X's and O's: Patriots at Bears
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Last week the Patriots played a high powered offense with a defense that wasn't as good but this week its completely different. The Bears have a very good defense and a decent offense. The Bears acquired Khalil Mack this offseason from the Raiders, which I'm sure you knew that, but since he was acquired the Bears defense has looked really good. The bears are ranked 10th in the NFL in yards allowed, 343.3 yards per game. The Bears have allowed 260.4 passing yards per game and have allowed 83.4 rushing yards a game.
This matchup between the Patriots' running backs and the Bears' front seven will be very interesting. Sony Michel has rushed for 106 yards, 98 yards, and 112 yards in his last three games along with a combined 5 touchdowns. Michel is everything that the Patriots were looking for, in their pick of him, in the 2018 draft.
The Bears run multiple fronts, with a cover-2 secondary scheme. The Bears could run a 3-4 or a 4-3 from meaning they could use either, three defensive linemen along with four linebackers or four linemen and three linebackers. A cover-2 scheme, which is pictured below, allows all of the defensive backs to drop into their "zones." The two safeties will drop into halves coverage, meaning both will take a half of the field, and the cornerbacks will cover anywhere from five to twelve yards on their side of the field. The linebackers will cover the middle of the field.
The Patriots running game will likely set the pace today. If Michel and James White can come out like they have been doing the past few weeks, then the Pats will win favorably today. If the Bears have to focus on the run game then their secondary won't be able to handle the Patriots receivers. Even with Gronk being out today, with injuries in his ankle and back, the Pats still have a lot of options offensively. Gordon is still being acclimated to the offense and Edelman is still getting into mid season form.
Since the Bears play a cover-2 the Patriots can attack them in a few different ways. The Patriots can run routes that will clear the safety and have the second receiver on that side run a deep in. Then the backside receiver can run a drag and be wide open. Another concept the Patriots can run is a smash concept once again clearing the safety and creating a two on one for the receivers vs the cornerbacks. For example Josh Gordon can run a fade route, while Edelman is running a deep in route. Leaving a guy like Hogan or James White to run the backside drag and they will will be wide open.
The Bears offense is decent, not great but their defense allows their offense to have some error. If the Pats make Mitchell Trubisky beat them, then I think they will win the game. The Bears average 366.2 yards per game. They average 130.0 rushing yards per game and 232.6 passing yards per game. If the Pats can contain Jordan Howard and the bears running game to 100 yards or less then they will do just fine. The Pats will create turnovers and the rest will be history. The Patriots also run a hybrid front but with a mixture of man and zone defense. The Patriots are very good with showing a front but using it as a disguise. If the Pats can come out with different looking fronts to confuse Mitchell Trubisky they will be just fine.
The Patriots are looking to keep the winning streak alive. The Pats are going to go into Chicago and come away with a pretty good win. The Pats defense gets two picks and a fumble, Edelman and Gordon have a touchdown, White has a touchdown and Michel gets one as well. The Patriots win today 31-14.
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