Kickoff: Sunday, 12:00 CT
Television: FOX – Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Pam Oliver
Series: 23rd meeting. The series is tied 11-11, with the Saints taking five of the last seven regular-season meetings since 1996. The Bears, however, are 2-0 against the Saints in postseason play, including a 39-14 win on Jan. 21, 2007 at Soldier Field to advance to Super Bowl XLI.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Saints have thrown the ball an NFL-high 597 times, but QB Drew Brees has been sacked a league-low 13 times. And the passing game will be as critical as ever with rookie RB Pierre Thomas possibly in line for significant action due to injuries to Reggie Bush and Aaron Stecker. ... QB Kyle Orton didn't have to post big numbers against Green Bay with the Bears pounding the ball on the ground 47 times. If RBs Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe can do respectable work against the league's No. 14-ranked run defense, QB Kyle Orton can focus on what he does best – simply manage the game and methodically work against a Saints defense minus top cover man Mike McKenzie.
Saints: McKenzie (torn ACL) was placed on injured reserve; Bush (torn PCL) is uncertain; Stecker (turf toe) was to be reevaluated later in the week.
The Saints are trying to become just the second team to start 0-4 and still reach the playoffs. They need to win and have both Washington and Minnesota lose. ... The Bears are 5-0 since 1990 when rushing the ball at least 45 times.
WR Muhsin Muhammad
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Bears: Vasher was placed on injured reserve after missing 11 of the past 12 games with a groin injury that he said will not require surgery. ... LB Lance Briggs (hip) was limited in practice Thursday for the second straight day but said he would play on Sunday. ... WR Muhsin Muhammad (ankle) did not practice Thursday but is expected to start Sunday. ... DT Tommie Harris did not practice Thursday for the second straight day. But he is expected to play, which is basically the routine he's followed for most of the season. ... CB Trumaine McBride is expected to start in place of Vasher on Sunday, which would be the ninth start of the season for the seventh-round pick from Mississippi.
Saints: Bush did not practice again Thursday as he continues to rehab a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, an injury that has sidelined him for the last three games. ... Stecker, who has a turf toe injury on his left foot, was not able to workout Thursday and his availability for Sunday's game at Chicago is unknown. ... Thomas, an undrafted rookie, will probably start against if both Bush and Stecker are unable to play. ... QB Jamie Martin, who was limited Wednesday because of an injury to his right foot, fully participated in Thursday's practice. ... CB Jason Craft will likely start in place of McKenzie, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last week and was put on injured reserve.
Saints 23, Bears 20.
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