Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The Bears held a Wednesday walkthrough after playing Sunday Night Football in Week 8.
- On Wednesday, Justin Fields remained a ‘DNP’ on the team’s projected injury report.
- The Saints are relatively healthy at the moment, with just LB Ty Summers and WR Lynn Bowden Jr listed as ‘DNP’ Wednesday, neither of whom are starters.
- Chicago somewhat confusingly dealt a second-round pick to the Commanders for DE Montez Sweat at the trade deadline Tuesday.
- Both teams averaged a middling 21.4 points per game this year.
How chicago Will Try To Win ::
The Bears have to be playing for the future at this point, particularly considering they currently have a greater than 50 percent chance to have two of the top five picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. That makes the recent trade with the Commanders for DE Montez Sweat that much more confusing, made even more head-scratching by the post-trade reports that the Bears didn’t have a solid plan in place to extend the elite pass rusher after his contract expires at the end of the 2023 season. Either way, Chicago currently sits at a 2-6 record, one game ahead of the NFL-worst Cardinals and 0.5 games ahead of the Panthers (Chicago owns Carolina’s 2024 first). As for how this team is built this year, things haven’t been as terrible as their record would leave you to believe. Matt Eberflus took over defensive play-calling this offseason and has this team performing extremely well against the run. If I told you that the Bears currently lead the league in yards allowed per rush and have surrendered just four rushing scores all season, you’d likely call me a liar (before checking for yourself and getting owned). They have, however, been absolutely gashed through the air to the tune of a 6.9 net yards per pass attempt value (third worst) and the second most touchdowns allowed, likely hamstrung by an inability to generate pressure in the backfield (second lowest pressure rate this season at 16.6 percent, ahead of only the Broncos – and that comes with a slightly above average 24.5 percent blitz rate). From a top-level offensive perspective, the Bears play with modest pace (19th-ranked 28.7 seconds per play) with extreme rush rates (third highest rush rate over expectation.
Poor offensive efficiency has held the Bears to 62.9 plays per game, which has, in turn, kept their rushes per game to 29.1. A season after leading the league with 5.4 yards per rush attempt, the Bears rank fifth at 4.6 behind an offensive line blocking to 1.57 yards before contact, third best in the league. Rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent has just seven carries through two starts, leaving a larger share of the rush attempts to the backfield compared to starts with Justin Fields under center. Even so, the return to the lineup of rookie running back Roschon Johnson forced a three-way split in the backfield in Week 8, reducing D’Onta Foreman’s snap rate to just 32 percent. Veteran journeyman Darrynton Evans has seen between 27 and 48 percent snap rates since Kahlil Herbert was placed on injured reserve. The matchup on the ground is far from ideal against a New Orleans defense holding opponents to 1.19 yards before contact, 4.3 yards per carry, and just four rushing scores through the first half of the season.
The Bears have utilized 12 personnel at a slightly above-average 29 percent since Herbert went down with an injury in Week 5, with Cole Kmet playing a near-every-down role and Robert Tonyan mixing in with Marcedes Lewis in a shared role. DJ Moore and Darnell Mooney operate as near-every-down wide receivers, with rookie Tyler Scott stepping into a standard slot snap rate of around 60 percent during the most recent three-game stretch. The Bears average 30.3 pass attempts per game on the season, 28th in the league, which has increased slightly with Bagent under center to 33.0 over the previous two games. The Saints run man coverage at the fourth highest rate in the league (32.7 percent), against which only Moore and Kmet have an above-average receiving grade. Moore leads the team with a 20.3 percent targets per route run rate against man – not exactly elite, but not terrible at the same time.