The New England Patriots(10-2) travel to Chicago this week looking to continue their 4 game winning streak against the hometown Bears(9-3).
The Patriots are coming off their biggest victory of the season, a 45-3 home victory against the New York Jets. It was a record breaking night for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady who won his 26th consecutive home game, the most by any starting quarterback in NFL history, but as Brady himself will proclaim “ There are many more big games for [the Patriots], none bigger than Chicago.”
The Chicago Bears struggled last week against the Detroit Lions eventually escaping from the game with a 24-20 victory benefiting from a controversial penalty on rookie Lions defender Ndamakung Suh. Last weeks sluggish performance was preceded by impressive victories against the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. The Bears defense has been the reason for their recent success as it has given up an average of less than 15 points in each of the last 4 games. This makes for an interesting matchup with the Patriots offense who lead the league averaging 31.6 points per game.
Given time, Brady would easily pick apart the Chicago Bears defense, however the difficulty for the Patriots is that the Bears pass rush is relentless. The Bears have only 25 sacks this season which is 15th in the league, but Julius Peppers and Lance Briggs are premier playmakers in the NFL according to Bill Belichick, “[Their] front is very disruptive. They cause a lot of negative plays. They’re hard to block. They move a lot. They’re quick; they’re powerful. It's an impressive group.”
No defense has been able to stop Brady recently. He has scored 14 touchdowns in the past 4 games without an interception. The Bears can only try to contain the Patriots offense and hope that their own offense can take advantage of an inexperienced Patriots defense.
If the New England Patriots offense is predictably immaculate, the Bears offense is equally as predictably inconsistent. The Bears have shot to the top of the talented NFC North with a 9-3 record, but for the most part have relied on their dominant defense.
The Bears offense as a whole has been inconsistent throughout the season but in the past few weeks their quarterback, Jay Cutler, has proven that he has the maturity to go along with his undoubted talent. Since week 8 the Bears are averaging 24 points per game, while Cutler has thrown 10 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions.
Similarly to the Bears defense, the Patriots will hope to put pressure on Jay Cutler by taking advantage of the Bears poor offensive line that has given up a league worst 45 sacks. Cutler has a strong arm and speedy receivers who can take advantage of the hugely inexperienced defense of the Patriots. Expect Cutler to look for wide receiver Johnnie Knox often to try to take advantage of cornerback Kyle Arrington.
The Bears should provide stiff opposition for the Patriots offense which will result in an entertaining game of football.
Key Matchups: Julius Peppers vs Matt Light; Kyle Arrington vs Johnnie Knox.