A week after getting torched by one future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Chicago Bears take on another elite passer destined for a gold jacket when they visit Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card Round on Sunday.
The Bears defense is fresh off a Week 17 waxing at the hands of Aaron Rodgers, which plays into the NFL odds for this contest. The Saints are 10-point NFL betting favorites in the Superdome, where they’ve failed to cover in their last four home postseason contests.
These are our NFL free picks and predictions for Bears vs. Saints on January 10.
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints Betting Preview
This game will be played indoors at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions for other Wild Card Round games with our NFL weather info.
Bears: Buster Skrine CB (Out), Jaylon Johnson CB (Out), Darnell Mooney WR (Out), Roquan Smith LB (Out).
Saints: Nick Easton C (Out), Trey Hendrickson DE (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting Trend to Know
The Over is 6-2 in the Saints’ last eight home games. Find more NFL betting trends for Bears vs. Saints.
Against the Spread (ATS) Pick
The Saints’ skeleton crew didn’t skip a beat in the season finale, blasting Carolina 33-7 despite a COVID-depleted rushing corps. New Orleans flexed its defensive muscles just in time for the postseason after three weeks of uninspired efforts from a stop unit ranked No. 2 in defensive DVOA at Football Outsiders.
The defense gets a second whack at the Bears after edging Chicago 26-23 in overtime on the road back in Week 8. However, this Bears offense is a much different beast than that one faced in early November. For one, Nick Foles has been bumped from under center by Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago scoring attack has averaged just over 30 points in the six games since making that switch.
Trubisky has been steady but the real catalyst for Chicago is the rushing game. The Bears running attack was non-existent until Week 12, when some shuffling on the offensive line and the emergence of RB David Montgomery finally gave this playbook an identity. The big problem now is the Saints’ elite run stop unit, which held foes to only 3.9 yards per carry and less than 94 rushing yards per game on the season.
New Orleans will unplug the Bears’ rushing plans and force the game on Trubisky’s uncertain shoulder. And should the Saints offense – which could have RB Alvin Kamara and maybe even star WR Michael Thomas back – get ahead early, the pressure on Trubisky will be too much for even the most loyal Chicago fan to trust.
This spread has climbed from as low as Saints -9 and is starting to tick upwards of -10.5 at some sportsbooks. Get NOLA as low as you can to avoid that nasty half-point hook.
PREDICTION: New Orleans -10 (-110)
Since getting Brees back from his horrendous chest/rib/lung injury, the New Orleans offense has been humming. The Saints have stacked up 114 total points the past three games and that was without some of the best offensive weapons in the league on the field.
The Bears’ once-vaunted defense has softened in the second half of the schedule. Chicago has allowed 26.8 points per game since its bye in Week 11, including 35 points on just 316 total yards from Green Bay last weekend—a boggling nine yards per point.
If the Saints offense is at full strength, it’s a five-star Suduko for Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano: pressure Brees, the run will chew you up. Take away the run, Brees will pick you apart. The Bears haven’t been overly great at stopping either of those aspects and outside of a seven-sack day versus Houston’s turnstile offensive line, the Chicago pass rush is no longer a game-changer.
Brees was sacked only once and hurried twice in the win over the Bears in Week 8 and has been sacked just three times since returning under center. Much like Rodgers last Sunday, if the old vet is given time in the pocket and doesn’t have to worry about pressure, he’s going to make a fool of Chicago.
To make matters worse, the Bears secondary still has key components banged up heading into Wild Card Weekend—something that Rodgers exploited over and over in Week 17. To combat these defensive gaps, the Bears will need to roll the dice when it comes to scoring opportunities: more fourth-down tries and going for broke instead of settling for field goals.
PREDICTION: Over 47 (-110)
Player Prop Pick
New Orleans WR Emmanuel Sanders collected a tasty payday ($500,000) thanks to nine receptions in the Week 17 finale versus the Panthers.
Those catches bumped Sanders over 60 receptions on the year, activating his half-million bonus. It was a nice gesture in a blowout win but it was also an anomaly for Sanders based on his recent production. The nine grabs on 13 targets was his busiest day since Week 5 with the 5-foot-11 speedster totaling just eight catches in the two games prior and averaging 4.3 receptions per contest on the year.
The status and workload for Michael Thomas is a mystery as of Tuesday afternoon (Editor's Note: Thomas has since been activated for Sunday's game), leaving Sanders as a No. 1A option at receiver. And while the Bears secondary is dinged up, this team ranked No. 2 in defensive DVOA versus No. 1 receivers this season.
Brees won’t be pressing to find Sanders in the Wild Card Round and we expect his catches to fall Under his receptions total on Sunday.
PREDICTION: Emmanuel Sanders Under 3.5 receptions (-109)
Bears vs Saints Betting Card
- New Orleans -10 (-110)
- Over 47 (-110)
- Emmanuel Sanders Under 3.5 receptions (-109)
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