The Chicago Bears will take on the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card after magically making the playoffs thanks to the LA Rams. Even though the Bears lost their Week 17 matchup at home against the Green Bay Packers, Chicago clinched the final playoff spot in the NFC since the Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals.
While the Bears are excited to be back in the playoffs after missing it last season, they already lost their Wild Card contest to the Saints before the game even started.
The Bears and Saints played each other in Week 8
The Bears lost to the Saints by a final score of 26-23 at home back in Week 8. Nick Foles started at quarterback for Chicago. He threw two touchdowns and one interception in the overtime loss.
Mitchell Trubisky will be under center in the Wild Card game. The former second overall pick started the final six games of the season for the Bears, who finished the campaign at 8-8 despite starting the year 5-1. Trubisky went 6-3 as the starting QB in 2020. He threw for 2,055 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 67.0% of his passes.
While the Bears’ offense looked much better with Trubisky leading the way, they still don’t have an explosive enough scoring attack to keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints, who averaged 30.1 points per game in 2020. Chicago running back David Montgomery and wideout Allen Robinson have been flourishing ever since Trubisky replaced Foles as the starting QB, and the Saints will be without Trey Hendrickson, who is second in the NFL in sacks.
However, the Bears will be missing two key players on both sides of the ball, all but assuring they will lose to the Saints.
The Bears will be without Darnell Mooney and Roquan Smith
The Bears will be without wide receiver Darnell Mooney and linebacker Roquan Smith against the Saints. Mooney is an elite deep threat for Chicago, while Smith is the best tackler on defense. It’s going to be impossible for the Bears to replace both guys.
Chicago’s defense didn’t look all that impressive toward the later stages of the season, and that was with Smith anchoring the middle. Now that the 23-year-old has been ruled out, all signs point toward Saints superstar Alvin Kamara having his way in the running and passing game versus the Bears’ defense.
Smith had 98 solo tackles for the Bears this season. Meanwhile, Mooney recorded 61 receptions during his rookie campaign for 631 yards and four touchdowns. While Chicago star Khalil Mack says the team is using its doubters as motivation for the Saints game, there is no chance the Bears will win this contest without Mooney and Smith playing.
Chicago needs to make some changes in the offseason
Mitchell Trubisky becomes a free agent in the offseason after the Bears declined to pick up his 2021 option. It is widely believed that Chicago and Trubisky will part ways.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace traded up in the 2017 draft to select Trubisky and passed on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, both of whom are superstars in the NFL. Chicago fans want Pace and head coach Matt Nagy fired since the team has regressed following their 2018 NFC North title. Nagy’s job is likely safe since the Bears have made the playoffs in two out of his first three years at the helm.
However, Pace could be on the hot seat, especially if he can’t get a quarterback in free agency or acquire one via trade.
Stats courtesy of Football Reference.