The New Orleans Saints will host the Chicago Bears this weekend in a game with major postseason implications.
It is only Week 2, but both teams are playing in stacked divisions and every conference game is basically a must-win scenario.
The Saints opened the year against the defending champion Green Bay Packers, but came up short in the end. They played well enough at times to win the game though, and they'll be in the hunt for the NFC South and/or wild-card positions.
The Bears opened at home against Atlanta and promptly beat the snot out of the defending No. 1 seed in the NFC. Chicago is always a tough test at Solider Field, but they'll have to bring the same intensity and efficiency (Jay Cutler...) if they want to beat the Saints in the Superdome.
This Week 2 matchup should have the feel of a postseason game.
Where: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana.
When: Sunday, September 18. 1 P.M. EST.
Watch: FOX, DirecTV 715
Over/Under: 47.5 points
The Bears are notoriously bad (5-15 in last three years) at covering the O/U as an underdog. The Saints, meanwhile, are just about .500 as a favorite. The two teams combined for 64 points in their openers though, and there is a chance Brian Urlacher doesn't play due to a family emergency. It will be close, but I like the over.
Spread: Saints -6.5
Keep your eyes on this line as the game gets closer. If it moves another half-point to seven, it definitely turns in favor of the Bears.
Bears' Key Injuries
Roy Williams, WR: The veteran wideout was held out of practice Wednesday with a groin issue. He's listed as questionable.
Brian Urlacher, MLB: Family emergency. Status for game is questionable.
Saints' Key Injuries
Marques Colston, WR: The No. 1 wideout is out until at least Week 6.
Lance Moore, WR: Moore was limited in practice again with a groin issue. He's listed as questionable.
Fantasy Big Plays
Start 'Em: Robert Meachem, WR, Saints
With Colston out and Moore still questionable, someone has to catch the ball from Drew Brees. Meachem has big play ability and will see increased targets as the season progresses.
Sit' Em: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
Until we see more from the rookie running back, he should stay on the bench. The Bears were also the No. 2 defense in the league against the run last year.
Keys to Game for Bears
Protect Jay Cutler: The Falcons sacked Cutler four times and hit him six times overall. This was a problem for the Bears last season and has to be fixed this year. The Saints have an improved pass rush and the Bears cannot afford to have Cutler start throwing bad balls with pressure in his face.
Disrupt Drew Brees: Chicago found a way to sack Matt Ryan five times last week. The Falcons never got on track and the Bears round that momentum for the entirety of the game. They must do the same with Brees or he will light their secondary up.
Keys to Game for Saints
Establish a run game: Any bit of a run game will go a long way towards keeping Chicago honest. Their secondary isn't talented enough to handle Brees in rhythm, and if the Bears are forced to respect the run it will make things even easier for the All-Pro quarterback.
Pressure, Pressure, Pressure: This defense, and secondary in particular, thrives on opportunities. If the Saints can put pressure on Cutler and force him to make bad throws, the cornerbacks and safeties will take advantage immediately.
Prediction: Saints 27, Bears 20