Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (Source: rookiedraft.com)

AccuScore projects New Orleans Saints as winners over Chicago Bears

AccuScore is a highly trusted system used to project the outcome of NFL games, and even entire seasons, with surprising accuracy. They are recognized as the leader in sport forecasting, and even highly respected Las Vegas handicappers didn’t predict the NFL’s winners in 2010 better than AccuScore.

The Saints (0-1) are hosting the Bears (1-0) tomorrow in a pivotal NFC showdown. New Orleans dropped their opener to Green Bay, while Chicago took it to the Atlanta Falcons in week one. For the Saints it’s a favorable matchup, and AccuScore thinks the same.

The New Orleans Saints are a solid favorite with a 61% chance to beat the Chicago Bears. Pierre Thomas is projected for 42 rushing yards and a 26% chance of having at least 1 rushing TD. In the 39% of simulations where Chicago Bears wins, Jay Cutler averages 1.92 TD passes vs 0.69 interceptions, while in losses he has a ratio of 1.46 TDs to 1.31 interceptions. Matt Forte averages 85 rushing yards and 0.54 rushing TDs when Chicago Bears wins and 53 yards and 0.23 TDs in losses. The New Orleans Saints has a 35% chance of forcing more turnovers than they commit. Positive turnover margin helps them win 87% of the time. SPREADS / TOTALS: Current Point Spread is NO -6.5 — Over/Under line is 47.5

New Orleans will look to exploit the Bears offensive line considering they have a new starting center in Roberto Garza, a rookie right tackle in Gabe Carimi, and a second-year former right tackle turned left tackle in J’Marcus Webb.

Last season Cutler was sacked an NFL-high 52 times — a major reason why Chicago took Carimi with their top pick in this years draft. But the offensive line had a good showing against Atlanta, giving up only two sacks in the game.

Another matachup the Saints will look to exploit is the Bears safeties with the absence of starting strong safety Chris Harris, who is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.

To compensate for Harris’ loss the Bears are sliding starting free safety Major Wright over to strong safety, and back filling his spot with recently acquired ex-Patriot Brandon Meriweather.

Meriweather was released by New England just days before the seasons start. Chicago signed him the very next day and since has given him a crash course in Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2 defense. He is known to go off script and can be a liability in man coverage.

Wright is entering only his second season in the NFL and has virtually no experience playing the strong safety position. He was drafted out the University of Florida in the third round last year where he played free safety all three of his seasons as a Gator.

Sean Payton will likely have several plays dialed up to go deep over the safeties, a trend that should continue until they prove they can match-up with the teams receivers when running vertical routes.

That will leave allot of pressure on middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and linebacker core to cover the underneath throws. Expect tight end Jimmy Graham to have a whale of a game as he is likely to be targeted often throughout the contest.

The Saints offensive line must contend with the Bears pass rush, who notched five sacks and eleven hits on Matt Ryan last week.

Defensive end Julius Peppers and tackle Henry Melton both recorded two sacks each, while defensive tackle Amobi Okoye had one. Peppers also forced a fumble that Brian Urlacher returned 12 yards for a touchdown.

Against the Packers right tackle Zach Strief struggled in pass protection when lined up against outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Luckily, Matthews was moved all over and thus Strief was spared. He did however play much better as the game progressed.

Chicago has likely seen the tape on Strief making him a sure target. Peppers won’t be moved over to his side like Matthews, but the Bears will probably attack the right side of the offensive line most of the game.

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Tags: AccuScore Brandon Meriweather Brian Urlacher Chicago Bears Chris Harris Drew Brees Jimmy Graham Major Wright New Orleans Saints Sean Payton

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