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Game of the Week: Bears at Saints
The Monsters of the Midway are coming off a rewarding 30-12 romp of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. Ignited by the play of Matt Forte (who posted 68 yards rushing, 90 yards receiving and a touchdown), Brian Urlacher (10 tackles, an interception and a fumble return for touchdown) and Jay Cutler (22-for-32, 312 yards, two touchdowns and a 107.8 QB rating), the Bears made it known that their 2010 season was no fluke. The box score may indicate Chicago surrendered an ample amount of yards through the air (Matt Ryan finished with 319 yards on the afternoon), but the Bears prohibited the Dirty Birds from unleashing their explosive offense, yielding short runs and passes in favor of disallowing a long, momentum-turning play. Aside from a Cutler pick-six, Chicago couldn't have asked for a more favorable outcome.
The same cannot be said for the Saints, who came up short in dramatic fashion in an instant classic last Thursday in Lambeau Field, falling to the Packers 42-34. Offensively, the Saints had their way with one of the more intimidating defensive units in the league (save for Mark Ingram's stuff at the goal line as time expired) as Drew Brees tossed for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately for New Orleans, they will be without lead receiver Marques Colston for the next month with a broken collarbone. Add this to the already iffy status of Lance Moore and suddenly the dynamic aerial attack of Sean Payton is surrounded in doubt.
Maybe of more importance for the Saints are questions pertaining to their porous defense. While the Green Bay offense is nothing to scoff at, New Orleans has to seal some gaping holes in the secondary to prevent another fireworks display on the scoreboard. Not helping matters is the continued absence of lineman Will Smith. Without the Pro Bowler's pass rush, Cutler won't be hurried into questionable decisions, possibly correlating into a field day for the Chicago signal caller.
For the Saints, establishing the run game will be paramount. The combo of Ingram and Pierre Thomas was relatively effective against the Packers, but the two will need to be more assertive in short-yardage situations for the Saints to come out on top. Darren Sproles had a solid debut in the passing game for New Orleans, snagging seven receptions for 75 yards, instantly erasing the memory and headache of Reggie Bush. Meanwhile, Chicago will rely heavily on the shoulders of Forte, as the Bears back doubles as the main rusher and receiver for the team. If New Orleans can suppress Forte, it will be a long day for the Chicago faithful.
So who wins this matchup of NFC superpowers? According to WhatIfSports' award-winning simulation engine, the Bears come out on top 51.4 percent of the time by an average score of 20 to 19. For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:
Please note: The Seahawks/Steelers, Bengals/Broncos, Rams/Giants, Chargers/Patriots, Eagles/Falcons, Texans/Dolphins, Raiders/Bills and Cowboys/49ers games were resimulated on 9/15 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 2
|@ New York Jets||89.9||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||84.4||28||Simulate Game|
|@ Denver Broncos||67.1||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Washington Redskins||58.4||26||Simulate Game|
|St. Louis Rams||42.5||19||Boxscore|
|@ New York Giants||57.5||22||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||43.8||22||Boxscore|
|@ New England Patriots||56.2||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Atlanta Falcons||51.9||22||Simulate Game|
|@ New Orleans Saints||48.6||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Indianapolis Colts||47.1||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Miami Dolphins||47.0||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Buffalo Bills||40.1||15||Simulate Game|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||62.1||25||Boxscore|
|@ Minnesota Vikings||37.9||21||Simulate Game|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||37.3||21||Simulate Game|
|Kansas City Chiefs||63.8||24||Boxscore|
|@ Detroit Lions||36.2||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Tennessee Titans||34.2||17||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||77.0||25||Boxscore|
|@ Carolina Panthers||23.0||15||Simulate Game|
Joel Beall is the Assistant Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.