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NFL 2017 Week 8: Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints preview and prediction

The Saints host Chicago as they look to extend their four-game win streak


Chicago pulled out an unexpected 17-3 win last week against the Carolina Panthers. An early fumble return for a touchdown, followed by a pick-six, from Eddie Jackson gave the Bears all the offense they would need as their defense stifled the Panthers throughout the game. Jordan Howard once again shouldered the burden of moving the chains and draining the clock as Mitchell Trubisky threw just seven passes all day.

New Orleans went to Lambeau Field last week to face the Green Bay Packers and came away 26-17 winners. Without Aaron Rodgers going against them, the Saints defense had an easy time against the pass, but they struggled to contain the Packers on the ground as rookie Aaron Jones picked up over 100 yards at more than 7.0 a carry.

Can we see a passing game?

Mitchell Trubisky has thrown just 48 passes in his three starts for the Bears so far, completing half of them for 348 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. While Cleveland and Houston are doing a good job of seeing just what their rookie passers have, Chicago are yet to scratch the surface of what Trubisky can do. The likely reason is that he is struggling to handle a pro offense, which has its own problems, but with Trubisky barely throwing it has severely limited the Bears offense and they need to know by the end of this season if they can build a team with him at the helm.

The no-name defense

Go ahead and name a starter on Chicago’s defense… You can’t can you? Long gone are the days of Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman, and yet this Bears defense is an impressive unit. ranked 10th in pass defense DVOA, a combination of good pass rush and a nice rotation in the secondary has them giving teams a tough time.

Akiem Hicks has been a monster on the inside for the Bears, picking up six sacks and nine QB hits, while Pernell McPhee and Leonard Floyd attack the edge. Even with Terron Armstead back at left tackle, Drew Brees will be harassed all day.

Running into trouble

While the Saints defense is better than many thought it would be, they are struggling against the run, ranking 30th in yards per carry allowed (4.9). That does not bode well given Chicago’s current strategy of handing off to Jordan Howard as often as possible. The Saints will need a good game from their front seven if they want to avoid an upset here.

Matchup to Watch: Zach Miller vs Vonn Bell/Kenny Vaccaro

Chicago lack any sort of outside receiver at the moment, making tight end Zach Miller their most consistent threat. While New Orleans’ safeties will have to support the front seven against the run, they can’t sleep on their coverage responsibilities, because when Trubisky does pull it he will be looking for Miller.

Fantasy Tip: Saints WR Michael Thomas

While the Bears defense as a whole is good, they have struggled against #1 receivers, which makes Michael Thomas a very good DFS option this week.

Betting Tip: Bears (+9.5)

That is a lot of points to get, even on the road against a streaking team. Chicago’s defense is good enough to think they can keep the score down, and there is good back door potential in the offense.

Prediction: Saints 30-23 Bears

This game looks like it will be close early, but the Saints will run away in the end. Chicago’s defense is good, but without turnovers they will struggle to get off the field in good time, meaning they will wear down and start conceding, which will force John Fox to turn to Trubisky.

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    2. Chicago Bears
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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

NFL 2017 Week 8: Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints preview and prediction

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