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The Week Ahead: Bears prep to host Saints

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After a day off Tuesday, the Bears return to the practice field Wednesday to continue preparing for Sunday's game against the Saints at Soldier Field.

Back in action after their bye week, the Bears (3-2) will look to rebound from a 24-21 loss to the Raiders Oct. 6 in London. In Matt Nagy's two seasons as coach, the team is 4-1 in games immediately following a loss, including 1-0 this year.

The Bears enter Week 7 in third place in the NFC North, trailing the Packers (5-1) and Vikings (4-2) and ahead of the Lions (2-2-1).

The Saints (5-1) are in first place in the NFC South. Relying on a mistake-free offense and dominant play on defense and special teams, New Orleans is 4-0 since losing star quarterback Drew Brees with a thumb injury.

With Brees sidelined, replacement Teddy Bridgewater has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,089 yards with seven touchdowns, two interceptions and a 98.4 passer rating that ranks 10th in the NFL.

Storyline of the week
After spending the bye week self-scouting and recharging their batteries, the Bears will look to jump-start an offense that has failed to perform as expected, especially on the ground. In the last two games, the Bears have rushed for 114 yards on 50 carries, a 2.3-yard average, with a long run of seven yards.

Injuries to monitor
The Bears will have to overcome the loss of one key player on both sides of the ball, with right guard Kyle Long (hip) and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (elbow) being placed on injured reserve this week.

There has been good news on the injury front, however, as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, receiver Taylor Gabriel, guard Ted Larsen and defensive end Bilal Nichols all returned to practice Monday after being sidelined.

Series history
The Bears have dropped the last four matchups to the Saints, tying the all-time series between the teams 15-15.

The Bears lost the last meeting 20-12 on Oct. 29, 2017 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Bears compiled 307 yards and converted 8-of-17 third-down opportunities, but they mustered just one touchdown—Tarik Cohen's 1-yard run that closed the gap to 17-12 with 3:58 left in the game.

Numbers game
The Bears enter Week 7 ranked 30th on offense in the NFL (26th rushing and 30th passing) and 6th on defense (5th against the run and 10th versus the pass). The Saints rank 22nd on offense (19th rushing and 15th passing) and 10th on defense (14th against the run and 11th versus the pass).

Talk show
Nagy will address the media Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Trubisky will speak Wednesday, while offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor will conduct press conferences Thursday.

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