On our video preview of the Bears-Saints game, my Sun-Times colleague Centre Arkush challenged me to find several ‘‘piece of analysis’’ that would portend to a Bears victory. There was not enough time in the video to listing each and every facet of this game that might portend to a Bears victory. Here’s a closer look at why the Bears, coming off a nasty 40-32 loss to the Lions, can beat the Saints, who are arriving off back-to-back lopsided victories — 31-7 over the Cardinals and 38-17 over the Dolphins on Monday night:
1 . The Has are starting stronger under Marc Trestman. A year ago, the Bears were the second-worst first-quarter team in the NFL. In 16 games, they averaged 4. 4 yards per enjoy (2. 9 yards per enjoy through the first four games), along with 71 points and 23 ‘‘negative’’ plays — six interceptions, 4 fumbles and 13 sacks permitted. In four games this season, they are averaging 6. 3 yards per play in the first quarter (ninth in the NFL), with 44 points (a pace for 176) then one negative play — one interception, no fumbles and no sacks permitted.
2 . The Bears’ improved play early gives all of them a better chance to win because the New orleans saints ‘‘new and improved’’ defense is not stellar in the first quarter. The particular Saints are allowing 6. 3 yards per play (25th within the NFL) in the first quarter, along with only one of their 12 sacks and none of their 15 takeaways. In fact , against the Dolphins on Monday night, the Saints defense allowed almost eight. 8 yards per play (221 yards on 25 plays) until Ryan Tannehill threw an interception with 1: 30 to go within the first half. The Dolphins had been trailing 14-10 at the time. The New orleans saints scored a touchdown off that will turnover for a 21-10 lead. Only in the second half did the Saints turn the game into a rout, getting all four of their sacks after taking a 28-10 lead early within the third quarter.
3. The Bears should be able to establish the run early against the Saints. Trestman downplayed the fact that the Saints are 22nd in the league in rushing defense and 32nd in rushing defense per attempt, but these are the facts: In the first quarter, whenever every game has been close, the Bears are third in the NFL in rushing yards per attempt (6. 7); the Saints are 25th in rushing yards permitted per attempt (5. 8).
4. In games on grass, the Saints are 3-3 against winning teams (based on final records) with Drew Brees at quarterback. The Saints do not become a different team on lawn or on the road. But they’re less lethal as they are in the Superdome.
5. As imposing since the Saints have appeared in their last two games, this is the same group that needed a field goal since time expired to beat the still-winless Buccaneers 16-14 in Tampa in Week 2 . The Buccaneers, in fact , missed a 47-yard industry goal with 1: 10 to visit that would have given them a 17-13 lead. Instead, Brees got the ball at the Saints 37 and needed only three plays to get a chip shot field objective to win it.
6. The Saints also nearly lost to the Falcons at home within the opener. Trailing 23-17, the Falcons had a fourth-and-goal at the Saints 3 with 49 seconds left in regulation when Matt Ryan’s move for Tony Gonzalez was likely by rookie Kenny Vaccaro and intercepted by Roman Harper. They are good and playing better recently. But they’re hardly a robust 4-0.
7. For exactly what it’s worth, the Saints have struggled on the road after playing on Monday Night Football in the Received Brees era. In 2009, when they had been 11-0 against the 3-8 Redskins at Fed Ex Field, they required a late fourth-quarter touchdown in order to tie and won 33-30 in overtime. In 2008, they lost at Tampa Bay, 23-20. In Brees’ first season in Brand new Orleans in 2006, the 3-0 Saints lost at Carolina 21-18 after playing on MNF.
That doesn’t mean the Bears will beat the New orleans saints on Sunday. The Bears still have to find a way to stop Drew Brees with a defensive line that is lacking Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton and is struggling to make the effect it has in the past. Jay Cutler needs to avoid the turnovers that plagued him against the Lions. But to solution Hub’s question, there are some factors within the Bears’ favor that make it possible in order to predict a Bears victory.