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Chalk Talk


Chalk Talk: What's key for Bears to beat Saints?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on

What's the most important thing for the Bears to do to beat the Saints?
Brian K.

I'll give you one key on each side of the ball. On offense, the Bears must score touchdowns and not settle for field goals on their red-zone possessions. They did a good job of that during their three-game winning streak, but their inability to get into the end zone against the Packers (one touchdown on five drives inside-the-20) was a key factor in their loss. I think Sunday's Wild Card game could be fairly high-scoring, so the Bears are going to have to get in the end zone. Defensively, the Bears must generate consistent pressure on quarterback Drew Brees. They absolutely have to not only record a few sacks, but also make him uncomfortable in the pocket and force him into committing a couple turnovers. They can't just let him sit back there and allow him to distribute the ball to the array of explosive weapons on the Saints offense. Both running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Michael Thomas are expected to return for the game, which should provide New Orleans with a huge boost.

Who is an under-the-radar player who could have a big game Sunday?
Jack G.
Evanston, Illinois

When I consider your question, the first player who keeps popping into my mind is receiver Anthony Miller. He had a fairly quiet final four games, but he did record 49 receptions for 485 yards this year and had one of his best performances against the Saints. In a Week 8 overtime loss to New Orleans at Soldier Field, he caught a season-high eight passes for 73 yards. Miller's role could expand if fellow receiver Darnell Mooney is unable to play—he's listed as questionable after missing practice all week with an ankle injury—but whether Mooney plays or not, I think Miller could have a big game.

When was the last time the Bears played a playoff game on the road?
Gene L.
Rockford, Illinois

Sunday's Wild Card game in New Orleans will be the first road playoff contest for the Bears since Jan. 7, 1995 when they lost a divisional contest to the eventual Super Bowl champion 49ers 44-15 in San Francisco. That game came a week after the Bears upset the Vikings 35-18 in Minnesota in the first round. This year is also the first time the Bears made the playoffs as a wild card since that 1994 season. Their last five appearances in the postseason have been as a division champion: in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2018. In those five years, they played eight playoff games: seven at Soldier Field plus Super Bowl XLI at a neutral site in Miami.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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