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Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints: Behind enemy lines

The Saints are hosting the Chicago Bears in a week two match up that could be a prelude to the 2011 play-offs. New Orleans dropped their opener to Green Bay by the slimmest of margins, nearly coming back for the win after surrendering 21 points in the first quarter.

Meanwhile the Bears dispatched the the Saints NFC South foe Atlanta Falcons, terrorizing quarterback Matt Ryan by sacking him five times in the lopsided 30-12 victory.

New Orleans needs a win not only to keep pace in the ultra-competitive NFC, but the win/loss could have repercussions later in the season when determining the next NFC South champion.

Getting “behind enemy lines” we exchanged questions with Mike Burzawa, the editor of FanSided’s Chicago Bears site beargoggleson.com, to ask him some questions about the upcoming game and the team that he covers.

Mike had a few questions of his own for WDD, check them out at this link.

1) Roy Williams and Marion Barber have been injured. Do you expect them to play against the Saints, and if so do you seem them contributing big to the offense? Given the un-timely death of Brian Urlacher’s mother, do you expect him to still suit up Sunday?

I don’t expect to see Barber, as he took a step back in practice this week.  Williams is questionable and I doubt he’ll play as well.  If Williams can’t go, expect Johnny Knox to step into his spot while Kahlil Bell will spell Matt Forte at the running back spot.  Urlacher is good to go and should play an inspired game, though it will be tough to top the Week 1 performance which earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

2) The Bears seemed to have their way with the Falcons and Matt Ryan (Thanks!). Do you believe the Bears defense will have similar success against the Saints offense, or do you feel it will be much tougher to stop Brees and company down the stretch?

It all starts up front with the Bears defense.  If they can get pressure with their front four, it really makes the Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 defense work.  Brees has seen the Bears enough to know where the holes in the defense are, so it will depend on execution and limiting big plays. 

3) What is the biggest match up that scares you about the game against the Saints? Which match up most favors the Bears?

As much as Drew Brees and the Saints offense scares me, Gregg Williams’ defense is the toughest match up.  I expect the crowd noise in a raucous Superdome to make it tough on the Bears offensive line and especially their inexperienced tackles J’Marcus Webb and rookie Gabe Carimi.  The exotic blitzes can confuse the line and give Saints defenders some clear looks at Cutler.

 With high risk comes high reward.  If Jay Cutler can find his hot receivers, there will be opportunities for some big plays.  Last week short screen passes to Matt Forte and Devin Hester went for big gains. 

4) How hard was it to lose center Olin Kreutz this off-season? Do you feel that Roberto Garza is an upgrade to Kreutz or not? Do you think Kreutz will feel like he has something to prove Sunday?

The Kreutz situation is tough.  Losing Olin was really tough for a lot of die hard fans.  He was clearly the leader in the locker room and helped set the tone for the Bears.  When he turned down the Bear’s $4 million contract offer once the lockout ended a lot of people were surprised.  It’s clear that he’s on the downside of his career but maybe a change of scenery will be good for both him and the Bears.  Garza has stepped up and filled in well in Week 1, drawing high praise from offensive line coach Mike Tice.  I think Kreutz will feel like he still has something to prove, but I’m not sure if he can play at that level any more. 

5) The Bears defense is famous for running the Tampa 2, but both Drew Brees and Sean Payton have become masters at beating this style defense. Do you expect the Bears to change the game plan at all and/or commit more personnel to the blitz?

I expect the Bears to stick with their Cover-2 a majority of the time.  They will give Brees what he wants underneath and try to limit big plays downfield.  It could get interesting on Sunday because starting SS Chris Harris is doubtful to play with a hamstring.  That moves newcomer Brandon Meriweather to free safety and 2nd year man Major Wright over to strong.  Meriweather is known to freelance at times, so it could open some holes in a defense that calls for discipline.  Look for Brees to try to test the safeties.

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Tags: 2011 NFL Regular Season AccuScore Brandon Meriweather Brian Urlacher Chicago Bears Chris Harris Chris Ivory Darren Sproles Drew Brees Green Bay Packers Jimmy Graham Joique Bell Julius Jones Major Wright Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints Pierre Thomas Sean Payton Zach Strief

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