Chicago Bears: Bears vs. Saints preview

Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers

Look for Julius Peppers to play a big role in Sunday’s game

The Chicago Bears (3-1) host the New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Soldier Field Sunday at noon.

The Saints will be operating on short rest, as they previously played Monday against the Miami Dolphins. In that game, the defense caused four Dolphins turnovers and they sacked Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill four times as well.

This can not be allowed if the Bears are to stand a chance in this game, so the offensive line, especially rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, have something to prove. They have done a decent job so far of protecting Jay Cutler, and that must continue Sunday.

What the Chicago Bears must do to win Sunday

Against the Lions in Week 4, quarterback Jay Cutler missed spots when he should have hit them. His poor decision-making led to the three interceptions he had, but ball security must be at a premium in this contest. Cutler can not afford to make the same mistakes against this defense, which ranks sixth in the league and seems to be flourishing in their new 3-4 scheme. He must hit his spots and allow his receivers to make big plays.

Running back Matt Forte, as always, must get the offense going on the ground. Luckily, the Saints rank 22nd in defending the rush, so Forte will be able to wear down the Saints’ defense enough to start seeing holes and taking advantage of them. This being said, the Bears must not play from behind as that can deter the ground game. They must hold the Saints early so Forte can do what he does best — gash defenses for big gains. The o-line of the Bears is constantly improving aside from the setback last week, so look for them to give Forte the boost he needs.

An unlikely statistic — Brees has been sacked 12 times so far this year. That usually is not seen from this team, that ranks 23rd in protecting the pass. Bears offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod, who previously played for the Saints in 2012 before signing with the Bears, could play a huge role in the success of the defense since he knows the Saints playbook from his days there. He may be able to give Julius Peppers some tips on how to beat the New Orleans O-line.

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Adding to the experience is linebacker James Anderson, who saw the Saints twice a year while with the Carolina Panthers. The help and guidance the Bears will get from him either on the practice field leading up to the game or during the game will prove invaluable.

Defensive ends Peppers and Corey Wootton along with those other guys must make Brees uncomfortable, if not sack him on multiple occasions. They must not give him time to dump it off to his many threats, like tight end Jimmy Graham, running back Darren Sproles or wide receiver Marques Colston, among others.

All of these things are key for a Bears’ victory, but the biggest key is simple — home field advantage. The Saints are 0-3 at Soldier Field dating back to 2006, when they lost the NFC Championship game to the Bears, so the crowd must continue to push the Bears on the path to victory. If they rush Brees on defense and pound the ball with Forte, they will come away victorious.