The Patriots continue to impress and are coming off their best game of the season yet again. Beating the Jets 45-3 has certainly made them the favorites to win the AFC. The Patriots are the hottest team in football and with only 4 games left they are in a perfect position. Their schedule remains tough as they face a good-looking NFC team in the Chicago Bears. The Bears have won 5 in a row and like the Patriots are getting better and better with each game they play. Their offense is looking much stronger and everyone seems to be on the same page, where in previous weeks many of the players looked confused and out of place on lots of offensive series.’ If the Patriots want to win this game they are going to have to come in with a little different strategy than they had against the Jets.
I will start with the Patriots offense. Brady is looking fantastic and is making great decisions. He has not thrown an interception in the last 1786324585 pass attempts or so. He will continue to play great and use his weapons as they are meant to be used. This is the one week I do not think Brady should throw to Welker so often. I think the Bears will be able to cover Welker better than most other teams. This means some of the other guys who have not been targeted as much might get some more looks this game. To make up for Welker being covered I think the rookie TEs will both have solid games. They have both shined this season, but they usually shine at different times. In most cases one of them will be covered by a solid defensive back while the other covered by a LB that just cannot keep up. This week I see both of them getting open often. The Bears cannot afford to have Briggs or Urlacher matchup against one or both of the TEs on every play. Brady has put a lot of trust into both these rookies and will look for them often. Aside from Gronkowski and Hernandez, I think Danny Woodhead will be another big factor. He is great at getting Brady out of trouble and with his size he maneuvers well and finds openings out of the backfield. Those guys should keep busy throughout the game. Aside from them, Branch will get a few catches and maybe one big one. Welker will get the ball, but I expect less than 6 catches. Green-Ellis continues to play well, but has a tough matchup against the 2nd ranked rush defense. I should not say I don’t expect much from him because of how well he has been playing lately, but I really don’t see him gaining more than 60 yards on the ground. The Bears have the 3rd overall best defense, but the Patriots put up the most points in the league on a weekly basis and I do not see them slowing down. The Bears will give them some confusing packages on defense that will throw the Pats off, but Brady will figure it out one way or another.
As for the Patriots defense, they continue to thrive, and face a decent offense that is fairly predictable. The Bears do not have too many big plays in their playbooks, but they do have the ability to wear defenses down. They have a lot of long methodical drives that defenses have a tough time stopping. The Bears find ways to gain yards on every single play and doing this really throws defenses off their game. The Patriots will need to find a way to slow the Bears offense down and I definitely think they are capable of that. If they can get Cutler to throw just one pick, the momentum will definitely be in the Pats favor. I think Cutler pretty much loses all sense of decision making once he makes that first turnover. The Patriots don’t necessarily have to blitz to force bad throws, but if they drop some D-lineman into coverage and mix up their packages they have a good shot at confusing Cutler.
The Patriots have everything going right for them and this week’s matchup is just another big opportunity for the Pats. I see a win this week and it could be another big one. I expect the Patriots to win this one 34-17. I think it will be close throughout the first half, but the Patriots will come out explosive in the 2nd half much like they have in recent games.
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Written by David Reid