Here’s a look at hypothetical propositional wagers between the Bears and Saints.
First team to score
Saints. This offense is too good not to score early. Perhaps the only way the Bears have a shot at scoring first here is if they receive the ball first like last week and score on the opening drive. That was a rare instance in which they started the game with the ball. Usually they lose the coin toss or defer to the second half. Whether from a touchdown drive or, at minimum, a field goal, I expect New Orleans to score first.
First Bears player to score
Matt Forte. I hit the nail on the head last week with picking the Bears to score first and Robbie Gould to get the job done, but this week I’m going against the odds and taking Forte to put the first points up. I think the Bears have a successful offensive drive on one of their first two possessions and punch the ball in the end zone.
First Bears player to catch a pass
Johnny Knox. Roy Williams missed two straight practices while nursing his sore groin and my guess is that he’ll not play this week. If he does, he won’t be very effective. I think Knox will step into the lineup and Cutler will look his way early.
Bears player to catch most passes
Johnny Knox. Once again, assuming that Williams sits out against the Saints, I expect Knox to have a big game. The Bears will probably pass quite a bit to keep up with the Saints’ high-powered offense, so if Knox plays a significant role, he’ll be targeted a lot.
More passing yards – Jay Cutler or Drew Brees
Drew Brees. … and by a wide margin. The Bears are going to shut down the Saints’ run game and I feel Brees will wing the ball more than 45 times. Despite the Bears’ ability to prevent the big play, Brees’ passing yards will add up quickly.
More touchdown passes or interceptions by Jay Cutler
Interceptions. Cutler had a few too many close calls last week against the Falcons. I did correctly pick a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio against Atlanta, though. I think with the Bears needing to throw quite a bit to keep up with the Saints, Cutler might get intercepted a few times. I expect 2-3 interceptions and 1-2 touchdown passes.
More rushing yards – Matt Forte or Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas
Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas. It wouldn’t be fair to compare Forte to Ingram or Thomas straight up because the Saints share the backfield workload. Forte had three less yards last week than Ingram and Thomas combined. I think Forte will have more rushing yards than one or the other, but I have a bad feeling that Mike Martz will either forget about the run game at some point in the game or be forced to neglect it by necessity if playing from behind.
Total combined rushing and receiving yards by Matt Forte
115. Last week Forte had 158 total yards, 56 of which came on his touchdown reception, so it may be a little bit of optimism to expect 115 yards from him this week. But he should once again be the focal point of the offense and be able to attain over 100 yards of offense.
Team to win the turnover battle
Saints. As previously mentioned, I think Cutler may have a few passes picked off and the Saints should be a little more careful with the ball. Being at home will certainly help them. This much could be true: if the Saints don’t win the turnover battle, the Bears will be in great position to win.
Total points scored
50. The Bears and Saints scored a combined 64 points last week and we can expect that to go down a little bit. I feel five touchdowns and five field goals could be the scoring breakdown.