Chicago – The New Orleans Saints aren't undefeated, but there aren't many teams that wouldn't want to be them right now.
The Saints (6-1) have won five straight, the latest a 36-25 thumping of Chicago that was a significantly wider margin than the final 11-point gap. New Orleans led 36-10 in the fourth quarter, and drove Bears fans out of Soldier Field long before time expired.
It was as satisfying a victory as the Saints have had this season, in part because it was accomplished without Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook, among others.
If ever the Saints needed the next man to step up, it was against the Bears. The next man – and everyone else – did just that.
OFFENSE: Latavius Murray was a grown man against the Bears, who pride themselves on being the bullies on the block. Murray and the Saints' offensive line dominated, especially in the second half. Murray followed a very solid game against Jacksonville (eight carries for 44 yards, three catches for 35) with a significantly better one – 27 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns, with another one called back because of a penalty. The Saints needed him to handle a heavy workload and he did that, and more. He'll be the first to tell you that the offensive line, too, was spectacular. The Saints leaned on Chicago until the Bears weakened; clearly, the Saints were the most physical team on the field Sunday. Teddy Bridgewater and Michael Thomas continued to show that the chemistry is real – they are a legit problem for opposing defenses – but Murray gave the Saints a hammer at running back that chipped away at Chicago's run defense.
DEFENSE: Let's see: Cam Jordan had a pair of sacks and moved into third place on the franchise all-time list; Vonn Bell forced and recovered another fumble; and the Saints' run defense was about as good as it possibly could be, surrendering 17 yards on seven carries. But rookie defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson was a strong presence in his start at nickel – seven tackles, two passes defensed, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. He got in on the action on special teams, too, but he blended in perfectly on defense with P.J. Williams out due to league suspension. Gardner-Johnson showed why the Saints drafted him, and hold him in such high regard.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Defensive back J.T. Gray is a Saint because of the work he does on special teams. You saw it Sunday. His blocked punt in the first quarter opened the scoring – he couldn't recover it and the Bears were smart enough to bat the ball out of the end zone for a safety – and set the tone for the Saints, who blocked another punt (by Zach Line) and took advantage of Chicago's blocking scheme.