Chicago Bears football is finally back this Sunday at Soldier Field. In what is arguably the worst part of the year for fans and the best part of the year for players, the Bears are back in action after a two-week hiatus. The sting of the grueling loss to the Raiders has subsided, and everyone is ready to get back to Bears football. In what will be one of the hardest stretches for the Bears in recent memory, it starts with the New Orleans Saints this Sunday. At 3-2 the Bears are in the mix as one of the best teams in the NFC. Weaknesses have shown through the first five games both offensively and defensively. But, after some self scouting during the bye, Matt Nagy, Chuck Pagano and the rest of the staff look to rebound in a big way. The Bears will play the Saints, Chargers, Eagles, Lions, and Rams over the next five games. They need a spark, someone to light a fire under this team, if they are to get back on track and return to their winning ways of last season. Their backs are against the wall and someone needs to step up and get this team on a roll. This spark will not come from the likes of Khalil Mack, Mitch Trubisky, or Allen Robinson this weekend. Instead, it will come from one of the most storied positions in Bears history – middle linebacker, Roquan Smith .

 

While being out one game, Smith is sitting at 66th in the league in tackles with 33. He has no sacks and no INTs or forced fumbles this year. In the beginning of the season, Smith was seen flying around the field, breaking up passes, making key stops, and being a leader of this defense. However, he has not been the same since he surprisingly sat out against the Vikings in week 4. Smith dealt with a personal issue over that week and it seemed to clearly effect his play in London against the Raiders as well. The bye week could not have come at a more perfect time for Smith, who without a doubt spent this time to regather himself and get himself back to being the player we have seen flying around the field. He will need to be the All-Pro capable player we saw last season in order to shutdown one of the best receiving RB teams in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints.

Alvin Kamara is dealing with a high ankle sprain and looks doubtful to play this weekend. But, the Saints have a premier backup in Latavius Murray who will fill in without missing a beat in Kamara’s absence. When Kamara is on the field, the Saints  utilize him in the passing game early and often. He currently ranks 18th overall and 3rd among running backs in receptions with 33. Kamara also ranks 4th among running backs with 276 receiving yards and averages 46 receiving yards a game. The running backs are a huge part of the Saints defense and will be a vital check down for Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday against the Chicago Bears stellar defensive front four. The key to slow down the running backs in the passing game is to utilize man-to-man defense. The Bears will need to play a majority of man to man coverage to prevent the running backs from finding holes in zone defenses and picking up key yards for the Saints. Roquan Smith will need to be on his A game to stop whoever suits up for the Saints. If Smith can stick to Kamara or Murray and take away that check down option Sunday afternoon, Bridgewater will have a difficult time moving the ball down the field consistently.

UPDATE: Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook have been ruled out for Sunday’s game. This tilts the advantage to the Bears as now the defense can focus on containing Michael Thomas.

Fans and players across the NFL all saw last season the type of ability Roquan Smith possesses. An every down player that fits the mold of a typical Bears inside linebacker that fans have become so accustomed to over the years. Now is his time to get back to that form. He is poised for a BIG game this Sunday. I predict Roquan to have a huge game Sunday with double digit tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack. If Roquan comes to play Sunday and helps shut down the Saints running attack while blanketing the running backs in the passing game, he will be the one to provide the spark for this Chicago Bears team. While the Bears would like to win every week, this game is especially important to secure a victory and ignite a fire as they begin this grueling stretch of the schedule.