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NFL Betting: Saints-Bears Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 10/2/2013 6:05:02 PM

The New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears enter the month of October as two of the three teams in particularly good position for a shot at a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the divisional playoff round. An important tiebreaker game awaits these two clubs, who are already fighting with the Seattle Seahawks for a chance to earn a smoother, shorter path to Super Bowl XLVIII in New York. In the final days of December, both the Saints and the Bears will want to have this game in their hip pocket.

New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears

Odds: Bears -1

Total: 47.5

The New Orleans Saints could not have endured more adversity, on and off the field, than what they faced in the 2012 season. The BountyGate scandal created a number of player suspensions and hurt the team’s defense, but the Saints also lost their general manager for much of the season and their Super Bowl-winning head coach, Sean Payton, for the entire season. The team was coached by two interim leaders. The bitterness flowing from the larger collection of events certainly stunned the fan base and left the members of the team’s offense feeling isolated and hurt. There was simply no way for the Saints to overcome everything that was thrown their way last season, so when players, coaches and executives all returned to their posts for the 2013 offseason, the logical expectation was for the Saints to regain much of what they had lost.

That inclination has proved to be true to this point in the season. The Saints are at the top of their division. Their defense, which was such a noticeable problem last year, has gained reinforcements while avoiding the suspensions that ruined the 2012 campaign. Payton is back at head coach, which has given the Saints so much more belief and cohesion on and off the field. The locker room is united and the practice field is a place of harmony. It’s not surprising the Saints are a Super Bowl contender once again.

Chicago certainly has a chance to be a Super Bowl contender as well. The early returns from head coach Marc Trestman’s first season in the Windy City have been quietly encouraging. Chicago was not clean or overpowering in its first two wins of the season, against Cincinnati and Minnesota. The Bears have been inconsistent to this point, and they almost blew a big lead against Pittsburgh in week three after controlling the first half. Yet, the Bears do lead the Green Bay Packers and are therefore in good shape, better than some pundits might have expected.

This game will come down to the ability of the Bears’ offense to put the Saints’ defense on its heels. Chicago is a good team right now. It will be a great team if it can get the maximum out of quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Alshon Jeffery. The Bears’ defense is aging but experienced. The offense needs to carry more of the load.

Prediction

In what should be a very close game, the Bears will make a few mistakes and put Drew Brees in the driver’s seat in the fourth quarter. New Orleans will find a way to win on the road.

Pick: Saints

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