Saints Provide Challenge in the Trenches

Controlling the line of scrimmage against New Orleans will go a long way toward earning a second straight road victory for the Bears. In order to do so, it will come down to keeping Kyle Orton upright and making sure Aaron Brooks is familiar with the ground by game's end.

The Bears have surrendered 16 sacks this season, which in the middle of the pack when it comes to allowing one once every 12.5 pass attempts. The offensive line will be tested against a Saints defensive end rotation of Will Smith, Darren Howard, Charles Grant and Tony Bryant that have combined for 11.5 sacks.

The unit has been able to give Kyle Orton time in the pocket to where he can make the correct decision. He has just one interception over his last four games. Part of that is how offensive coordinator Ron Turner is calling the game, but the rookie quarterback is also improving on a weekly basis.

The Saints are an NFL worst minus-12 in turnover takeaway ratio. The amount of pressure put on Orton will determine if that total falls in New Orleans' favor.

The Bears d-line has 11 sacks through seven games. Adewale Ogunleye and Tank Johnson each have three, while Tommie Harris has two. Alex Brown came up with his first QB takedown of the season a week ago at Detroit. He has led the team in the category the past two seasons, but has yet to produce more than six sacks in a season.

In order to justify a five-year $16 million extension, Brown needs to go from a player that's always close to the quarterback to one that finishes the play. Ogunleye will go up against rookie RT Jammal Brown, which would seemingly favor the six-year veteran. However, the Saints traded up to get Brown in the first round of the draft and he hasn't disappointed.

Aaron Brooks is a mobile quarterback, but that hasn't stopped him from being sacked 23 times this season, including ten in the past two games. The main reason opponents have been able to reach him so frequently of late is the Saints have fallen behind and had to abandon the running game.

Even without Deuce McAllister, who is done for the season with a knee injury, the Saints are averaging 4.3 yards per carry. The Bears have not allowed an opponent to reach 100 yards rushing in the last six games and want to force Brooks to have to win the game.

Despite a strong arm, he often makes poor decisions and has 10 interceptions to six touchdowns this season. Still he has talent at his disposal. Joe Horn is healthy after missing three games with a pulled hamstring. On the opposite side Donte Stallworth is a speed threat and is one of four players averaging at least 14.5 yards per reception.

The Saints have the roster to be a playoff contender, but mistakes have led to four straight losses and a 2-6 mark. They're tops in the NFL in penalties, giveaways and dropped passes.

If the Bears can get in front of the Saints early and force them into errors this should be a team that will not be able to mount a come back. Considering everything they've went through, the Saints have a bye week after this game and mentally could be already there. If the Bears let New Orleans stick around into the fourth quarter then it's going to be a fight to the end.


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