The New Orleans Saints (5-8) go on the road to take on the Chicago Bears (5-8) on Monday Night Football (MNF). The NFC matchup has playoff implications, despite both teams having losing records.
The Saints can help them themselves with a win on the road at Soldier Field, putting the New Orleans team atop the NFC South over the Carolina Panthers (5-8-1). A loss would mean a tie for second with the Atlanta Falcons (5-9) and playoff hopes might diminish.
If the Saints lose tonight, or one of their three remaining games, the NFC South representative in the playoffs would go into the postseason with a losing record. A victory tonight for the Saints, would mean first place and momentum into the final two games of the season.
In tonight’s Saints vs Bears matchup, the Bears look to play spoilers as they try to snap a two-game losing streak on the prime-time stage of MNF. They will have to do a much better job on defense. They have allowed over 34 points per game over the last five games and lost by a margin of almost 24 points in their last three losses.
Currently allowing the most points in the NFL, at 29.1 points per game, the Bears will also look to get their offense going. They have only put up 17 points per game over the last five games. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will look to minimize his turnover ratio. Right now he holds second place for the most interceptions in the NFL with 15, just behind Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) quarterback Blake Bortles, who has 17.
One problem that must be addressed for the Bears is getting their two big wide receivers involved more. Brandon Marshall in the last three games has caught the ball only six times because of a constant double team, allowing their running back Matt Forte to lead the team with 88 receptions. Alshon Jeffery, the other big wide out, has already passed his touchdown total of seven last year. Currently has eight touchdown catches and will look to make things easier for Jay Cutler.
Things lately for Jay Cutler have not been easy. A report surfaced where offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer criticized Jay Cutler, claiming the Bears are having buyers remorse for signing Cutler to a huge seven-year, $126.7 million contract in the offseason. Aaron Kromer was then reported to have had an emotional apology for the outspoken criticism of Cutler, acknowledging he should have kept his concerns in the locker room.
The Saints will have to pick it up on the defensive side. They are near the bottom of the league in many defensive categories, giving up 27.6 points per game and allowing over 5,000 yards of total offense thus far. Making up in part for the defense is the explosive offense of the Saints. Drew Brees is approaching 4,000 yards passing, currently with 3,983, and has the most consecutive 4,000-yard seasons in NFL history. Since 2006, Brees has eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark on eight straight occasions. Denver Broncos (10-4) quarterback Peyton Manning has come closest to Brees with five straight seasons of 4,000 yards passing from 1999-04 and again from 2006-10.
Saints running back Mark Ingram will have to have another good performance on the road. In two straight road games, Ingram has rushed for over 100 yards. If he does go over 100 yards, he will be the fourth Saint in team history to rush over 100 yards in three consecutive road games. Pro bowler Deuce McAllister was the last Saint to rush over in 100 yards in consecutive road games, with five straight. The Saints vs the Bears on MNF will mark the first time they ever meet on a Monday night and the 9th time they meet up since 2001. The record between teams has been split, at 4-4 since 2001.
Commentary By Daniel Gudino
Photo courtesy of : John Tolva – Flickr License