Its not often that you can boil a game down to one specific aspect that will determine who wins. That isn’t the case this Sunday either. But its close. Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune puts his finger on the biggest problem for the Bears:
“‘You definitely have to work it down the field (against the Bears), which is our kind of offensive mentality anyway,’ (Patriots wide receiver, Wes) Welker said. ‘And when you get your chances, take advantage of them.’
“Dink and dunk is what (Patriots quarterback, Tom) Brady might do better than anyone. It’s not that he can’t make all the throws downfield, but he’s patient and fully willing to take what you give him.
“His ball placement is such that he delivers passes where receivers can make the next move.”
This is the problem. Biggs describes it as being special to the defensive backs and the solution as being pressure from the front four with good fundamentals, which is all true.
But more than anything from the linebackers back into the secondary the Bears have to be sharp mentally, react quickly and play very, very fast. Receivers must be tackled immediately upon catching the ball. That’s always true but its especially important this week because the Patriots execute very, very well. You aren’t going to see receivers dropping many balls this week like you did to some extent when the Bears played the Eagles and the Lions. They aren’t going to give the Bears anything.
Oh, and just as an aside, here’s hoping strong side linebacker, Nick Roach, can play healthy this game because the Patriots can run the ball, too. I don’t think the Bears will be able to stop them with a nickel defense like they did against the Lions, either.
The Patriots are balanced and the Bears can’t be flat or we’ll have another 2009 Bengals game on our hands. For those who weren’t scared for life or who simply have blocked it from memory, that was the game when Cedric Benson and the rest of that offense did pretty much whatever they wanted against the Bears. That’s probably not going to happen with a healthy Bears defense on the field this year. But the fact remains that this is an awful matchup for the Bears. The 2010 Patriots are as good as any team in the league since the 49ers of the eighties at playing the underneath passing game. They’re very, very good at getting mismatches and more than ever if a receiver gets separation there’s serious trouble waiting. Here’s hoping that, as they have against most of the other teams they’ve played this year, they can limit the damage.