Saints vs. Bears: A History of Rivalry and Storied Matchups

2023-11-05 13:30:00

Finally for the New Orleans Saints, after four consecutive games against teams from the AFC, they are done with the interconference foes and now come back to the opponents they know a little more and have more history against.

It begins Sunday, as the Chicago Bears come to the Crescent City for the first time since a playoff meeting in January 2021, which turned out to be the 181st and final victory in the storied career of future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.

This will be the 34th meeting all time between the two, including three playoff games played in 1991, 2007 and 2021. It has been a big advantage for the Saints this century, and the oddsmakers think that streak will continue.

It’s time to take a look at this series going back to the first game between them in 1970 at Tulane Stadium. Who has the series lead? How can we watch? How have the two starting quarterbacks done against this opponent? What’s the line? What will the teams be wearing?

All these questions answered (and more) in our weekly history and trends column. Here we go …

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SAINTS vs. BEARS

TIME/TV: Sunday at noon at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. The game will be broadcast on CBS on a regional basis (Louisiana, Mississippi, parts of Alabama, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and the Pensacola, Fla., area) with an announcing team of Andrew Catalon, Tiki Barber and Matt Ryan with AJ Ross as the sideline reporter. The WWL radio team is Mike Hoss and Deuce McAllister.

LINE TREND: The line early in the week moved very quickly toward the Saints, jumping from an opening of -7 to -8.5 at Caesars Sportsbook, and it remained there for several days before jumping to -9.5 late Saturday night.

Assuming it remains above 8, this would be the first time the Saints are favored by more than one score in the Dennis Allen era, and the first time since they were 17-point favorites at Denver on Nov. 29, 2020, when the Broncos (literally) did not have a quarterback. New Orleans won that game, 31-3. It also would be the 57th time in team history they were favored by 8.5 or more. (Thirty-eight of those came with Sean Payton as coach.)

The money line as of late Saturday has the Saints at a whopping -440 – the largest favorite in the NFL this week – to bet straight up, while the Bears were at +335. The over/under total is 41. What did I pick in this one? Check out my NFL Week 9 picks column.

WEATHER FORECAST: Not only will it be near perfect outside the Caesars Superdome with temperatures near 80, but – as always – it will be even nicer inside (but really chilly in the press box).

UNIFORMS: The Saints are wearing their traditional home black jerseys with gold numbers and black pants with their usual gold helmet and black socks. The Bears are wearing their road white jerseys with navy blue numbers and blue and orange  stripes on the sleeve. They also will wear their iconic and traditional blue helmets with the Chicago “C” logo on each side. It was uncertain as of this typing what color pants they would wear.

REFEREE: Ron Torbert is the lead official, and he has been in that role since 2014. New Orleans is 7-3 all time and has won six of the past seven games he has officiated (including the 2023 season-opening victory against Tennessee), while Chicago is 1-7 with seven consecutive losses.

Ron Torbert is the lead official and has been in that role since 2014. New Orleans is 6-3 all time when he officiates their games, while Tennessee is 4-3.

TEAM INFO, STREAKS

SAINTS (4-4, 1-2 at home)

The Saints are ranked 12th in the NFL in overall offense (yards gained per game) and tied for 17th in points scored. They are 20th in rushing offense and 10th in passing. … The team is fifth in overall defense and ninth in points allowed. They are 17th against the run and seventh against the pass.

Last week, New Orleans collected 407 total offensive yards for the third consecutive week, which was the first time they had such a streak since the middle of the 2018 season. If they can do it again Sunday against the Bears, it would be the first time they have accomplished the feat in four straight games since 2014 and only the eighth time ever. The team record for most consecutive games with 407 or more total yards of offense is six – set in both 2011 and 2012.

For the second consecutive season, the Saints have had a seven-week stretch of win-loss-loss-win-loss-loss-win. Last year, they followed that stretch with two more losses.

The Saints have forced at least one turnover in eight straight games to start the season, which marks the first time they have done that since the Super Bowl season of 2009, when they collected at least one turnover in the first 13 games of the year. (And they started the season 13-0.)

