After starting the season a perfect 4-0, the New Orleans Saints are in a great spot within their division and their conference. They have already jumped out to a strong three-game lead over division rivals the Atlanta Falcons, who fell to 1-3 following their loss to the New England Patriots last Sunday night. Conference-wise they are in a pretty good spot as well. The only other team to remain perfect thus far in the NFC is the Seattle Seahawks, who the Saints will play in Week 13.
New Orleans may have been the beneficiaries of an easier schedule than most for the 2013 NFL season. All told, the Saints only face four playoff teams from last season—the Patriots, Falcons, Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. This of course does not include the 10-6 Chicago Bears, who missed the playoffs last season despite their better-than-most record.
The Saints will get their first test on the road this Sunday when they travel to Soldier Field to take on the Bears. Recent history has not been kind to New Orleans when they have faced Chicago and their Cover 2 defense. The Saints have lost three road games in Chicago from 2006-2008.
New Orleans definitely seems to be on fire offensively after their Week 4 performance against Miami, but playing against the Bears in Chicago will still be a challenge. The Bears are again near the top of the list in the takeaway/giveaway category. So far, Chicago has tallied 14 takeaways for a +5 takeaway/giveaway ratio. New Orleans has the same ratio of +5, thanks in part to less giveaways on offense.
Chicago has also been allowing quite a bit of yardage through their first four games. Coming in at No. 21 in the league, the Bears have been allowing 384 yards per game to opposing offenses. Their defense has also given up 114 points thus far, placing them at No. 26 overall.
The Bears have had trouble rushing the passer on defense. Through their first four games the Bears have only recorded six sacks. This problem was compounded when defensive tackle Henry Melton suffered a torn ACL in their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Luckily for the Saint,s quarterback Drew Brees is usually quick to get rid of the ball and has the ability to step up into the pocket and briefly extend plays when he needs to. Without a defense pressuring Brees and creating havoc, New Orleans’ pass game should be able to function like normal and do their thing.
This will be a tough game, no doubt. I am not entirely sure the Saints will come away with a 5-0 record, but I do think they have a slight edge, even with being on the road.