The sky was once the limit for the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints. Both these teams were expected to be in the mix for the NFC Championship but both have fallen well short of expectations. They will face off on Monday Night Football in a game that has little impact on the NFL landscape.
It looks like the current run of this Saints team is coming to an end. The Sean Payton–Drew Brees combo was lethal offensively and guaranteed the Saints a playoff run every year, but the Saints don’t seem to be the same team since Bountygate. Whether there is a correlation is anybody’s guess.
Brees is also clearly on the downside of his career. He’s still a very good quarterback, but he is no longer the same QB who was an MVP candidate year in and year out. Rob Ryan’s defense has been a mess, and those factors leave the Saints at 5-8 with three games to play.
New Orleans has playoff aspirations, but that’s due to a laughable NFC South and has nothing to do with their actual play. The Saints may be playoff bound at 6-10 or 7-9 while an 11-5 Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles team will be watching the playoffs from home.
The Bears’ season has been even more of an embarrassment. Every time you think the Bears have hit rock bottom, someone throws them a shovel. They sputtered out of the gate, screamed at each other in the locker room, were humiliated on back-to-back games by the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, and now offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer is throwing his own quarterback under the bus.
As if the Bears weren’t in enough turmoil, Kromer snuck off to the media to tell the NFL Network that his defensive counterpart, Mel Tucker, is going to be fired, and that nobody wants Jay Cutler around. ‘Buyer’s remorse’ is the term Kromer used, but the message was heard loud and clear.
The Bears are a very private organization. When they hire coaches, they run mock press conferences to make sure they can handle themselves properly and not say anything that would reflect negatively on the organization. The organization despises when its players or coaches sneak off to the media to give inside information. Tucker will certainly be fired due to performance, and although Kromer’s performance isn’t much better, you can bet his resignation letter will be on Phil Emery’s desk after Week 17 as well.
Marc Trestman may survive, but his coordinators will both be looking for work.
The fact that the entire Bears organization is in turmoil doesn’t bode well for their performance against the Saints. The Saints, despite their weak record, are still fighting for a playoff spot, and the Bears are simply playing out the string and aren’t exactly going to rally behind their coach with pride on the line like the New York Jets did this week behind Rex Ryan.
The Bears players would love the clock to fast forward to Dec. 29 where they can put this wretched season behind them, but unfortunately, they won’t be that lucky. Despite the Saints struggling this season as well, they aren’t imploding like Chicago. The Saints will take this one 26-16.