Friday, December 10, 2010

Bears face stiffest test yet against 10-2 Pats

Did you see that Monday night game? Holy sh-t. I guess the good news for the Bears is that the Patriots can't do that two games in a row, right? Right??

Here's more good news: The Patriots are coming off a short week. They're also coming off a game they had undoubtedly been looking forward to ever since Week 2 (when they lost to the Jets). And because of their huge win on Monday, this game now means more for the Bears than the Patriots.

So there's some good news. Here's the bad: The Patriots are really, really good. They've averaged 39.5 points over their last four games. Their defense had been struggling--they've allowed the 14th most points per game in the NFL--but then they suddenly stifled Sanchez and the Jets as if they had 15 guys on the field at all times. Brady leads the NFL in passer rating AND they have an above average running game.

In short, this one won't be easy. On the bright side, the Bears were actually bigger underdogs against the Eagles two weeks ago than they are against the Patriots. Few people thought they could stop Michael Vick and their cast of Pro Bowlers either, but they did. Here's how the Bears can win their sixth straight:


Keep the Patriots offense off the field. It's the best way to stop any prolific offense: keep them on the sideline. To do that, you need to eat up clock, and to do that, you need to run the ball. Forte's been better of late, and the Patriots allow 114 rushing yards per game (compare that to the Bears, who allow just 84). In New England's two losses, they allowed an average of 183 rushing yards.

Win the turnover battle. Obvious, I know, but this has been a huge key to New England's success: their +14 turnover ratio is second only to the Eagles. Brady has thrown just four picks all year, two of them in their first loss of the season.

Tackle. The running backs, of course, but more so the receivers. The Patriots make a living off of yards after catch (YAC), which is something the Bears have been doing in recent games as well. Without Moss as a deep threat, Brady throws a lot of short passes to guys like Wes Welker and Deion Branch--get them to the ground quickly and you can contain this offense.

Get excited, folks. This could be one hell of a statement game for the Bears.

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