About a year ago at this time, the New Orleans Saints entered the playoffs among the betting favorites to win Super Bowl 54. New Orleans stormed its way to a 13-3 regular-season record while cruising to their third-straight NFC South title.
However, things didn’t go according to plan. The Saints wound up losing in overtime at home to the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round, which was one of the biggest playoff upsets we have seen in some time. Minnesota would go on to lose to San Francisco in the Divisional Round after that.
The Saints finished with the No. 2 seed in the NFC this season following a 12-4 regular-season showing. Drew Brees missed a few games in the middle of the season after suffering a chest injury, but the future Hall of Famer is back and ready to try and lead the Saints to a second Super Bowl in what may be his final playoff run.
New Orleans will face another NFC North foe in the Wild Card Round this year. The Chicago Bears snuck into the playoffs thanks to a late-season surge as a Wild Card team despite a middling 8-8 record. Chicago was trounced by 19 points in their season finale against the Packers, but they got enough help elsewhere to nab the seventh and final playoff seed in the conference.
As you may expect, the Saints will enter as sizable favorites at home when the two teams meet on Sunday in the Superdome. BetOnline.ag currently has New Orleans favored by 10.5 points and at -500 to win the game outright on the moneyline. The Bears are the biggest underdog of the 12 teams in action this weekend.
Last Hurrah for Brees?
The list of accomplishments for Drew Brees since he arrived in New Orleans is a lengthy one. Brees is undoubtedly the greatest player to ever don a Saints uniform, and he’s hoping to bring one more title to the Big Easy before he hangs up his cleats. He led the New Orleans Saints to its first and only Super Bowl title ever back in 2010, but the team hasn’t appeared in the big game since.
Brees and Sean Payton have formed one of the most successful tandems in NFL history during their time together in New Orleans. While the 41-year-old QB may still have something left in the tank, he has reportedly already agreed to a broadcasting deal. That means this is very likely his last chance to win another Super Bowl before his playing career comes to a close.
Brees will be on the field on Sunday, but Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are questionable. Kamara was forced to miss last week’s game after a positive virus test, while Thomas has missed the past several weeks due to the lingering ankle injury that has dogged him all year long. Thomas is expected to practice in a limited capacity this week, but the team doesn’t yet know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bears.
Thomas and Kamara have been two of the most productive offensive players in all of football over the past handful of years, so missing one or both of them certainly wouldn’t help the Saints’ chances. If Thomas is out, Brees will have to rely more heavily on the likes of Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook, and Kamara to carry the passing attack. Kamara is expected to be eligible to return, but Latavius Murray will play a larger role if Kamara is a no-go. Tre’Quan Smith and Deonte Harris are among the Saints’ pass-catchers that are already on injured reserve.
The Saints enter the playoffs with the second-best odds (+275) of representing the NFC in Super Bowl 55. The top-seeded Packers (+160) are the NFC favorites, while the Bucs (+400) and Seahawks (+600) are the only other teams with odds south of +1000. New Orleans has the fourth-best odds (+800) of any team to win the title this season.
The Chicago Bears got off to a hot 5-1 start to the season before hitting the skids shortly thereafter. Chicago’s playoff hopes looked dead in the water when they dropped six straight games in the middle of the campaign, but the return of Mitch Trubisky wound up galvanizing Chicago’s offense down the stretch. The Bears took three of their last four games to climb into the seventh seed in the NFC playoffs.
Obviously, not many are giving Chicago much of a chance in New Orleans on Sunday. Chicago’s offense scored 30 or more points in four of their final five games before being held to 16 in the season finale against Green Bay. The Bears still finished just 22nd in the league in points per game, but the late-season scoring surge should give the team hope when it comes to keeping up with the high-octane Saints in this one.
While Trubisky has looked better in the latter stages of the season, David Montgomery has been the driving force in Chicago’s offensive uptick. Montgomery finished the season with 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, and all three of his 100-yard games came within a four-game span late in the year. The Bears’ best hopes of pulling the upset in this one likely hinge on their ability to get Montgomery going on the ground while keeping the Saints’ offense on the sidelines.
These two teams met at Soldier Field back in November, a game the Saints took 26-23 in overtime. Nick Foles was the Bears’ starting QB that day, while Montgomery ran for 89 yards on 21 attempts. Foles was sacked five times in the game, while the Bears wound up getting to Brees just once. Chicago had almost no success against Kamara, who went off for a total of 163 total yards on 21 offensive touches.
Chicago’s defense has been stingy against opposing receivers all year thanks in large part to the stellar efforts of Kyle Fuller and a quality pass rush. The Bears are going to have to generate consistent pressure against Brees in order to keep him from picking them apart on Sunday afternoon.
What’s the Best Bet?
Don’t overlook the importance of this game taking place in a dome. Offenses tend to thrive whenever they don’t have to deal with harsh weather elements, especially at this time of the year. The over has hit in six of the last eight home games for New Orleans, and the over/under in this game has been set at just 47 points.
The Saints have put 114 points on the board in the three games since Brees returned from his aforementioned injury. With Kamara expected back, there isn’t much reason to believe the Saints can’t continue to march up-and-down the field in this game. Chicago has an above-average defense, but few teams have shown the ability to slow down the Saints’ offense when it’s rolling at full capacity. Thomas’ potential return buoys the Saints’ attack even further.
This game has more shootout potential than the over/under seems to indicate. The over on 47 points is well within range regardless of whether we get a close game or a blowout. New Orleans is fully capable of putting 40-plus points on the board by themselves. Chicago’s offense has been humming along of late, so it isn’t a massive leap to expect the Bears to potentially make this a competitive game.
The over on 47 points is the bet here. Bet on a high-scoring affair in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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