1. Jerod Mayo v. Jay Cutler. Cutler's improved play is really the reason for the offensive improvement since the bye week and I expect him to only be better against the Patriots. The Pats are ranked 31st against the pass and i think we may see the bears call more deep routes this game than the last 4 combined. But, I have the suspicion that Mayo, the Pats best LB, may be doing some spying/shadowing of Jay Culter given Jay's nimble feet of late. Mayo is really the one that drives the Pats defense and if Cutler can recognize what he where is on the field, it can negate his impact and make the Pats defense look pedestrian.
2. Urlacher v. Pats TEs. The Pats have two excellent rookie TEs in Hernandez and Gronkowski and the majority of their plays will involve both TEs. They love to run vertical down the seam and have the speed and hands to do so. Brady will spread the ball around but he definitely look to these guys for big plays down the center of the field. I suspect the bears will be playing a whole lot of cover 2 so Urlacher will have to get a good drop down the middle of the field in order to be in position to break up pass to these TEs.
3. Patriots v. Soldier Field turf. Hey, so the turf is crappy but what do I can when it neutralizes the opponents speed? It certainly worked against the eagles, maybe the fastest NFL team. And now we can hope it hurts the Patriots. Their offense is based around YAC or run after the catch so heres hoping on sunday its just falling after the catch.
Keys for the Bears
1. Tackling. Unfortunately this is probable the worst matchup for the bears defense in the NFL. The Pats are a patient, short passing team which absolutely kills cover 2 defenses. Maybe we will see some more blitzes and man 2 man from the bears but I heavily doubt it. So, in order for the bear's cover 2 to beat brady & co., they must tackle extremely well as the Pats are all about YAC, as stated above. The first guy must stop the ball carrier or at least slow him down.
2. DT pressure. Tom Brady is awesome in the pocket. He isnt very mobile but he slides/moves extremely well in the pocket. This allows him to side step a lot of pressure and step up on any pressure from the outsides. If the DTs can get pressure up the middle then Brady has no where to step up and we could see him take some sacks and it disrupt their passing game.
3. Big plays keep coming. The offense has been great the last couple weeks but not exactly what we expected from them. It has been consistently driving the ball and every once a while a big play will pop. But from the Martz offense, I was expecting a lot more big plays and quick scoring. I think this game will be higher scoring than most because the problems the Pats will present for our defense. With that said and the Pats D not having much of a pass rush, i think its time to start going deep early and often. Yep, this could turn into a disaster of inceptions and turnovers but this offense needs to show that it has that capability in order to be a playoff threat and probably to win this game.
Hero of the Day
Jay Cutler. Its the first time this year I have chosen Jay to have a big game. This probably as big of game in his career that he has played and he really needs to come out and show that he can perform against a good team. I think either he goes off for 3 or 4 tds and probably a int or he throws a real stinker and we start wondering if he can handle the big games/stage.
I really want to take the bears. I know im that big of a homer but I just cant bring myself to do it. I wanted to take the Bears 31 to 27 on a last second season defining TD drive by Culter. But, i just cant. I think it will be a close game but Brady in the 4th quarter will hurt the bears and they will fall. Pats 27, Bears 24.