The Saints did a fine job of picking themselves up off the mat last weekend, defeating the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 38-27 to snap a two-game losing skid.
Now, New Orleans will face a very beatable Bears team in a crucial matchup. Is it a must-win for the Saints? No, but this is one of those “gimme” games that New Orleans really needs if it wants to solidify itself as the NFC South favorite.
So what is the X-factor for the Saints against Chicago?
Here’s the deal with the Bears: they actually have a really good rushing defense. Chicago ranks third in the NFL in stopping the run, allowing just 78.8 yards on the ground per game. What’s more, the club is No. 1 in yards per carry allowed, where it surrendering just 3.3 yards per tote.
That’s not what you would expect from a team that is ranked 2-6 and is ranked 23rd in total defense, but, nevertheless, here we are.
But the thing is, it speaks volumes as to how terrible the Bears’ passing defense has been if they are that good in defending the run and yet rank that low in defense overall.
Chicago is just 30th in pass defense, giving up 262.3 yards per game through the air.
That’s where Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas comes into play.
Thomas has seen a bit of a resurgence this season, logging 38 catches for 439 yards and a touchdown in what are his best numbers since 2019 due to injuries. Fortunately, the veteran has been able to remain healthy in 2023, and last week, he posted a season-high 68 yards in the win over the Colts.
Could that be a sign of things to come? Possibly, especially considering he will be going up against a pretty putrid pass defense in Week 9.
Derek Carr had a great bounceback game last Sunday, going 19-for-27 with 310 yards and a couple of touchdowns after some pretty poor outings in the weeks prior.
Look for Carr to target Thomas even more this weekend, as he surely built some confidence back after throwing the football very well in Indianapolis. Sure, he also has Rashid Shaheed and Chris Olave (not to mention running back Alvin Kamara), but Thomas could be the guy who ultimately breaks the field open for New Orleans’ aerial attack against the Bears.
Am I saying we will see 2019 Michael Thomas again? Not necessarily, but we could certainly see a strong performance from him where he may very well snare his second touchdown of the year and make some other big plays throughout the contest.