After Monday night’s 38-17 win over the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints (4-0) travel to Soldier Field (3-1) to face the Chicago Bears in a battle between NFC heavyweights. A balanced approach on offense, defense and special teams have spurred New Orleans’ fourth 4-0 start ever. The team has improved to 5-0 in 1991, 1993 and 2009.
In the win over the Dolphins, the Saints enjoyed a strong performance from all three phases. The offense took advantage of two second quarter turnovers forced by the defense that led to 14 points, including a fumble recovery by S Rafael Bush and an interception by CB Jabari Greer, to give New Orleans a 21-10 lead going into the half. Greer’s pick was the first of three on the day for the Saints. The Saints held an opponent under 20 points for the fourth consecutive game for the first time since 2007 powered by a relentless pass rush led by OLB Junior Galette, DE Cameron Jordan, DE Tyrunn Walker and OLB Martez Wilson, each who recorded one sack apiece.
Offensively, the Saints came up with a season-high 465 total net yards, including 397 through the air. QB Drew Brees passed for 413 yards with four touchdowns and a 144.5 passer rating. RB Darren Sproles had 222 all-purpose yards, as he scored once on the ground and once through the air, as part of seven grabs for a gamehigh 114 yards.
The Saints face their stiffest challenge to date from a hard-nosed Bears team that has opened up with an impressive 3-1 record under first-year Head Coach Marc Trestman. Sunday’s matchup will feature two clubs that have posted a combined 7-1 record through success on all three sides of the ball. With 10 takeaways on defense and only five lost fumbles and interceptions, the Saints are tied with the Bears for fifth in the NFL in turnover ratio at +5.
The Saints are currently ranked fourth in the NFL in total offense, second passing the ball, sixth defensively and fifth against the pass. New Orleans is tied for seventh in the league in points per game, while ranking fifth in scoring defense.
While Brees has enjoyed a typically productive season near the top of the passing rankings, completing 111-of-166 attempts (66.9%) for an NFL-best 1,434 yards with 10 touchdowns and a 103.8 passer rating, TE Jimmy Graham has enjoyed one of the most productive seasons in NFL history for a tight end to date, leading the club in receiving with 27 catches for 458 yards (17.0 avg.) with six touchdowns. His 413 receiving yards over his last three games is tied with two other players for the highest in NFL history over a three-game period by a tight end. A resurgent defense has recorded seven interceptions, tied for third in the league, after making only 15 in all of 2012. DE Cameron Jordan leads the team with four sacks, while ILB Curtis Lofton leads the Black and Gold with 29 stops, also adding a forced fumble.