FILE – In this Aug. 27, 2010, file photo, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. After all his teammates leave the field, Drew Brees often runs extra sprints alone. It’s not that he’s out of shape. The Saints’ quarterback just knows how hard it will be to win another Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
- The New Orleans Saints (12-4) are 10-point favorites vs the Chicago Bears (8-8) in an NFC Wild Card game Sunday at the Superdome in New Orleans
- Betting Record: 6-10-1, -4.20 Units
- The odds, lines, and spreads for Bears-Saints can be found below along with analysis of the game
The New Orleans Saints are home to play the Chicago Bears Sunday (4:25 pm, EST) in what is projected to be the most one-sided game of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs.
New Orleans, a 10-point favorite, is the biggest favorite among the six scheduled games.
The Saints are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the postseason, while the Bears are making only their second playoff appearance in the past 10 years. The Bears lost their final regular-season game, but qualified for the playoffs because Arizona lost.
Bears vs Saints Odds
|Chicago Bears||+390||+10 (-112)||O 47 (-112)|
|New Orleans Saints||-480||-10 (-109)||U 47 (-109)|
Odds taken Jan. 9 from DraftKings
Playoffs May be the Brees Farewell Tour
Brees turns 42 on Jan. 15 and ESPN has reported that he will retire to become an analyst for NBC Sports.
He is still playing at an elite level. But the 11 fractured ribs and concussion he suffered this season had to remind him that he can’t play forever.
While Brees hasn’t nothing left to prove, he is a prideful athlete. If he is leaving the game, he is going to want a memorable postseason run. The expectation is that Brees will play with an extra layer of motivation in these playoffs. That is bad news for the Bears.
Highest career playoff grades among this year’s playoff QBs:
1. Aaron Rodgers – 90.2
2. Russell Wilson – 84.5
3. Patrick Mahomes – 83.9
4. Drew Brees – 81.9 pic.twitter.com/xxiHiw1hh2
— PFF (@PFF) January 6, 2021
Bears Have One Hope
Chicago quarterback Mitch Trubisky isn’t likely to outplay Brees in a passing competition. The Bears’ hope for an upset rests on their ability to run the football.
The ground game was key to their late-season turn-around. In the team’s last six games, David Montgomery rushed for 588 yards. Only Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor rushed for more yards in that span. Included in that surge were three games in which Montgomery rushed for more than 100 yards. The Bears, now with a healthy, effective offensive line, will test the New Orleans front four and linebackers.
There were only four running backs with at least 1,500 scrimmage yards in the 2020 season: #Titans Derrick Henry (2,141), #Vikings Dalvin Cook (1,918), #Saints Alvin Kamara (1,688), and #Bears David Montgomery (1,508).
— Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. (@wiltfongjr) January 8, 2021
When the Bears run effectively, Trubisky is more dangerous. He posted a 105.0 passer rating on play-action passes. That is significant because the Saints gave up 11 touchdowns on play-action passes this season
Saints Lose Sack Artist
New Orleans defensive end Trey Hendrickson (neck) and guard Nick Easton (concussion) have already been ruled out for Sunday. Hendrickson has had limited practice time in recent weeks because of the injury and then suffered a setback this week.
His absence is noteworthy for the NFL’s No. 4 defense because Hendrickson was tied for second in the league with 13.5 sacks. However, one of the Saints’ strengths is depth on the defensive line. Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport are experienced starters and Carl Granderson has added a spark in recent weeks.
I’ll leave this here:
Roquan Smith — 139 total tackles, 18 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 INT.
Your 2020 All-Pro’s:
Fred Warner — 125 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 INT.
Darious Leonard — 132 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 sacks, 0 INT.
Bobby Wagner — 138 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 sacks, 0 INT.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) January 8, 2021
The good news for New Orleans is that Alvin Kamara (COVID-19 list), Michael Thomas (ankle) and wide receive-kick returner Deonte Harris (neck) are tracking toward being cleared to play. Kamara, who tested positive for COVID on Jan. 1, has been following practice virtually this week.
On the Bears side, defensive back Buster Skrine (concussion) won’t play. Linebacker Roquan Smith (elbow), receiver Darnell Mooney (ankle) and cornerback Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) are questionable.
Signs Point to Lopsided Game
For the Saints, it was business as usual this season as they registered 11 or more wins for the fourth consecutive season. They overcame injuries to Brees and Thomas. This is a team that understands how to cope with all measures of adversity. The Saints defense was consistently strong.
The Bears, meanwhile, have been anything but consistent. They won five out of six at one point, and then lost six in a row. They only recorded one win this season against a playoff team.
This looks like a blowout, especially if Smith can’t play.
Pick: Saints -10 (-109)
Kevin Allen has covered most major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final. He covered the NHL for USA Today from 1986-2020, receiving the Lester Patrick Award in 2013 and was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014 with the Elmer Ferguson Award.