BEARS (2-6, 1-3 on the road)

Chicago is ranked 19th in the NFL in overall offense (yards gained per game) and tied for 17th in points scored. They are sixth in rushing offense and 26th in passing. … They are 23rd in the NFL in overall defense and 28th in points allowed. The Bears are third against the run and 30th against the pass.

A few paragraphs ago, we told you the Saints have collected at least one turnover in eight straight games to start the season for the first time since 2009. Conversely, the Bears have coughed it up at least twice in nine straight losses dating back to last December. In their only two victories this season, they did not commit a turnover.

A few weeks ago, the Bears ended a 14-game losing streak across two seasons. They’re still in a historic funk, as they remain in their only streak of losing 16 of the previous 18 games they have played. That’s EVER – as in going all the way back to the beginning of the franchise in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys.

SAINTS vs. BEARS SERIES

All-time: The Saints lead the overall series, 18-15, including three playoff games between the two. (Chicago leads that, 2-1.) Also, New Orleans has now won the past six regular-season games in a row over the course of 12 seasons and the one playoff game played during that span. The Bears won the first game ever played between the two, 23-17, on Dec. 1, 1968 at Tulane Stadium.

Last meeting: New Orleans won, 21-9, on Jan. 10, 2021, in New Orleans, in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs. The win would turn out to be the last for Drew Brees, as the Saints lost the following week to Tampa Bay in the divisional round. The Saints also won the last regular-season meeting a few months earlier – 26-23 – on Nov. 1, 2020.

All-time in New Orleans / Baton Rouge: Saints lead, 8-5, including 1-0 in playoffs.

All-time in Chicago / Champaign (Ill.): Series tied at 10, including the Bears leading 2-0 in the playoffs.

SERIES BY THE NUMBERS

32: Years since New Orleans lost to Chicago in the Superdome. They have lost six times to Chicago since that 1991 loss, but five of them came at Soldier Field and the other came at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, where the Saints played most of their home games in 2005 due to the damage Hurricane Katrina did to the Dome.

10: Victories for the Saints in 13 games against the Bears this century, including the one playoff win.

11: Average margin of victory for New Orleans in those 10 victories.

52.8: Percentage of completed passes by Bears quarterbacks throughout the 30-game regular-season series.

3: Difference in touchdowns to interceptions Bears passers have thrown against New Orleans in those games (44-41).

MEMORABLE GAMES IN THE SERIES

Jan. 21, 2007 (Bears 39, Saints 14): It was not the performance the Saints were looking for (says Captain Obvious), but considering this was how the season after Katrina ended and where, it was a sign that the team’s fortunes were about to change. In Sean Payton’s and Drew Brees’ first season in New Orleans, the team made it all the way to the NFC championship game, but couldn’t get much going offensively in the muck and the mud at Soldier Field.

The bright spot was an 88-yard catch and run by Reggie Bush that cut the deficit to 16-14 in the third quarter, but Rex Grossman and the Bears went on a roll to finish it off, as no Saints rusher collected more than 19 yards on the ground.

Then, with the greatest defensive play the Saints have ever had, Louisiana native Tracy Porter intercepted Peyton Manning and went 74 yards for the Pick 6 that sealed the team’s only Super Bowl victory.

Oct. 5, 1997 (Saints 20, Bears 17): In Mike Ditka’s return to Chicago as coach of the Saints and against the Bears for the first time, he led New Orleans to just their second victory of the season, despite the fact quarterback Heath Shuler was just 9-of-23 for 195 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Chicago dropped to 0-6 on the way to a 1-10 start, as the Saints sacked Bears quarterbacks Erik Kramer and Rick Mirer a combined five times.

QUARTERBACKS IN THE SERIES

Neither TYSON BAGENT nor JUSTIN FIELDS has ever started vs. NEW ORLEANS

DEREK CARR is 1-2 vs. CHICAGO (all with Raiders)

Oct. 10, 2021 (in Las Vegas): L, 20-9. 22-35, 206 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT.

Oct. 6, 2019 (in Oakland): W, 24-21. 25-32, 229 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT.

Oct. 4, 2015 (in Chicago): L, 22-20. 20-33, 196 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT.

TOTALS: 67-of-100 (.670 completion percentage), 631 yards (210.3 per game), 2 TD, 2 INT.

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