What the Patriots have to do on Sunday to beat the Bears
By John Crist, Bear Report
1) Run, run, run the ball, and when they're convinced they've run it enough, run some more - Dillon and Maroney need to get 30-35 carries between them. A straight-ahead approach usually works best because Urlacher and Briggs are simply too fast going east and west. Tank Johnson has replaced Ian Scott in the starting lineup at defensive tackle, and although Johnson is the better all-around player, Scott is a tremendous run-stuffer. Run hard, run downhill, and run often.
2) Forget about the deep ball in the passing game and stick with short and intermediate routes - The Bears employ the ever-popular cover-two system as well as anyone, and with the way the two safeties split the field down the middle, even the fastest receivers have trouble getting behind them. It's difficult to drive down the field against this defense with 10- and 12-play drives, but Brady has the kind of patience and accuracy to do just that. Traditionally, a tight end that can occupy the middle of the field is also a way to combat the cover-two, so Ben Watson and Daniel Graham need to be factors in the seam. Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman are very good cornerbacks, but neither one is considered to be a true lockdown guy.
3) Pressure Grossman right in his face - Few quarterbacks of his small stature have as big of an arm as he does, but conversely, he's not very fleet of foot. Grossman has a bad habit of retreating directly backwards when pressure comes from up the middle as opposed to sprinting out to the right or left. This causes him to get sloppy with his mechanics, and he already has a tendency to throw off his back foot too much. Grossman is going to throw the ball up for grabs once or twice, so it's up to the defense to capitalize on those mistakes and make big plays.
What the Bears have to do to beat the Patriots
By Jon Scott, Patriots Insider
1) Get to Brady - The Patriots have had their fair share of difficulties protecting Tom Brady during games. The Broncos and the Jets were able to get pressure on him with their front seven, and even a disguised blitz every so often. It was enough to throw off the rhythm of Brady and his receivers and put the Patriots offense back on its heels. When Brady has time, he turns in games like the ones against Minnesota and Green Bay. When he's pressured, sometimes he can buy enough time to do good things (Buffalo games) and sometimes he can't (Indianapolis game).
2) Stop the run - One of the keys to the Patriots wins is the threat of having both Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney turn in solid performances. New England has tried to disguise their looks, including splitting out the running back as a receiver to slow down the pass rush. Some of those formations have been more successful than others. But when the Patriots want to run, they are usually able to build enough momentum to setup the play action, which Brady has capitalized on to get the ball downfield, or at least to their tight end Ben Watson. Watson leads the team in receptions.
Kevin Faulk is also a threat as a change of pace back. Faulk is a speedy third-down back who runs the draw well against overaggressive defensive fronts. If the Patriots can block the middle in those situations, Faulk has made some significant gains.
3) Special teams - New England has been horrid at times on special teams coverage. The unit has undergone a fair amount of turnover as special teams coach Brad Seely tried to revamp the unit to improve its performance. Last week was a major improvement over weeks past. If Devin Hester gets some decent blocking, there's no doubt he'll be able to get the Bears into solid field position to start drives. It's a matter of taking advantage of those situations to score.