Two teams at the top of their respective divisions clash in a cross conference matchup Sunday in what looks to be the headlining game for the early slate Sunday. The Patriots lead the all time series 9-3, and have won the last 4 contests heading back to 2002.
The Bears lost an overtime heartbreaker to Miami last week 31-28. Previously, the Bears beat the Cardinals 16-14 in week 3, smoked the Bucs 48-10 in week 4, and had a bye in week 5.
The Patriots outlasted the Chiefs Monday night 43-40. In week 4, the Patriots dominated the Dolphins 38-7, and beat the Colts 38-24 in week 5.
InterTops has the Patriots as 3.5 point favourites at home, with an O/U of 49.5.
New England Patriots
In what many expected to be a passing outburst from both sides, the Patriots decided to play the clock a bit more and commit to the run game. Tom Brady nickel and dimed the Chiefs up and down the field, taking shots when they were available, but really controlling the Chiefs short and over the middle. Brady ended up with an efficient 24/35 passing for 340 yards and a TD.
He really spread the ball around, taking full advantage of his bevy of weapons. Rob Gronkowski (3/97/0), James White (5/53/0), Julian Edelman (4/54/1), and Chris Hogan (4/78/0) each went over 50 yards in the contest, displaying the versatility of the Patriots passing attack. Sony Michel lived up to his first round draft status with another nice showing on the ground (28/106/2) and really dominated the Chiefs run D all game.
Up front, the Pats did a nice job of generating pressure early, forcing some open misses by Mahomes. They made it a focal point to take Travis Kelce out of the game, chipping him at the line of scrimmage, an D’onta Hightower continues to get back to his status of a top linebacker. They dared Mahomes to beat them deep, and in the end, he did, connecting with Tyreek Hill on a couple deep balls. Talent wise, they are nothing to get excited about, but continue to be one of the best coached defenses in the league.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
CB Eric Rowe (groin) – questionable, WR Josh Gordon (hamstring) – questionable, WR Julian Edelman (heel) – questionable
The Bears shortcomings last week really came on missed tackles and a lack of pressure. Offensively, they did nothing special but Mitch Trubisky is a good “see it, throw it” type of guy at this point. He went 22/31 for 316 yards, 3 TDs, and an INT, connecting down the field with Taylor Gabriel a few times, and letting Tarik Cohen make plays after the catch. Gabriel caught all 5 of his targets for 110 yards, while Cohen caught 7 balls for 90 yards, with 88 coming after the catch.
Jordan Howard and Cohen combined for 19 carries and 100 yards, and Howard had a killer fumble at the goal line with the Bears posing to score. Their offensive line continues to be one of the better units in the league, keeping Trubisky clean for the most part and opening up running lanes for Howard and Cohen.
As we mentioned earlier, the defense was killed by a lack of pressure. Khalil Mack did injure his ankle, but continued to play, and only recorded 1 pressure on 33 pass rush snaps. The Bears also missed a staggering 19 tackles, letting Albert Wilson catch 2 short crossers and take them the distance, which were really the difference in the game.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring) – questionable, WR Allen Robinson (groin) – questionable, EDGE Khalil Mack (ankle) – questionable
This game should be fun if you love X’s and O’s. How Matt Nagy plans to utilize his weapons against a savvy Pats defense, and how Bill Belichick plans on shutting the Bears offense down, as well as how the Pats attack the Bears tough defense.
After a ground and pound effort last week, we may see a more drop back and let it rip from the Pats this week, as the Bears have one of the top run defense in the league.
Between Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, and Bryce Callahan the Bears feature a formidable cornerback room, and the Patriots wide receivers will have to earn their paycheck this week. As always, Khalil Mack is a threat to flip the game on it’s head.
This game really comes down to the Bears offense for me, and whether they can get in the endzone consistently to keep up with a high powered Pats attack. Field goals won’t cut it this week, and Chicago is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to red zone TD percentage. All in all, I think Chicago comes up with a huge stop or 2 down the stretch, and does enough to keep this game close, while the Pats will probably still walk out with the win.
Final Pick: Patriots (+3.5)