Tale Of The Tape: New Orleans Saints At Chicago Bears
- QuarterbackThe Saints are revitalized this season after last year’s non-playoff season. The offense is dangerous once again as Drew Brees excels at finding the weak spots in the defense and exploiting them. Brees is a very accurate passer and he combines that with the ability to buy time so he can wait for his receivers to get open before throwing the ball.The Bears would like Jay Cutler to have more of Brees’ ability to sense the pass rush and make the proper decision with the ball in his hands. While he did a fairly good job at that in the first three games of the season, he struggled badly in Week Four against the Lions with three interceptions and a lost fumble. Cutler does have a quick release and a powerful arm.
- OffenseThe Saints don’t need to have a dominating running game, but they need just enough from Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles to keep opposing defenses honest and take some of the pressure off of Brees. Tight end Jimmy Graham is almost certainly the best at his position in the league because of his hands and route running. Marques Colston knows how to get open and make key catches.The Bears need running back Matt Forte to be a dominant figure in their offense. Forte excels as a receiver and he can also bust long plays as a running back. He had a 53-yard run for a touchdown against the Lions. Brandon Marshall can use his size, strength and running ability to make big plays after the catch, while Alshon Jeffery is much improved in his second season.
- DefenseThe Saints have shown significant improvement on the defensive side of the ball this season as they rank fourth in total defense and a remarkable second in pass defense. Defensive end Cameron Jordan is a force coming around the corner while he gets support from defensive end Junior Galette. Curtis Lofton is a solid middle linebacker who does not miss tackles.There’s some degree of panic in Chicago after the Bears gave up 40 points to the Lions in Week Four, but the defense is still solid and that was likely just a bad game. The Bears are much better on defense when they play at Soldier Field. While linebacker Lance Briggs remains at the top of his game, there has been some slippage from defensive end Julius Peppers.
- Special TeamsThe Saints have been better than average in both punt and kickoff coverage this season, although they don’t rank with the elite teams. Placekicker Garrett Hartley is a reliable field goal kicker, while Thomas Morstead is one of the best punters in the league.The Bears usually do an excellent job covering punts and kickoffs, although they had a gaffe against the Lions when Micheal Spurlock had a 57-yard punt return against them. Robbie Gould is one of the best field goal kickers in the league, as he has made all seven of his FG attempts this season.
While the Saints have the key edge at the quarterback position, the Bears will be focused to bounce back from their sloppy defeat at Detroit. The Bears' defense has a chance to assert itself, while the Saints go on the road after playing at home on Monday night, which is never an easy assignment. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor