Prior to every Bears game this season, we ask a panel of experts one question to test their clairvoyant powers. The panel consists of ChicagoBears.com writers Larry Mayer and Nathan Smith; former Bears players Alex Brown, Patrick Mannelly and Jim Miller; and one guest celebrity.
This week's question is: How many points will the Bears score in Sunday's Super Wild Card game against the New Orleans Saints? The Bears ranked 22nd in the NFL in scoring this season, averaging 23.2 points per game.
Our guest celebrity this week is NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales, who knows a thing or two about putting points on the board—at least on the basketball court. Dales was a WNBA all-star, Canadian Olympian and the Big 12 Player of the Year when she attended Oklahoma.
Larry Mayer, ChicagoBears.com
Prediction: The Bears will score 24 points against the Saints.
Comment: Anthony Miller led the Bears in receiving with eight catches for 73 yards in their first meeting with the Saints, and after a quiet second half of the season, I wouldn't be surprised if Miller is a factor in Sunday's game and even gets into the end zone for the first time since Week 3 in Atlanta.
Nathan Smith, ChicagoBears.com
Prediction: The Bears will score 30 points against the Saints.
Comment: The Bears moved the ball in Week 8, their first meeting with the Saints this year. The offense is better now and should be less conservative than it was last week against the Packers.
Alex Brown, former Bears defensive end
Prediction: The Bears will score 17 points against the Saints.
Comment: Throughout the season, the Bears have struggled to score points on top defenses, and this week's it's critical that they do because of the question marks on the Bears defense. The Saints have proven to have a top-notch defense all season long and I don't think the Bears will produce enough big plays in this one.
Patrick Mannelly, former Bears long-snapper
Prediction: The Bears will score 23 points against the Saints.
Comment: The Saints are a very good defense and the Bears offense will need to be efficient and stay on schedule to score points.
Jim Miller, former Bears quarterback
Prediction: The Bears will score 21 points against the Saints.
Comment: The Bears will score 21 points, which is the average New Orleans gives up per game and close to the 23 points the Bears scored in a matchup earlier this season with the Saints. The Bears need to be better in the red zone and cannot settle for field goals.
Guest celebrity: Stacey Dales, NFL Network
Prediction: The Bears will score 28 points against the Saints.
Comment: The Bears are facing the Saints' outstanding No. 5-ranked scoring defense but feature a more mobile quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky, with Trubisky executing play-action on drop-backs at a rate of an NFL-high 35 percent. The Saints have allowed 11 TDs on play-action this season. The Bears' primary emphasis this week is scoring points in the red zone, where the Saints defense ranks 29th. It should be a fun Drew Brees-Trubisky duel in New Orleans!
Recap of last week: Roquan Smith recorded three tackles before exiting last Sunday's loss to the Packers late in the first quarter with an elbow injury. ChicagoBears.com writer Larry Mayer and former Bears long-snapper Patrick Mannelly came the closest among our panel, predicting that Smith would compile 10 tackles in the regular-season finale at Soldier Field.
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