New Orleans Saints: Previewing the team’s Week 8 matchup vs. Bears

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(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Saints Offense vs Bears Defense

For all that has been about the Saints’ lack of offense, they currently rank 7th in points per play, and are averaging 30 points per game.

How could they be doing this with a regressing quarterback? Well, as it turns out, Drew Brees may not be done after all, per Pro Football Focus’ Twitter account:

Although Brees still has the lowest average depth of target in the NFL, his accuracy and anticipation has helped mitigate his lack of arm strength.

It also helps when you get pick apart opposing defenses’ zone coverage, which is what he was able to against the Panthers. The Bears run a lot of two-high quarters coverage sets, and that in theory should cater to the veteran quarterback’s strengths.

Chicago has a top-five defense based on points allowed/play, but if we’ve learned anything, it is that defenses are heavily reliant on the offenses they are playing against. New Orleans might be their greatest test yet, and that’s not the only thing working against them.

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They rank first and second in red-zone touchdown conversion percentage and third-down conversion percentage, respectively, and since those are two unstable aspects of defensive performance, regression could be coming for them.

If the Saints are again without receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas, it could be tricky for them to move the ball against the talented cornerback duo of Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson.

However, Thomas is back at practice, and if he is able to play, that would be a game-changer. In the end, though, the main benefit for Brees is the team’s offensive line and ability to get rid of the ball quickly.

The Bears have built their defense based on their pass rush, and it’s very rare for that to have an effect on a Brees-led offense.

I am highly skeptical that Chicago’s defense is as productive as they have played this year, as they lack depth in the secondary and have built through their pass rush. If Thomas is able to play, look for them to leverage him in the slot against Buster Skrine.

If not, they will still need to exploit the Bears’ middle-of-the-field coverage, whether it is with tight end Jared Cook, running back Alvin Kamara, or even speedster Deonte Harris.