Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints – NFL, Wild Card Weekend (January 10, 2021)
Following one of the closest first-round games on Sunday, we have arguably the least close game (on paper anyway), as the Bears take on the Saints.
The Bears squeezed into the playoffs even though they lost their last game against the Packers, as the Cardinals could not beat the Rams and therefore gifted Chicago the final playoff berth.
The Saints rounded off a fine regular season by beating the Panthers convincingly and winning the NFC South Division.
The two teams faced off in week eight of the regular season, and the Bears pushed the Saints all the way into overtime but came up short, losing 26-23. This means that the Saints have won the last six in a row against the Bears, and they have won four of the five matches played on home soil.
Bears vs. Saints Odds
Although the Saints are rightfully instilled as hot favorites, the 10.5 spread looks a couple of points high for my liking, especially given how close the Bears pushed the Saints earlier on this season.
The Bears ended the season with an even eight wins and eight defeats record and are arguably the weakest side in the competition.
After losing six in a row, they managed to win three games back to back to push them into a playoff spot, and despite losing against the Packers last week, they clung onto this place.
On the road, they were, in fact, better than when playing at home as they managed to win five of their eight road trips, which includes the last two against the Vikings and the Jaguars.
They haven’t done very well against the spread when playing New Orleans as they have only won two of their last seven games and one of the last six in New Orleans.
They have, however, been exciting to watch in recent weeks, which is backed up by the fact that five of their last six games have gone over the betting total. On the road, this trend continues with six of the last nine going over also. However, against the Saints, things have been much more low scoring as four of the last six have gone under the betting total.
The Bears are an honest, hard-working, what you see is what you get kind of team, which in truth doesn’t actually bode too well for them.
Offensively they are only averaging 330 yards per game, which is one of the lowest of the remaining teams in the competition. This has meant that they are averaging just 23 points per game, which is giving their defense an awful lot of work to do.
However, their good work ethic has helped them to grind results out and reduce their opponents to an average yardage gain of just 344 per game, which in anyone’s books is good. This results in them conceding 23 points per game, identical to what they are putting on the board themselves. This means the key to them winning is to make the game as tight as possible.
When you look at the Bears, you see an average team, which if you have an off day, they are likely to punish, but they aren’t going to blow anyone away.
However, that said, running back David Montgomery has been a shining light for them as he has amassed over 1000 rushing yards this season, the fifth-highest in the league. With his touchdown against the Packers last time out, he made it four matches in a row to score a touchdown, making it a total of seven in those games.
Unlike the Saints, the Bears come out of week 17 unscathed and with no new injury concerns.
The Saints finished the regular season with a 12-4 record on their way to claiming the NFC South Divisional title. However, two of those defeats came in the last four games of the season, which will slightly alarm the Saints fans.
At the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, they have a very good record of six wins and two defeats. Those two defeats came against both the NFC and AFC’s leading teams, the Chiefs and the Packers.
They will also be looking to avoid a third straight post-season defeat.
They have done very well against the spread this season and have won seven of their last nine fixtures.
Their games have been relatively low scoring as of late, with 66% of the last nine going under the betting total. However, this hasn’t been the case at home, with six of the last eight games going over the betting total.
If there was one area that the Saints could improve upon, you would say it would be increasing the number of passing yards they gain per week, which currently stands at 234 yards. This is an odd statistic, given they have the highest passing success rate in the league.
With that said, they have a good rushing attack and still average 30 points per game, the fifth-highest in the league.
You could say that they could also improve upon the number of forced fumbles made as they currently have the third-lowest count in the NFL.
Defensively they are very strong, only allowing just over 310 yards per game and less than 100 rushing yards each week. A big factor in reducing their opponents to these low numbers is the number of tackles the Saints have made, which is the second-highest this year. They concede an average of just 21 points per game, which taking into account their average points scored per game, would see them just fall short of covering the handicap here.
They also have the joint highest number of interceptions and the second-lowest passing success rate against them in the league this season.
Defensive end Trey Hendrickson is having a breakout year for the Saints as he has amassed the third-highest number of sacks in the league.
Looking at the team news for the Saints, the early indications aren’t great, however, Michael Thomas, who has been missing for the last three weeks, could return to boost things. They could miss Alvin Kamara, who tested positive for Covid-19, as well as Murray, Washington, and Burton, who have all come into close contact with Kamara.
Bears vs. Saints Betting Pick
Over 48 Points-110
After breaking the game down, you would have to say that the bookmakers have got the spread spot on, and this could literally go a point on either side of that. It could come down to whether or not the Saints have a fully healthy squad or not. I think the Bears will be encouraged by this news and will look to make an impact early on, which could make for an open game. I will therefore opt for over the betting total