A week away from Soldier Field might do the Bears some good. After a crushing Week 6 letdown left the Bears 0-3 at home and players angered by quarterback Jay Cutler’s leadership and inconsistent play, Chicago will try to regain some steam against a rolling New England Patriots squad Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
But if there’s anyone Cutler can learn from its Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who dealt with murmurs about his poor play at the start of the season and even speculation that he wouldn’t end his career in New England.
The Bears are now 3-4 on the season, two games back of the NFC North lead, but a win over New England followed by a bye week before their big trip to Lambeau to face Green Bay could be the remedy they need.
Receiver Brandon Marshall reportedly ripped into Cutler in the locker room following his 21-for-24, 190-yard display against Miami resulted in a 27-14 loss. Despite the presence of Marshall, receiver Alshon Jeffery and multi-threat running back Matt Forte, the Bears could only muster 224 total yards on offense and six of their nine possessions resulted in either a turnover or punt. Of Chicago’s three turnovers, two were from Cutler.
Marshall later defended his quarterback publicly and kept what was said in house, but former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher made things worse after declaring that Cutler’s status as a franchise quarterback is reflected in his paycheck but not in his play.
Cutler apparently squashed any perceived issue with Marshall in comments he made Friday, and now Chicago can turn their attention to the Patriots top ranked pass defense. New England’s picked off seven passes and is holding opposing quarterbacks to an 85 passer rating, 208 yards per game and 6.6 yards per attempt.
The secondary is a big reason why the Pats once again sit atop the AFC East at 5-2 after winning five of their last six games, but Brady’s improved play in that span deserves much credit too. There was plenty of talk about the limited number of capable receivers at Brady’s disposal to start the season, and ESPN stirred the pot with a hypothetical trade to Houston that could have rankled the future Hall of Famer.
But Brady has completed 60 percent or more of his passes in five of the last six games, and has 13 touchdowns to two picks all year. Last week, Brady tossed three touchdowns, two of which to running back Shane Vereen, and New England prevailed over the N.Y. Jets, 27-25, despite maintaining possession for a little over 19 minutes. And while it was a victory for the Patriots, it exposed their continued problems against the run.
New England is No. 24 in rushing defense, which could open things up for Forte and give Cutler some space in the pocket as well. Forte’s rushed for 448 yards and three touchdowns, and leads the Bears with 52 receptions for 436 yards and two more scores.
Start Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. EST
TV Channel: FOX
Betting Odds: New England -7
Over/Under: 50.5 points
Prediction: New England 31, Chicago 27