After a dramatic last-second win over the Chiefs, the Pats are headed into Chicago to take on the Bears. But while Chicago presents a much easier matchup overall than Kansas City, the Bears do boast one of the league's most talented defenses. If superstar Bears D-lineman Khalil Mack plays, this will come down to a matchup of strength versus strength.
The Patriots are lucky that their trip to Chicago is in October--the weather tomorrow is slated for a sunny 50 degrees, meaning the Pats won't have to deal with much Chicago snow or wind. Tom Brady has led the Pats offense to 35+ points in each of their last three games. This week, that streak hinges on Khalil Mack's availability. If he's playing and making an impact, the Pats might have trouble cracking 35 against that pressure. However, without him the complexion of the Chicago D completely changes. As we saw last week against the Dolphins, without sustained quarterback pressure the back half of the defense opens up passing lanes. After Brock Osweiler managed to hang 380 yards on them last week, the sky could be the limit for Brady this week. He's a solid starter. Mitchell Trubisky, if you have him, is an easy bench this week. Young quarterbacks have never fared well against Bill Belichick, and that goes double for those facing the Pats for the first time in their careers. seeing how Patrick Mahomes struggled at times last week, I doubt Trubisky can manage a startable performance.
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Tom Brady: 18 points
307 passing yards (12 points), 2 passing TDs (8 points), 1 INT (-2 points)
Sony Michel's primetime performance last week gives him must-start status if he plays this Sunday. James White, meanwhile, is still a great PPR threat and a flex in deep standard leagues (he'll have to catch a touchdown to really produce, but his carries running the ball last week were promising for his usage overall). The Bears' Jordan Howard has been largely ineffective this season after promising rookie and sophomore campaigns. The Pats have been shaky at times against the run this year, but I think they do a good job of stopping Howard early and forcing the Bears to pass to keep the game close. Tarik Cohen is the back to own, especially in PPR. His speed and shiftiness could lead to some game-breaking plays for the Bears, like Kareem Hunt's long receiving touchdown or Tyreek Hill's mad dash last week.
The Bears couldn't tackle a soul last week against the Dolphins. This week, they're facing a better receiving corps and a much better quarterback throwing the passes. I like the Pats' chances here as a group, with Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon holding the most potential individually. The Bears' main receivers are Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. Stephon Gilmore should be able to neutralize Robinson in coverage, but Gabriel (aside from Tyreek Hill) is one of the fastest wideouts in the league. Looking at what Hill did to New England's secondary last week, Gabriel could cause some problems.
Rob Gronkowski managed to salvage a decent outing with some big catches late last week, but his touchdown drought continues to kill his fantasy value. Obviously you can't bench him if you own him, but temper your expectations. Trey Burton is another startable tight end, though he derives a lot of his appeal from his red zone production.
The Bears are one of the best units the Patriots will face this season, but without Khalil Mack they become a lot more ordinary. If he ends up out, I'd look for another defense. The Patriots going against a young QB, meanwhile, makes a great formula for fantasy success.
That's it for this fantasy breakdown. Enjoy your Sunday, and Go Pats!