Patriots-Bears matchup of the day: Saturday

Posted Dec. 11, 2010 @ 4:49 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 14 game between the Patriots and Bears:

Patriots OLB Tully Banta-Cain vs. Bears ORT J'Marcus Webb

As good as the Bears have been during their current five-game winning streak, their biggest weakness has still been glaring. QB Jay Cutler has been sacked 14 times in the five games, adding to the league-high 41 times Cutler has hit the turf.

What has worked for the Bears is showing more of a commitment to the run to avoid putting Cutler under too much pressure with such a bad offensive line protecting him.

Even though he has improved, Webb has been a weak link on the Bears' front. The rookie has struggled this season, including on national TV trying to slow down Dolphins OLB Cameron Wake, a night that saw Webb rack up holding penalties.

Banta-Cain is the Patriots' best pass rusher, even though his numbers are down from last season's 10 sacks. He has four this season, but has seen his snap total increase recently. Banta-Cain rushes opponents' right tackles and will give the rookie Webb a handful.

Considering the weather conditions expected in Chicago, the Bears would be smart to go to the ground, especially with the Patriots missing ILB Brandon Spikes. Luckily for Chicago, the Patriots are tied for 24th in the league in sacks and rarely put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but expect Bill Belichick to dial up some blitzes and take advantage of Banta-Cain's matchup against Webb.