Following a disappointing loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 6, the Chicago Bears will have their toughest game of the season this week at home against the New England Patriots. It will most likely mark the last time future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady will play at Soldier Field.
The Bears are in a dire need for a win as with a loss they could be knocked out of first place in the NFC North. Here are five keys to a Bears victory against the New England Patriots:
Leonard Floyd needs to make plays
Before general manager Ryan Pace traded for linebacker Khalil Mack a week before the start of the season, Leonard Floyd was seen as the team’s best pass rusher. Floyd has not recorded a sack through the first six games of the season as he has played with a club on his hand following a pre-season injury.
Last week the Bears failed to sack Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler as the Dolphins kept both Mack and Akiem Hicks in check. The Patriots will look to do the same as Floyd will need to step up and take advantage of the attention not being given to him to apply pressure on Brady.
Score Early and often on offense to change the Patriots offensive game plan
The Patriots counter opposing pass rushers with short passing routes utilizing quick screens, slants, and swing passes to running backs and slot receivers. Their offense is at their best when they are able to mix that with deep passing routes to confuse defenses into broken coverages.
On offense, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and other can help the defense by scoring early and often to force the Patriots to play from behind. New England’s passing game changes when they are trailing by multiple scores as Brady looks for deeper passes to pick up big gains in a small amount of time. Not having to guard against the short passes could help not only in coverage but pass rushing also.
Learn from your mentor
Head coach Matt Nagy is a benefactor of NFL scheduling as his former employer in the Kansas City Chiefs were the Patriots opponent last week. Nagy’s offensive philosophy is almost identical to that of Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
The Bears coach will have the added benefit of having game film of how the Patriots defense game planned against an offense that is very similar to his offense here in Chicago. He will be able to better highlight weaknesses and find advantages he may have against Bill Belichick’s defense.
A bounce-back game for the defense
In the Dolphins Loss, the Bears defense had a massive collapse in the fourth quarter allowing two touchdowns on plays 40 yards or longer on short passes. Bad tackling and poor angles to the ball carrier is what allowed the scores to take place.
It is imperative that against the Patriots that Bears defenders make all their tackles and do not take bad angles as giving extra plays to Brady would be a costly mistake.
Answer the call of the moment
Sunday’s game will be seen as a test to see how good the Bears are and how they match up against the best of the best of the NFL. In 2010, that season’s Bears team was in a similar position as many wanted to see how they were playing against the Patriots.
They failed to impress as they lost an early December game 36-7 in a blizzard as New England’s offense dominated the game. This Sunday it will be important that this year’s team puts forth a better effort as these games can be a quality learning experience no matter what the outcome.
A win would be a huge morale boost for a team that let an opportunity like last week’s game slip away.