The 4-2 New England Patriots are coming off a home win against the previously unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs by an unheard of score: 43-40. It was a game the Patriots were supposed to win, and when they held the highest scoring team (215 total points this season) to just three field goals in the first half, the conclusion seemed inevitable.
But then the Patriots’ 20th ranked defense let the Chiefs back in the game, and if it weren’t for some late fourth quarter offensive heroics (quarterback Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski) and a field goal, that game would have gone into overtime. How will the Pats do against the Bears better defense (ranked 10th) and on the road, where they are 0-2?
The 3-2 Chicago Bears took a tough Week 6 away loss to the Miami Dolphins, 28-31, in a game where the Bears couldn’t score a first half point. They did find four touchdowns in the second half – three in the air and one on the ground, but it wasn’t quite enough for the win.
Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 316 yards, 3 touchdowns and a pick in that game while showing off his ability to move outside the pocket with 8 carries for 47 yards. Trubisky’s offense lands well into the NFL’s bottom tier (ranked 19th), but against a mediocre Patriots defense the Bears may find some great moments of opportunity.
If the Patriots win this matchup, they’ll move to 5-2 and stay atop the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins, alone or tied depending on how the 4-2 Dolphins do against the 2-3 Detroit Lions. But if the Bears come out on top, they’ll be 4-2 and move ahead of the 3-2 Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, who have a Week 7 bye.
Who’s favored to win this Week 7 Patriots-Bears matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Patriots and the Bears and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Tom Brady may be 41-years-old, but he plays like a 30-year-old quarterback. He’s mobile enough to avoid being sacked – he’s only been taken down 8 times, tied for 27th – and wise enough to spread the wealth – last week against KC he threw the ball to seven different receivers. Brady has thrown 13 touchdowns (tied for 6th most with Seahawk Russell Wilson) against 6 interceptions (tied for 8th most with Steeler Ben Roethlisberger).
And expect those numbers to get even better now that Gronkowski (ankle) is healthy, wide receiver Julian Edelman is back (he missed the first four games due to a suspension for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy) and newly acquired deep threat Josh Gordon is learning the playbook.
Add to that mix rookie running back Sony Michel’s explosive play – he’s averaging 80.0 rushing yards per game, 4.4 yards per run and has already scored 4 touchdowns with zero fumbles. Michel won’t have an easy day against the Bears, whose fourth-ranked run defense has kept opponents rushing attacks to just 83.4 total yards per game.
The Bears offense normally scores an average of 13.6 first half points (ranked 12th), so for them to put up a first half goose egg against the Dolphins was totally uncharacteristic. Thanks mostly to former Pro-Bowl running back Jordan Howard, Chicago has a better run game (8th) than passing (22nd). Howard will crash heads with a Patriots 18th ranked run defense that’s used to giving up 110.7 rushing yards per game.
The Bears top three receives are all new – free agent wide receivers Allen Robinson (JAX) and Taylor Gabriel (ATL) and second-round draft pick Anthony Miller were acquired in the offseason, as was tight end (and Super Bowl LII Champion) Trey Burton (PHI). They’re all slowly developing chemistry with second-year quarterback Trubisky, and facing the Patriots’ 21st ranked passing defense should help with that.
The Patriots defense has looked better as the season progresses, but last week against the Chiefs, they showed why they are only ranked 21st against the pass when they allowed quarterback Patrick Mahomes throw for four second-half touchdowns. They’ll face the same intensity with Bears Trubisky, whose 70.2 passing percentage is sixth best among active quarterbacks.
The Patriots’ defense will face the Bears’ running back Howard, who’s both a running and receiving threat. Linebackers Dont’a Hightower, Elandon Roberts and KyleVan Noy will have to step up and demonstrate why New England’s defense is ranked 11th in combined tackles with 401.
The Bears are better against the run (ranked 4th) than they are against the pass (ranked 16th), mostly due to their new defensive dynamic duo – recently acquired linebacker and running (and quarter-) back hunter Khalil Mack and rookie sensation linebacker Roquan Smith, the Georgia standout taken in the first-round, eighth overall.
The most confusing Bears defensive stat is their total number of combined tackles, 289, which is the lowest in the league. Despite so few tackles, the Bears are ranked second in interceptions (10), tied for second in forced fumbles (9) and 10th best in points allowed per game (27.8). They’ll need all of those skills against the Patriots, whose 14th ranked offense is used to scoring almost 30 points per game.
New England’s punter, Ryan Allen, has been a Patriot all six of his NFL years and has punted 21 times but for a net average of 40.1 yards per punt, ranked 14th in the NFL.
Chicago’s punter, Pat O’Donnell, is a fifth year pro who has punted 16 times for a net average of 42.5 yards per punt, ranked 5th in the NFL.
New England’s veteran placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who has spent all 13 of his NFL seasons as a Patriot, is 12-for-13, his longest was a 50-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (20/20).
Chicago’s placekicker, Cody Parkey, was a free agent pickup this offseason and has gone 9-for-11, his longest was a 50-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (16/16).
New England’s punt returner, wide receiver Julian Edelman, is ranked 19th in the league in return average. He’s returned 2 punts for 20 yards and a touchdown, averaging 10.0 yards per return, his longest was for 15 yards.
Chicago’s punt returner, running back Tarik Cohen, is ranked 10th in the league. He’s returned 12 punts for 146 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 12.2 yards per return, his longest for 42 yards.
The oddsmakers have the Patriots favored over the Bears by 3 with an over/under of 49.0.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Patriots 24, Bears 17
John Breech takes the under and predicts it Patriots 27, Bears 17
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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