downfield and get into position to score, they will need to take advantage of the Saints mediocre passing defense.
The Saints are a top team in the NFC and do not have many flaws. The Bears offense, in particular its passing game, will most likely play better than it did against the Rams in Week 7, but it will not do enough to match Alvin Kamara and the explosive Saints offense.
Saints 24 – Bears 16